Microsoft Yahoo Search Partnership
by Andrew Grinaker, VP Biz Dev/Strategy
For those of us that have been following SEO and the search engines for quite some time now, this is huge news.
For others, this just means that when you search on Yahoo.com, you will be using the "decision" engine Bing for your search results, along with other technology integration that should become seamless over time.
From TechFlash.com; "Under the arrangement, Microsoft Bing would "power" Yahoo search, while Yahoo would sell premium search advertising for both companies, using Microsoft's AdCenter system. The deal will require regulatory review, and the companies say they hope to complete it in early 2010."
As a constant follower of SEO, social media and online marketing trends, the news that Yahoo and Microsoft are partnering up to share technologies is a monumental step forward in challenging Google. Its step forward, but a step forward in what will need to be several hundred steps forward in order of breaking into Google's ridiculous 60% market share of the search industry. But it's a start.
Combined, Yahoo and Microsoft will have a 30% market share and definitely provide a more staunch competitor that acting alone. I believe Yahoo and Microsoft are taking the right approach to try and unseat Google's dominance. They are attempting to combine the best of breed technologies while delivering one search experience. They have both tried to go their own way in competing with Google and finally understood they had to combine forces to make a dent in that 60%.
As for the implications of optimizing sites for the search engines, the game just got easier. SEO strategists and firms now have two major players to worry about, as opposed to three. Sure, Google will still be the search engine clients are most worried about, but dealing with two search algorithms will be inherently easier.
Entries for Jul, 2009
Jul 30, 2009
Microsoft Yahoo Search Partnership
Jul 27, 2009
Spring Summer Cleaning at Twitter
by Dan Korvas
It's about time. Twitter finally announced yesterday that they are going to take the time to go ahead and fix the issues with follower counts for Twitterers out there that have been easy targets of spam accounts. If you are a heavy Twitter user, you may have noticed a drop in your follower count. In a release yesterday, Twitter Status wrote:
For some time, the follower and following counts we display have been incorrect for some folks. We're soon to push a change that will address this issue. This means that the count you see in your sidebar should match what you see on your follower and following pages.
However, a consequence of this change is that follower counts will drop for some people. In particular, those with large followings may see significant changes as we correct for spam accounts and data inconsistencies. No legitimate followings should be affected"”we're just cleaning up artifacts in the system.
It is good to see that they are finally making an effort to rid accounts of these spammers, as it is quite annoying to have these follower alerts showing up in our inboxes on the daily. And if you are anything like me, you clickthrough to this new follower and realize that it is just some spammer or bot that has no real reason to be part of your following. And if you are really anything like me, you just dismiss this notification and forget to block them from following you. Honestly, whenever a new social media platform comes along you are guaranteed that annoying spammers will follow and take advantage of the system.
Jul 23, 2009
Our Favorite iPhone Applications
by Andrew Grinaker, VP of Biz Dev/Strategy
We recently completed a proposal for designing and developing a very cool iPhone application for a non-profit. It got me thinking about posting a blog about some of mine and our office's favorite iPhone applications.
Some background on my iPhone usage; I have had the original "Silverback" iPhone for the past 18 months and as we speak have roughly 35 Applications on my iPhone. I have downloaded more, but I usually will play around with them and then delete if they aren't used on a weekly basis.
Some background on the iPhone usage of our office; we have roughly 35% of our staff using an iPhone with half of those using the original iPhone and the other half using either the 3G or the 3Gs. Here are a few of our favorite iPhone Applications.
(In no particular order)
Urbanspoon "“ This one is widely known and gets lot of publicity and for good reason. Want to impress your friends with your knowledge of cheap Sushi in Kirkland? Pull up this application, filter your results to a certain price and restaurant type and the application provides the best option, equipped with one click to Google Maps for directions.
Amazon - Our in-house Flash and Action scripting guy made sure I listed this out. The best feature? Take a picture of a product that you are interested in, send it to them and they will get back to you with the product link you are searching for.
Pandora "“ Again, an application and service that people are very familiar with. The popular web service moved into the iPhone world and provided fans with streaming music via their phone. Very cool feature, but make sure you are connected to Wi-Fi or you may encounter some service interruptions.
Lose It "“ A calorie counter that makes it simple to track your meals and those late night snacks that you would like to forget about. To start, you punch in your personal information (height, weight, etc.) and then it provides a calorie budget. Moving forward, it tracks your progress via an interactive chart.
Mint.com "“ Most iPhone applications are about making life easier and in the palm of your hands. This application does that to perfection. Mint.com allows you to enter in your banking information and tracks your bank account information and supplies graphs and charts to categorize your spending by restaurant, grocery, gas, etc.
Shazam "“ Hear a song on the radio and can't figure out whether it is Soundgarden or Alice in Chains? Well, if you're from Seattle you wouldn't have that problem. But if you do, pull up Shazam while the song is playing and it will provide Artist, Song Title and the ability to purchase on iTunes. Very cool.
WikiTap "“ A scaled down version of Wikipedia, but just as effective. Simply type in a person, subject, location or any other word and it will provide a description to give you answers at the touch of a finger.
I am sure we will encounter a new application tomorrow that amazes us, but for now here are a few of our favorites. Enjoy!
