After Google had announced its intention to acquire the renowned flight data provider ITA (the offer stands, reportedly, at 700 million USD), several serious questions arouse. Wouldn’t it be too much a step towards monopoly? What are the benefits for the customers? Why, the hell, Google is buying ITA at all?
Well, the answer to the last question is pretty obvious. In recent years, Google seems to enter every niche available in the market. Long gone are the times when Google was just a search engine. Google maps, Google news, Google Sketch-up – more and more services are provided by the enterprise and some people are already asking – is Google a Search Engine or your ultimate competitor?
However, the Google ITA offer has now encountered a serious opposition itself. A group of businesses, namely the Fairsearch.org, have gathered together in order to prevent the deal. With ITA serving about two thirds of airline ticketing and satellite websites, the ultimate “danger” – according to the Fairsearch claim – is that Google will eventually start selling tickets directly, while it has a control of data flow towards potential competitors.
Google, of course, claims that the intention is purely to improve the service, making flight data offered by Google more reliable and continuing to redirect the searchers to other websites that offer flight tickets.
With the consequences of this case remain to be seen , one thing is clear – more and more businesses (including the giants like Microsoft and Expedia) are concerned with Google taking over.
Google has recently announced that Google Instant Mobile is now available “globally”. This means that the tool is released for all countries that have Google Mobile access (there are several dozens of those) and supports almost thirty languages.
The product, similarly to Google Instant Mobile, is integrated into search features for any Android browser (built-in for Android OS 2.2 and up) , and features various algorithms that allow faster dynamic search results.
Although this release was expected (shortly after releasing Google Instant Mobile in English, the company had announced that international support is on its way) – nobody anticipated that this would happen so quickly. The roll-out took Google slightly over one month time – an incredible figure, considering the complexity of the product. Of course, this simply means that Google had been working on globalization of Google Instant Mobile simultaneously with the product itself. That is no wonder – Google had always emphasized the importance of international marketing and global support.
Telemarketing was never a part of Google business strategy. The idea was to spread the information, get recognizable and make the clients come to them, asking for services. That’s were the sales managers stepped in, offering a variety of products, bargain deals and impressing the customer.
However, according to latest news, this has recently changed. Several hundreds of telemarketers are employed by the company, their task being to sell Google Boost and Google Tags services to local businesses at several markets in the US.
It seems the Rubicon has been crossed and Google has now “recognized” that some niches and companies should be addressed directly rather than by advertising. The next question, which should be probably answered in few months time, is whether they will expand their own telemarketing group (reportedly currently measuring 300 employees) or try to purchase an established sales force.
After all, with Groupon denying “the 6 billion offer”, Google has some money to spare…
Everybody knows that since the introduction of the new Caffeine index, Google is able to update its site indexing within hours and even minutes. Long gone are the days when we were shown some outdated “caption” of the website content that turned out as no longer present on the page. Different was the case with images, as Google Image Search indexing was still lagging behind. It could take a month or so for the recently added image to appear in Google Image Search results.
It appears Google, in its efforts to produce real time results, is now addressing this “problem”. Several users, who are following Google image indexing closely, have reported a major improvement in this field, stating that the new images are being indexed more fluently, appearing in Google Image Search results with a delay of several days only. This is yet another proof that non-textual content is becoming more and more popular among users, making it essential for proper SEO.
Today Google announced the release of their new operating system Google Chrome OS.
This is the follow up to the Google Chrome Browser which has had some success reaching about 10% market share. (based on data from http://marketshare.hitslink.com/).
The Google operating system is an open source alternative to Linux, offering a very fast and lightweight OS, which will probably load fast and work well (like most other Google products). We all know that Windows is a BIG, heavy and slow operating system, and although Windows 7 is a great improvement over Vista, it is by no means efficient.
The one problem I see with the release of the Google Chrome OS is that there are two kinds of people in the world; the Windows people who fear anything “not Microsoft Windows” and the tech savvy Microsoft hate group of Linux Users (who tend to love http://www.ubuntu.com/). I am not really sure where the market for the Google Chrome OS is coming from? I guess they may be able to peel a little off both groups, but the Microsoft Windows Users really think that their computers will not work without Windows.
I may have to take a closer look at the Google OS, will update you on my direct experience.
Think of it this way – As we travel through a new type of landscape we are guided by signs as always. But the source of the signs and information is much different. Travelers are creating the guidelines and providing directions for the inquiring traveler. This is what happens with Google Profile. Users rate/review businesses, restaurants and service providers based on their experience.
