Archive for the ‘Google’ Category

Adsense Now Allowed on Gambling, Casino, Tip and Betting Sites

A big change has just come to Google Adsense, and this may have a huge impact on advertising platforms such as Aleavendo, a gambling pay-per-click (PPC) service, which until now has looked to be a dominant PPC  advertising network for gambling sites.

Here is the Google Adsense update:

Start monetising your online gambling content with AdSense

We’ve recently updated our gambling content policies for publishers in selected countries where gambling is legal. Publishers in these countries can now apply to monetise their online gambling content. Permitted gambling content includes: online casino games, sports betting, bingo, lotteries, tips, odds, handicapping, mahjong, educational/supplemental materials and bonus codes.

Please visit our AdSense gambling policy page for more details on this new policy and contact us if you’re interested in monetising your gambling content.

It was not long ago that Google sent me an email to inform me that Runners and Riders, my dad’s horse racing blog which I manage, was in breach of Adsense policies. Looks like I will be able to pop some ads back on soon, once I get a written go-ahead from Google. Although, unfortunately my dad stopped writing his blog – just spotted that the last post was in July 2012.

Target Surfers by Age and Gender with Adwords

I guess this is a new feature, at least, I had not noticed before. Just logged in to Google Adwords and saw a new announcement:

“New! Reach people based on their age and gender

Reach customers based on their age and gender as they browse sites on the Display Network. To get started, go to the ‘Display Network’ tab and click ‘Change display targeting.’”

This is pretty handy really. Before with Adwords it was all about targeting keywords and specific sites (I think that was about it). Facebook had the upper hand as you could target people by specific age, location and interests. Now with Adwords you can target by age. Great news.

The other day I was targeting new clients on Facebook, I only wanted women in the UK from the age of 18 to 40. Could not do that in Google Adwords, until now.

The announcement links to this page on Google; Reach people of specific age and gender, which was updated on 27/09/2012. So pretty new stuff.

As it happens I received a letter from Google Adwords on Saturday morning. My son has nicked it though so not had a chance to read it!

The letter;

Google Plus Friend Recommendations Springs To Life

There has been a lot of discussion in recent months about how Google plans to start using social to promote web pages. Well, one way seems to have recently popped up – recommendations through the G+ buttons on websites.

Last night I plussed a page I had written (if I don’t recommend it, why should I expect others to?) and noticed a “RECOMMENDED ON …” link. So today I looked a little deeper, and it is certainly now standard across the site I was reviewing.

For example, on the website shown, if I am logged in to Google on my personal account it recommends a recently plussed page about bananas:

google plus hover recommendations

 

If I log out of Google, it recommends another recently plussed (more recently I think) page:

Google + page recommendation

I have already Plussed the Usain Bolt article, so that could be why it does not appear when I am logged in.

If I am logged in on the business account, I get 3 recommendations:

Google recommends I read these posts

The business page is not active on Google Plus (that is against Google TOS) but it is connected via email with my personal account. Maybe this connection is why there are 3 recommendations – my personal account is considered a trustworthy “vote” of those pages?

Certainly interesting, and no doubt more of this to come in the future.

What can we learn from it? No idea – just keep plussing my pages :)

Mom, I have Google Translate – Why Do I Need to Learn Any Languages?

Your kids can find answers to everything online. If they need to find something out, they just Google it, and you do the same thing. Google (and other search engines) have made it a cinch to connect with the information we’re seeking. In literally seconds, we can be learning about anything at all.

Google in particular has a ton of products and services that make our lives easier. In our multicultural society, one of the more prominent ones is Google Translate. And if your kids are like most kids, they probably think Google Translate is sufficient enough for all their foreign language needs.

As a parent, you know Google Translate isn’t enough. It’s no substitute for really learning and understanding a language. It’s helpful, of course, but ain’t nothin’ like the real thing, baby. You know it, but how can you convince your kids of it? Here are some things you can tell them about the importance of actually learning a second (or third, or more) language.

Google Translate is Fast, but It Isn’t Always Fast Enough

You can put anything in English into Google Translate, and it will tell you how to say it in any language you choose. If you don’t understand something written in another language, put it in Google Translate and you’ll quickly find out what it says.

This is great for surfing the Internet and typing, but it just doesn’t work in a real, live conversation. If your kids want to communicate in person with someone who speaks another language, they can’t take the time to put every word and phrase into Google Translate before talking. While the Internet can do a lot of things for us, it can’t hold our conversations for us (yet).

