Both the Google and Msn engines have their good and bad points, but the major plus for Google is that they already have a huge userbase searching regulary on their engine and the majority of those searchers are happy with the results. To best compare the two engines and their current state of play I've split each of them into positives / negatives. Follow the title link above for the full post
Late last night bloggers all over the world started what im sure will be a very short-lived networked jump for joy as Google, MSN, Yahoo and Six Apart announced a joint effort to cull comment spam. This post looks at why this initiative will fail. Follow the title link above for more.
As GoogleGuy pointed out on an earlier Threadwatch post many other blog vendors and hosts are taking up the new nofollow attribute which is designed with the purpose of denying PageRank and link benefits to spammers:
Steve Jenson - Blogger
Matt Mullenweg - WordPress
Stewart Butterfield - Flickr
Anthony Batt - Buzznet
David Czarnecki - blojsom
Rael Dornfest - Blosxom
sounds like MSN Spaces is signing on too.
Self Congratulation and Back Slapping wont Stop Comment Spam
The collective jump for joy i mentioned above was taken up by many bloggers who, through no fault of their own, clearly do not have a complete grasp on the situation and what it involves - or the economics of blog spamming.
Among the more notable entries were the following:
Jay Allen - MT Blacklist - Cavalier Attitude
like the posters at Webmasterworld and Nick W from Threadwatch.org who seems to be posting negatively everywhere I've looked and even has a thread on a way to abuse the nofollow link type for those who lie awake at night sweating about PageRank. What-evah.
So, rcjordan posted one of the obvious ways in which the new nofollow implementation could be abused by webmasters: To cheat reciprocol partners out of PR.
What other mess might this almost certainly ineffectual effort to cull comment spam be open to? Here are some thoughts off the top of my head:
Cheating recips out of PR - rcjordan
Cheating directory submissions
PR funneling - this could be used to really skew websites as webmasters try to funel PR to certain pages an deny outgoing links PR - in fact, it could skew the web as it stands according to google if it got out of hand...
Anyone care to add some more or comment on the above?
A Defense Against Comment Spam
Jeremy Zawodny is (i think) the first to announce the unilateral Search Engine initiative to cull comment spam.
'm pleased to announce that Yahoo! Search is one of several organizations in support of a technique that should help combat weblog comment spam. Others involved are: Google/Blogger, MSN Search, Six Apart (TypePad, MovableType, LiveJournal), and WordPress.
By adding a rel="nofollow" attribute to hyperlinks, webmasters and weblog owners can tell search engines that the links are effectively untrusted.
We think this is a good first step toward significantly reducing the spam burden on bloggers and weblog hosting companies. It's great to see so many players on board. In the coming weeks you can expect to see the changes reflected in our web index.
Six Apart - Google and MSN Onboard
Jeremy points to this announcement at six apart, the company behind TypePad and MovableType and also these 2 posts from Google and MSN
Google's Announcement - as yet unpublished
MSN's Announcement - as yet unpublished
Jeremey, are you being a bad boy and breaking the news before the agreed time? hehe...
Over the past couple of months i've noticed a steadily increasing interest in Search amongst bloggers. This isn't so surprising when you think about as the recent Pew Study showed a 58% increase in blog readership in 2004 and that 7% of American adults that use the net had created a blog. This post looks at the growing blog scene and what potential avenues exist for SEO's within it. Follow the title link above for the full post.
Rich Media's The New Paid Search
Mediapost are predicting that rich media ads will out strip paid search in terms of growth this year based on a eMarketer report due out later today:
"Paid search advertising took the lion's share of online ad spending in 2004, but eMarketer forecasts rich media advertising will grow more quickly than paid search in 2005," wrote eMarketer Senior Analyst Ben Macklin in the report. "The barriers to rich media advertising, such as bandwidth constraints and ad format limitations, are falling," he wrote.
In fact, eMarketer predicted that U.S. spending on rich media advertising, including interstitials, would leap to around $1.02 billion in 2005, up from $796 million last year. eMarketer forecast that all online ad spending in the United States would reach $11.3 billion in 2005, up from an estimated $9.4 billion last year.