If you are in a neighborhood that is popular with you and your circle of friends you can use Hotpot to find restaurants, bookstores, business offices etc. that will include the locations that are popular with your friends.
Here’s the recipe:
Add an ingredient with a decidedly local flavor to an icon of the Internet world and what do you get? Google Hotpot, a new dish that is seemingly a combination of Places and Profiles. What does this new menu item do for us, the user?
It helps us find local destinations, like businesses and restaurants.
This creates a large database of information in Places, of course. But it also helps the Internet behemoth with another task – making suggestions to users in the future. Add the “friend” touch and you have a referral and suggested destination business model called Hotpot that guides you to physical locations in your area.
How it Looks
A quick look reveals an uncluttered, almost simplistic, design – just what you would expect from Google. Hey, it works!!
Sign in and start rating, that’s all there is to it.
Obviously, you can do your rating and searching on your computer. But these actions are also available on the Android 1.6+ phone with the Google Maps 4.7 update.
At this point the emphasis is on good places to eat and drink – you know, restaurants and cafes. But Google Hotpot isn’t limited to consumption of food and beverages. Users can review any retail site, schools, libraries, even a nice park for a bit of quality time outdoors. A recent count by Google indicated that users have already placed millions of reviews on the service.
For example, one of the icons of Southern Illinois and the St. Louis Metro-East area is the Brooks Catsup bottle. This huge landmark is atop a tower in the town of Collinsville. Want to find this unusual site? It’s on Google Hotpot, complete with a color photograph and address.
Simply click on the number next to the average rating (five star system) and you can read the individual comments and reviews. Choose the business name – the live link at the top – and you are taken to a page with a map, address and review information. You may even get another photo.
Why Hotpot Now?
Most of the early reviews of Hotpot emphasize that this is a way for Google to take on such social sites as Facebook, Yelp and others. The focus is local. But there is supposed to be a significant difference with Hotpot. Reviews and information come only from people that are brought into your network.
The product manager for Google wrote, “With Hotpot, we’re making local search results for places on Google more personal, relevant and trustworthy.”
The idea is not particularly cutting-edge because there are several other ways to connect with friends and recommend places to spend time and money. For example, a user can select Yelp for the closest city and find all sorts of information about restaurants and other businesses.
But This is Google!
That will capture a lot of attention. Throw in the Android access and Google Hotpot is coming into this market at a time when the Internet and World Wide Web are about “apps,” not searching. We are gradually moving into an electronic world that won’t require much searching. Some say we are there already.
We mentioned the key word “local” a bit earlier but we should have mentioned another key word in this scenario – “social.”
Social networking is far from new. In fact, we could argue that the Internet and the Web have been “social” for years. But with Hotpot, the world’s fastest-growing company, Google, is making a statement – We are more social. We are more local.
As one Hotpot review stated, this is the way things work now.
The Google LatLong Blog says Hotpot makes about 50 million locations available, as indicated on Google Places. Users step into the process to share their recommendations with friends, based on individual tastes and interests. When the iPhone Places app comes online Hotpot will add thousands more mobile users.
If all of this doesn’t seem earth-shaking, consider the one ingredient Google has that even the other social platforms don’t have. It’s called “consumer reach,” according to http://venturebeat.com/
Does this mean that Yelp and Foursquare will gradually wither and die on the vine? Probably not, at least for the very near future. But it is possible that Google Hotpot could be the killer app when it comes to navigating the local scene.
On a technical basis, Hotpot is, for the most part, a free-standing service. But if Google and its users decide to do some serious “mashing” and combining, Google Hotpot might stand next to “GPS” as the way to find your way around.
The merging of services hasn’t happened yet. Users still have to work with Hotpot on its own turf. But this will probably change sooner rather than later.
Some veteran industry observers are less than enamored of Google Hotpot. It’s nothing new or particularly useful, they say. What will the world say?
I am sure many people out there have tried to get included in Google News. We have been successful in getting multiple websites included in Google news. Recently we have been working fairly hard to get busy blogging. We decided to attempt to get SEO Moves included in Google news. Just for fun I am going to include the thread of conversation I have had with the people at Google News:
#3- Google News Replied:
Thank you for your note.
We reviewed your site and are unable to include it in Google News at this time. We currently only include sites with news articles that provide timely reporting on recent events. This means we don’t include informational and how-to articles, classified ads, job postings, fictitious content, event announcements or advice columns.”
