Friday, 28 March 2008

Google bids to buy Microsoft

My jaw dropped to the floor when i read this tasty nugget of gossip this morning over my toast and Bovril.

When asked whether the takeover amounted to a monopoly, Sergey Brin responded, "You know the rules and so do i".

Later Bill Gates was asked the extent of the takeover to which he hastily responded, "A full commitment's what I'm thinking of".

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Don't let Google boss your website around

Google have always been good at creating a business model where previously it didn't exist, or if it did, doing it better.

Online advertising was always a bit of a dog until Google came along with AdWords in 2000, now AdWords is it's major revenue source.

With Google's unique ability for making money where no one else is looking, web professionals need to be wary about what Google is up to. If Google do introduce any new Beta offerings or alter the specifications of current offerings they'll do so on the quiet.

Google site search
Recently a quiet change to Google site search has been making waves in the web community (more examples of this). Many will know Google site search as something you can do in the main Google search, eg. input "site: seo" into Google and you will search this blog for all instances of the word 'seo'. The change Google has made is by automatically including the site search in it's results listings (see image below). The worry amongst website owners is that users will now search your site for what they want on Google before even getting to your site. This may reduce your visitors, discourage user visits to your home page and worst of all place Google AdWords on the search results page.

screen shot of Google results page showing listing for and site search box

Savvy website owners need to be well aware of Google activity and i encourage them to fight Google if you feel you've been hard done by. have recently done just that to prevent site search appearing next to their search listing.

All this innovation by Google works both ways. Clever individuals and companies can make money out of Google.

One major new business model being developed that amongst other things attempts to give publishers payments for the use of their news stories is ACAP (Automated Content Access Protocol). ACAP in its simplest form will provide rights information (DRM) for all articles, news items, images, videos etc on a publishers website that can be read by a machine, such as the Google News spider - I'm not exactly sure of the mechanics of it but it will be an extension of the robots.txt file.

Google are reluctant to embrace ACAP as they believe current robots files are sufficient. Considering ACAP seeks to provide some limits to how information is used on the web I'm sure that this is not the only factor causing Google's reticence.

If ACAP, or something similar and maybe less restrictive, does take off and Google comes round to the idea (or is forced to by legislation) then publishers could find themselves making a lot of money.

The web is changing as businesses become more aware of the capabilities of the internet - there are more publishers and website owners out there than search engines and without us what would the search engines search?

Related pages
Should Google News pay publishers for their content?

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Cybersquatters can redirect your users to porn

By ever so slightly misspelling a url or adding an incorrect .com when it should be .org there's a very high chance you'll end up looking at porn.

It's happened to me twice in the last two days.

First of all i was attempting to direct an IT colleague to in order to download VLC media player and inadvertantly directed him to, something very different.

Secondly i was meaning to type in the domain to view the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster however i forgot the .org and typed in and was yet again viewing naked ladies.

Now 'accidentally' looking at porn isn't the most painful experience you can have but with a computer screen that everyone in my open plan office can see, being caught viewing animated gifs and rotating flash graphics of unhygienic sex acts isn't a desired career move.

The only way to avoid this surreptitious adult surfing is obviously by being a bit more careful and possibly finding a website through Google so you can get a text preview before the onslaught of technicolour karma sutra.

Telling you how to not view porn isn't the point of this article though, what my recent experiences highlight is the importance of your url and how it's important to be aware of 'cybersquatters'.

"Cybersquatting, is registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name with bad faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else. The cybersquatter then offers to sell the domain to the person or company who owns a trademark contained within the name at an inflated price."

There has been a number of high profile cases of this happening, notably to Harrods in 2001; they won the case and got the domains. Harrods is a big brand name and was seen as an easy target for cybersquatters of the early noughties but as the two examples at the beginning of this article show, anyone can be a victim of cybersquatting.

With 108,810,358 distinct websites and still counting even picking a domain name without standing on someone else's toes becomes tricky.

  • So when picking a new domain name try and be original and have a look around. Are there sites with similar URLs that could confuse your users? If they are cybersquatters you may be able to evict them but if they have a genuine claim to that URL there's little you can do (bar pay for it like the BBC did).
  • If you already have a domain name then have a check for cybersquatters on similar URLs
  • If you're doing any link building make sure that when somebody links to your site they get the right domain name
By doing this you can hopefully make sure your users only look at porn when they want to.

Feedjit widget provides your site's most popular pages

List of most popular pages on an example siteJust stumbled across (in the traditional sense of the word not stumble upon) the feedjit site after checking out this rather interesting real time traffic map.

There's also one of those 'popular pages' widgets that you see more and more on sites these days - see image.

It won't work on every website in the world, the widget has to be able to get the information from your website - therefore it works with blogger, typepad and the open source version of Wordpress (but NOT

There's so many widgets out there and most of them are utterly pointless and not even slightly amusing. However there's no doubt in my mind that the 'recommended reading' and 'popular pages' widgets are really useful - it's just another way of highlighting other areas of your site to your users.

The live traffic map may be less helpful but i clicked on it didn't I?!

Related posts
Online popularity culture is killing good journalism
Manipulate the BBC's most emailed stories