Still, eMarketer expects paid search to show continued strength, with $4.69 billion going to paid search in 2005, compared to $3.93 billion in 2004.
And in the context of the report took a look at the four major "portals" and assessed their outlook for the following year as follows:
Yahoo! - Excellent
Google - Very good
MSN - Very good
AOL - Uncertain
Yahoo come out on tops due to growth, aquisitions and content with AOL trailing in at the back - maybe it's time to take old shep out back and put him out of his misery?
Dogpile Search Engine Builds On Its IntelliFind Technology With New Features
As the kind lady who IM'd me this report said "I'd forgotten Dogpile even existed!" heh...
Well, I cant say that im particularly inclined to report on what dogpile does but this is kinda interesting:
IntelliFind is a sophisticated query analysis system designed to improve the relevancy of Dogpile results by assessing the likely intent behind every query and searching only the content sources that are likely to return highly relevant results. IntelliFind launched in November 2004 and was the result of a year-long development effort.
With this launch, IntelliFind now supports the integration of yellow pages content on Web search results pages when relevant to a user's query. The feature is currently in beta. Whenever IntelliFind identifies that the likely intent behind a query is to find information on a local business, Dogpile now returns yellow pages listings in a box at the top of the results set. With this new functionality, Dogpile is able to better respond to the growing number of users who turn to search engines to find information on nearby businesses.
Another new feature, Web Site Match, helps users navigate the Web more efficiently by matching every query against a database of the most popular Web sites and suggesting exact matches at the top of the results set. The Web Site Match feature was developed in response to the growing number of navigational queries - queries entered at a search engine by a user intending to reach a specific Web site. To save users time and frustration, Web site Match employs a listing of common misspellings to guide users to their destination even if their query is misspelled.
Sounds cool huh? Anyone wanna take it for a spin and tell us what they think?
Losing Referrer Info
Interesting thread over at SEW started by Black_Knight
Referral tracking is becoming an ever harder game with the growing obsession about (and misidentification of) spyware. A growing number of applications and plug-ins strip referrer info from HTTP headers sent by browsers, making the HTTP referrer less accurate by the day.
We might all decide that we'd use a refID=somevalue; query string parameter, which the engines can then look at to see if they'd teach the spider to automatically strip out that one variable, or perhaps even change the value - refID=Google; or refID=Yahoo for instance.
So gents we all know it is now happening, the large forums are growing to the point that people have stopped posting the secrets. The seo's who have been around for a while are now all mates, they get together in different places in the world, drink lots, go to seedy bars and bounce ideas of each other. Some people get invites to lots, some to a few, the mass get no invites. If you work for an se, a media company, or people even think you may talk to se's you don't get invited.
So are these people "terrorists" or freedom fighters?
The Mobile Dilemma
In December we talked about Targeting Small Screens and took a look at Douglas Bowmans ecellent essay on The Status Quo of Mobile Browsers. As a follow up to that, those interested in targeting mobile should take a look at this post by Steven from a browser vendors perspective. Sorry, i couldn't find any details on him but have asked in the comments on the post.
Among other things he lists some of the common problems associated with web content on mobiles:
There are, however, some problems that plague us, and probably all of our competitors:
bandwidth is awful - even on so-called 3G networks, the browsing experience is reminiscent of dial-up.
screen is small - 480x640 pixel VGA screens are on the horizon, but currently the high-end is 240x320 pixel QVGA screens.
screen orientation is “wrong” - most cell phones and PDAs have “portrait” screens that are taller than they are wide, while most desktop computers have “landscape” screens.
poor user input devices
low power CPU, too little RAM
legacy WAP sites
And a small ray of hope for the future:
The small screen is a huge problem for everybody, and nobody really has a solution that is enviable. This means that we generally don’t have space for sidebars and wide navigation bars, which happen to be two web design mainstays. The “wrong” orientation makes the problem even worse. However, there is hope on this front. As VGA screens become mainstream over the next few years, a rotated display will have 640px across, which should be within reason for web developers to just adapt their desktop-oriented design rather than throw everything away.