#4- SEO Moves Reply Back:
In looking at a search today for search engine optimization- the results include a bunch of posts from ZDnet (screen capture included). These posts are really along the lines of what we post, but written by one man who proclaims himself to “NOT” be an SEO expert?
I wish you would reconsider our inclusion as we are really giving people strong real time advice, and tips. 100% white hat information and we are working hard to help the small and medium size businesses succeed online.”
#5- Google News Reply:
Thank you for your reply and for providing us with this additional information about your site. As we previously mentioned, the articles in Google News report on recent events. We currently don’t include informational and how-to articles, classified ads, fictitious content, job postings, event announcements, or advice columns.
Thanks for your interest in Google News.
Regards, The Google News Team”
Lets Take look at Google News Today for fun:
Using page speed as a primary factor in the search-engine process will only affect a tiny percentage of sites, according to information from Google. The company provides a number of ways to speed up sites. Webmasters should probably take look at these. code.google.com
When word first came out about mod-pagespeed there was a tendency to panic. Developers and Webmasters found that in addition to the dozens of factors affecting search-engine rankings Google was going to start using speed as a primary factor. The questions were:
Here’s the bottom line on mod_pagespeed: Webmasters and developers will use this to improve performance of Web pages. But there is some specific information these developers will need to know. This is open-source Apache software used to automatically optimize pages and content served with the Apache HTTP server.
Using mod_pagespeed in combination with the correct compression and caching steps should result in significant improvement in loading time.
Before committing to the use of mod_pagespeed be sure you are working with Apache 2.2 since there aren’t any plans to support earlier versions. If you’re up to it you can develop a patch for these early versions.
According to the best information available, mod_pagespeed can be downloaded as binary code for i386 and x86-64 bit systems through svn. Google instructions add: “It is tested with two flavors of Linux: CentOS and Ubuntu. The developer may try to use them with other Debian-based and RPM-based Linux distributions.”
Several filters have already been mentioned but Google puts special emphasis on “exciting experimental features such as CSS outlining.” This enhances the ability to draw around some page elements to help them stand out to the viewer. Developers and Webmasters can set outline color, width and style.
Achieving optimum page speed is the goal but Webmasters have to take compression, caching and order of download into consideration. It’s also important to reduce the number of trips back to earlier pages and to cut down the number of round trips from page to page.
As you learn more about this significant change in the function of search engines and the Web you may want to understand Page Speed, an open-source add-on for Firefox/Firebug. This is used to evaluate page performance and find ways to improve results.
This is an extension to Mozilla Firefox that runs in the Web development package. Running a performance analysis on a page brings the user a set of suggestions and rules to follow for improvement. Page Speed measures page-load time so that it presents the issue from the user’s viewpoint.
Rich Get Richer?
So, with this additional information about using page speed as a search-engine factor, should we all start to worry about the “big boys” crushing the smaller sites? As we mentioned in brief earlier, this was a cause for concern among Webmasters, developers and site owners. But a blog from Matt Cutts in April went a long way toward reducing the stress of this announcement.
He literally thinks this is not that big a deal. His reasons include:
There are a lot of sources for learning about site speed, mod_pagespeed and other factors in this process. Google has devoted a section of their Web presence to the issue. See code.google.com As for the problems presented to small sites, Cutts and others believe that smaller sites will be able to react more quickly and would actually feel fewer negative effects.
Keep in mind that when we took a brief look at Page Speed above (the open-source tool) we mentioned that the emphasis is on load time. That is the amount of time that passes between a user request and the time when they are able to see the full page, with all graphics, images and text.
Some larger sites with complex designs may suffer if they can’t figure out a way to speed up their load time. Part of the answer may be in the move to larger hosting companies that can afford to put lightning-quick servers into operation.
But there’s still another issue with using page speed. The tendency among quality Web companies is to analyze every detail of operation. Google Analytics can slow down load time as it tries to gather significant data. How will this be folded into overall operation of a site?
To Sum Up
Slow page-loading leads to loss of viewers. Studies have shown this to be true. Even if a site is very popular, users will drift away because of slow response times. It may take a week or two for them to build up the courage to come back. At this point it’s best to take a few basic steps such as reducing download size if possible, improving layout and minimizing round trips between pages.
We don’t need to panic about mod_pagespeed but then we probably shouldn’t be shouting from the rooftops either. The best path is somewhere between these two extremes.