Jul 10, 2009
"We Choose to Go to the Moon "¦ "
by Loren Skaggs, CEO
We are approaching the fortieth anniversary of one of mankind's greatest achievements: Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin's walk on the moon. Not only was it a great achievement scientifically and technologically, but it was also a great achievement in political will. In the face of an up-and-down economy, a war abroad, and unrest at home, we managed the successful realization of an incredibly ambitious undertaking.
(Incidentally, I would be remiss if I didn't include a shout-out to our client, Spacelabs Healthcare, who had a hand in getting them up there.)
The lesson of Apollo 11 also offers a lesson to those of us in the business of business. One thing I am always advising my clients is the importance of setting goals. Any project will only be as successful as the quality of the stated goal.
For instance, when asked for a goal, clients often tell us that they "need a new website." Well, this, quite simply, is not a goal. Nobody "needs" a new website. What they need are the things that they hope to get out of the new website. And the better they are able to define what those things are, the better results they will get from the project.
That brings me back to the U.S. space program. Remember that the moonshot began with a speech by John F. Kennedy. Here is what he said:
"I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth."
Now, that's what I call goal-setting.
Note that this brief statement has virtually all of the components of a well stated business goal:
- It is specific (The moon is a pretty specific point in space)
- It is measurable (did a man land on the moon and return safely to earth? Yes? Then, Mission Accomplished)
- It is Time-bound ("before the decade is out")
This well defined goal statement drove the way the mission was carried out. Could they have built a fancier rocket, sent more people, or spent more time on the moon? Sure, but they had to get this done before the decade was out. Better to go small and quick. But at the same time, they couldn't cut too many corners, because they had to make sure that the astronauts were returned safely.
The same goes for goal-setting in business. Sure, you might want a new website, and you probably even need one -- but why?
You actual goal may be to improve sales by reducing the effort it currently takes for a customer to get through your checkout process.
So, your stated goal might be "To improve sales by creating a new website that reduces the amount of click-through required to complete a transaction."
An even better goal would include more specific details, if you can muster them up (increase sales by how much? How many clicks is a transaction taking now? What do you want to reduce them to? How long should the project take? How much should it cost?)
Finally, make sure your goal means something. Remember that Kennedy made his speech smack in the middle of a Cold War with the Soviet Union, and Russian spacecraft were already flying over our heads. It was important for the U.S. to demonstrate some area of superiority in space, both from a military standpoint and from the perspective of public perception.
So, what are you trying to achieve?
Jul 07, 2009
Bing Travel Outage and the Search Impact
by Andrew Grinaker, VP of Business Development/Strategy
Over the past weekend, Bing Travel was offline for 36 hours due to a small fire at their hosting location in Seattle, Washington. Bing.com wasn't affected, as it was hosted in Microsoft's redundant systems.
According to TechFlash.com, the technology from Bing Travel was acquired by Microsoft as part of its purchase of Seattle online travel startup Farecast. In the article, Microsoft also stated they are "hard at work moving Bing Travel to the Microsoft Cloud Computing Platform." They expect it to be done by early fall.
The interesting aspect of that has somewhat affected the site after the hosting outage is the search impact. While doing a search for "bing travel" at 9:00am PDT on Tuesday, July 7, the Google search query produced this interesting result.
Also, to note, the last time Google indexed (the last time Google's spiders accessed the site for information) the Bing Travel site was July 4th, almost 4 full days ago, which is uncommon for the popularity of the site. I suspect the site to be indexed within the next 24 hours but it is an interesting aspect to follow.
This just shows you how much impact an outage can have to your site, even after the outage has been fixed. A common visitor searching for Bing Travel on Google (which I understand is a rare case) may not even click on the link if it states a "Temporarily Unavailable" status.
Jul 06, 2009
by Dan Korvas
In the past month, a revolution has been taking place that has almost completely flown under the radar. I'm not going to get into political views and who is right or wrong here, but this is one of the first glaring examples as to how the future of news will be distributed. This all has to do with the presidential race in a Middle East country last month how social media has been the leading source of any and all news updates that have been following this story.
In the past month, unless you are actively seeking news out regarding this story, you will be hard pressed to get any solid information from any of the MSM outlets regarding the Iran elections. That is quite shocking really, when you consider the scope of this story and how it has basically been swept under the rug by most television networks (well, not completely ignored, but rather not given the airtime that something of this magnitude deserves). In times like these, especially where the freedom of the press has been all but squashed, we see how the voice of the people who are engulfed in the situation are actually the main source of newsworthy reporting. I never thought I would say this, but Twitter has been the best source of information in regards to the reporting of this story. While this is not only a massive shift in how the news is being reported, this is free advertising that the folks at Twitter could only have dreamed of. And now they are the center stage for nearly all of the first-hand accounts of what is going on there, which is a heck of a lot more interesting than tweets by your favorite celebrity about what they just had for lunch.
While we are grateful that this new form of news updates is upon us, we still need to take caution. Why, you ask? Because just like anything else on the internet, you still need to have credible sources. The internet allows us to be anonymous, which is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it gives us the ability to speak our mind without fear of reprisal. However, the anonymity also makes us doubt who is actually spreading this information. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to differentiate between who is reporting a story and who is merely trying to push their own agenda. Hopefully, as we continue to move toward a social media/social news media model, there will be a new level of integrity that this generation of reporters can adhere to.