Checking through my feeds this morning in Bloglines i notice that there is no record of how many subscribers there are to each blog anymore. When you click the link that says "subscribers" (it would normally have the number next to it) it just tells you that there are no subscribers with public profiles for this blog...
Why is this important? Well, it's not earth shatteringly imporant heh.. but i do (and i assume many others do) take a great interest in the number of people subscribed to the Threadwatch feed - it's a silly way of keeping score and i just can't resist stuff like that :-)
What is it that makes people link to just about any old shite an SEO/SEM company throw up? - For a good example just think about how many shoddy, gimmicky PR checkers and backlink checkers there are out there...
WTF is all that about?
Aaron Wall just posted a cracking piece on this subject:
I have been getting links for a few friends recently and have noticed some pretty solid links pointing at some pretty shoddy / worthless SEO services (such as free automated Search Engine Submission services).
Many of these links are from well themed .edu pages that have not been updated for years. Some of these less than stellar services are being clustered with the like of authoritative search sites such as SearchEngineWatch and major search engines.
He goes on to list some less than honorable, tongue in cheek suggestions of how to use this for fun and profit :-)
We talked a litte recently about gaining links creatively - just scroll down till you hit chrisgarrett and mikkels conversation...
So, what other dastardly schemes are there that you can add to your site to garner a bit of link love?
Yahoo to acquire Six Apart?
There's been some very compelling arguments posted as to why Yahoo! should (or will) buy Six Apart, the company behind hosted blogging solution TypePad and blog software MovableType - and now LiveJournal which was recently aquired by Six Apart taking it's user base to an estimated 6.5M users. thanks rss blog
This is why it's so remarkable that Yahoo! has no blogging platform. Yahoo! owns Overture, the main competitor to Google's keyword ad business. Ad inventory is in short supply, Web content is the greatest source of untapped inventory, and blogs are the fastest growing area of Web content. Google owns Blogger, Microsoft quietly announced recently that its blogging platform, MSN Spaces, just passed the 1.5 million user mark, and Yahoo! has... nothing.
But here's the truth: the user-dependent, sticky, time-consuming application that these companies are driving towards isn't one of these, it's all of them together: an integrated suite of Web-based personal tools. It will encompass Web email, instant messaging, an address book, a page of RSS-driven content like My Yahoo!, a set of online bookmarks like del.icio.us, perhaps online management of music or other content, and... a blog for photo sharing and one-to-many communication.
I was about to do another quote but i think that's enough for fair use :-) do check it out it's a cracker of a read and makes a lot of sense.
I dont know whether Yahoo would necessarily buy a company like Six but i cant see any good reason why they shouldn't be involved in blogging given all their other user-sticky activities and i can certainly think of (with a little help from the post linked above) a whole bunch of reasons why they should...
Growth of online ads hits high speed
Demand for online video ads by Ford Motor, Colgate-Palmolive and others will contribute to a breakout year for online advertising in 2005 — and spell trouble for newspapers and TV, financial analysts say.
A surge in text ads on search sites Google and Yahoo — combined with more high-speed Internet users — also will help push online ad spending over $10 billion for the first time, analysts say.
This is all well and good, but where's the interactivity?
Newspaper circulation woes will continue in 2005, says a Merrill Lynch report. And cuts at major advertisers Sears and Kmart "could take their toll."
Mobile Web Development, Kissing Cousins
Threadwatch member Earle Flynn has some thought inspiring commentary on the possible future of apps for mobile:
Another issue is that web developers have not yet conceptualized this new 2 inch mobile Internet. Previously web developers had 17 inches of screen. Any web dev tricks they knew before are now gone. To get web developers thinking of this new small interface I propose a Mobile Web Development KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). Mobile KISS would be to think of mobile Internet applications in terms of yes and no, on and off, up and down, left and right, buy and sell, add funds and withdraw funds, and send and receive.