A traditional sitemap is a rather simple and efficient way for a Web site visitor to find a specific page or section on a complex Web site. It’s best to start with a home-page link then offer a list of links to main sections of the site. Those sections can offer details to pages. Be absolutely sure the links are accurate and take the visitor to the exact location described.
In addition, it’s generally best to provide one page (sitemap) where search engines can find access to all pages. A search engine sitemap is a tool that the Web designer or administrator uses to direct search-engine spiders based on frequency and order within the Web site.
So, when we see the term “sitemap” we are fairly sure we know what we are dealing with. The term is very descriptive of the job that this online tool is designed to do. But what about sitemaps for search engines? How do they work? In what specific ways can sitemaps help both developers and users?
Ready-Made Sitemaps for Search Engines
Several companies offer online tools that will “spider” the Web site and create a search-engine sitemap. Some of these services will work with hundreds of pages without charge. If you require the spider to work with more than 500 pages you will have to pay a basic fee. Most of these tools come with instructions on how to apply the sitemap to your site. Once the sitemap is in place you will need to submit it to search engines that will “spider” it.
This gets us to the point at which we have established a multiple-sitemap strategy. Our first, traditional sitemap is created so that visitors to your Web site have a good resource for finding their way to your content. The traditional sitemap comes with an added benefit: keyword weight to the linked pages.
Our strategy doesn’t stop there, however. The search engine sitemap lets the most-used search engines know which pages should be part of their databases. Organization and frequency are the keywords here!
We know the standard sitemap will help visitors find their way to the quality content on your site and the search engine sitemap is the key to an efficient and successful sitemap. But you may want to consider additional assistance for visitors that uses video?
When your well-designed site includes links to video players, links to other video content associated with your site and, of course, video on your own pages, you need to make sure that the major search engines (and visitors) can find what they want and need. A search engine bot will only find your video if you include all the necessary information: title and description; URL for the page on which the video will play; URL for a sample or thumbnail; other video locations, such as raw video, source video etc.
You shouldn’t be too concerned about how much space you’re taking up with video sitemaps because many tools and programs that help you establish video sitemaps will handle thousands of videos. Keep in mind that there will be limits such as a compressed limit expressed in megabytes.
We’ll use Google as an example of formats that will work for video crawling: mpg, .mpeg, .mp4, .m4v, .mov, .wmv, .asf, .avi, .ra, .ram, .rm, .flv, .swf. All files must be accessible through HTTP.
No, the sitemap doesn’t move! This Web site guide includes a tag and namespace language specific to its purpose. The core of the mobile sitemap is standard protocol but if you create yours with a dedicated tool make sure you can create mobile sitemaps.
This guide uses only URL language that focuses on mobile Web content. When the search engine crawls here it will not pay attention to non-mobile content. In a multiple-sitemap strategy you will need to create a sitemap for non-mobile locations. Make sure you include the <mobile:mobile/> tag!!
See a sample of a mobile sitemap for Google at:
http://www.google.com/mobilesitemap.xml or check other search engines to see what you need to do to make this work as it should. Submit mobile sitemaps as you would others.
Geography and Sitemaps
As with other targeted sitemaps, the subject of targeting certain countries with your sites can consume much more time and space than we have here. But here are some of the basics to get us started.
You can target specific countries when you set up your plan with services such as Google Web Tools. This is accomplished when you submit an XML sitemap. The bottom line is that you can submit multiple sitemaps on one domain.
User experience shows that Web site rankings increase by 25 percent or more for organic traffic. With careful SEO effort on each of the language versions the results could be even more impressive.
Submit and Grow
To wrap up this very brief look at the subject of sitemaps, let’s consider a few of the top places for submitting your sitemaps. Keep in mind that search-engine technology has changed and improved so you will need to be familiar with the standards and requirements to be successful.
Don’t limit yourself to the idea of submitting one URL and having the crawler do the work. This isn’t the most efficient way to get where you want to go. Devote some time to learning about submitting to Google, Bing, Ask.com, Moreover, Yahoo Site Explorer and Live Webmaster Center among others. These seem to be the top destinations in the opinion of most industry observers.
The process of submitting a sitemap differs slightly from one place to another but in general terms you use the “configuration” link and choose “sitemaps.” You’ll need to enter your complete path description in the space provided. Google’s example might look like this- http://www.example.com/sitemap.xml, type sitemap.xml) and choose “Submit.”
You should get confirmation and even a screen shot to show what you have accomplished.