There's a lot in the post so do follow the threadlink above - He also talks about the mobile being keyboardless and the agony of text input on a mobile phone - Im sure this can be overcome and disagree to a small extent with Earle's assumption that yes/no questions and similar on/off switches are the best way to go - well, okay: They are for now.. but im sure we will see usable interfaces for mobile based on standard keyboards before too long.
One idea that struck me was to have a fold away, thin keypad that could just be flipped out of the phone and laid on a flat surface - does that sound stupid? :)
Earle talks about the phone as a destination, and Russell B mentions that here:
Mobile phones still need that killer app which takes out the need for context. They need to get to the point where they are less devices that you use while out and about, and considered more destinations in their own right. In other words, the current crop of apps are mostly created with that "mobile context" in mind. So you could say I haven't looked at my phone lately because I haven't been moving much. This is wrong. It's limiting a platform which can potentially do anything that a small computer with broadband access can do. The person who comes up with the app that compels a person to use their phone without considering the fact that it's a phone is going to have a killer app on their hand. One could argue the opposite, that mobile phone apps *should* only be used in the mobile context, but I think that's too narrow minded.
Yahoo Portal on Verizon customers PCs
Yahoo and Verizon Communications on Monday announced a multi-year agreement to package the Web portal into the nation's largest phone company's broadband Internet services
The deal represents a competitive win for Yahoo because it essentially bumps Microsoft's MSN as the default Web portal for new Verizon customers. Yahoo will package its Web portal and online services into Verizon's DSL and its upcoming fiber-to-the-home offering called Fios.
The tie-in with Verizon mirrors Yahoo's current agreement with SBC Communications, which was recently renewed by the two companies. Like the SBC deal, Yahoo will receive a cut of revenue for every new Verizon DSL or Fios subscriber, as well as any current subscriber using the MSN service who switches to Yahoo
Craigslist Circles the Globe With Online Classifieds, One City at a Time
Craigslist, of which eBay bought a 25% stake in last year is in the middle of some major expansion - it's already estimated to be costing the Bay Area newspapers $65M a year in lost revenue and looks to be making a bid for world domination. Go Craig! heh..
Craigslist was started 10 years ago by Craig Newmark, an Internet pioneer in San Francisco, as a way of keeping friends up to date on events in the Bay Area. It spread through the United States before going international in 2003, with sites in London and Toronto. The expansion accelerated in late 2004 with a flurry of sites, including ones for Paris, Berlin, Tokyo and Sydney. About a dozen other international start-ups are planned in the next few months.
Though the international Craigslist sites are available only in English for now, the formula seems to be catching on, if more modestly than in the United States. The London site attracts more than 150,000 unique visitors each month, Mr. Buckmaster said. The Paris site, begun in November, already draws 50,000 unique visitors monthly. Other recently added sites, including Amsterdam, Dublin, São Paulo, Brazil, and Bangalore, India, have drawn slightly less traffic.
This would be closely tied in the the discussion on how newspapers can survive online...
On Friday we reported on a strange post at Dave Winers site that said:
Last night I got an email from someone I've been wanting to hear from for a long time. There's a problem on the Internet, a big one, that only one entity can solve. The email outlined the solution and asked what I thought of it, and asked me not to say what it is publicly.
He went on to say that he had implemented the idea on one of his sites. Well, Simon Willison thinks he may have discovered what this is...
Google to Quash Comment Spam
Originally i had followed Todd at GeekCentral's surmise that the mystery email was from either Steve Jobs or Bill Gates - but Simon has spotted this on Dave's Bloggercon site. Check out the comments link and view the source!
<a href="someblogsite.com" rel="nofollow">
Which, if Simon is correct in saying:
Google are soon to announce that they won't be calculating PageRank for links with a rel="nofollow" attribute. Finally, an official way of fighting the economics of comment spam by denying PageRank on user-submitted link content.
would eventually have some effect on comment spam as a technique for rankings.
If true, would it solve the comment spam issue?
I think not. There are many reasons why this would not work. In fact, we have talked about the solutions available a lot in recent months and i hold to my original point: You need to stop automated commenting - not deincentivize it!