Google Translate isn’t Perfect

Again, Google Translate is an amazing tool. I am not here to bash it or say it should never be used. I love Google Translate, and it has many practical applications. But just like most Internet-based programs, it’s not perfect.

It will not always know how to translate something, and it won’t always give you the correct translation. In particular, it can’t determine what is actually meant by what is said (typed). It has no context to draw upon, so sometimes words with more than one meaning will be used incorrectly. When it comes to getting it right or completing your language homework, Google Translate won’t guarantee an ‘A’.

Google Translate Won’t Expose You to Culture and New People

When you learn a language, you don’t just learn how to say things. You learn about a whole new culture and way of life. When you speak any second language, you can successfully communicate with more people in the world.

Experiencing new cultures and meeting new people are the real benefits of learning another language. Google Translate is no substitute for that. In order to fully appreciate and find value in another language, you have to learn it and use it for yourself. Let your kids know – they’ll probably enjoy it.

Gregory van Wiel is a dutch-born language expert who teaches accent classes to those trying to learn English. See http://www.accentpros.com/.

Google Penguin Receives A Cold Reception

Google PenguinLast year, on 11th April 2011, my main site (certainly not this one!) was mercilessly ripped to shreds by the now infamous Google Panda update. I lost over half my traffic and three-quarters of my revenue overnight. I was so desperate I started doing jobs for other people. But, I made a full recovery about 8 months later and all was well.

Penguin – Low Quality SEO

On 24th April 2012 Google rolled out its latest major update, Penguin. While Panda tackles low quality content, Penguin tackles low quality SEO. OK, before I carry on waffling I must point out that this is not fact, just my thoughts. If you ever meet me you will quickly learn that my thoughts are not the most coherent or logical at the best of times, and at the moment I am feeling a bit peckish.

On the 24th one of my sites was affected by Penguin. The site was also affected by Panda, but I also recovered this site. The final recovery only came about a week or so before Penguin! Fortunately the site was not a big money earner, although I always had hopes that it could become something much better in the future with a little nurturing.

But it is this site being hammered that makes me think that Penguin is largely about low quality SEO, and that includes on page SEO.

What Panda taught me was that when Google says that a penalty is automated and can be fixed, they are not lying. You need to take a good, long look at your site and scrutinise everything. Ask yourself “what is the problem?“.

At the moment a lot of people are up in arms about Penguin, screaming that Google has lost the plot and the SERPs are screwed up. Well, I am not seeing that. When you are the victim things always seem much worse.

What An Affected Site Looks Like

Google Penguin Attack

Shows 2 days traffic per hour against the 2 days prior to that. The drop is 9pm GMT on the Tues 24th.

Negative SEO?

There is a lot of talk about negative SEO and that Penguin is hammering sites that did cheap and nasty link building (spun articles, directories, comment spam etc. etc.).

While this may be part of the problem, it certainly cannot be the whole issue because for my site I never did any SEO (I did hire an SEO firm in 2009 to do some directory submissions, but the last time I checked not many of their submissions were ever actually published anyway, or the sites no longer existed. They were a bit hopeless really and that was the last of that!). So off page SEO cannot be causing a penalty.

My suspicion is that some cheap SEO no longer works, it will not rank a page so highly, but it will not penalise. Some websites are declaring that sites affected by this latest update have been doing “black hat SEO”. This really does not appear to be the whole picture, although I am seeing plenty of results that have been dumped, and did use XRumer to generate thousands of links. Cause and effect? Who knows?

Keyword Spamming

OK, so my thoughts on major Penguin gripes……

Keyword spamming on your pages. I spotted a potential problem on my site (and changed it). My page titles were possibly over-optimised as I had both WordPress and an WordPress SEO plugin insert the site name into the page title in error.

So I had the same keyword phrase repeated twice on many pages. This looks stupid in the Google SERPs and I suspect that this is a problem. A quick edit of the header.php of my WordPress theme removed one of the mention of the site name.

Over Interlinking?

The site spun off from my main site a few years ago. There is a fair amount of interlinking between the two as would be expected. Maybe this is a problem. I have removed some of the links from the Penguined site to the un-Pandered site.

Penguin Not So Dramatic

The site still ranks OK for its name and a few terms. I get the impression it is just a case that it has dropped a few places for a range of search terms – I never really looked to see what people were searching for though so not sure what it no longer working.

With Panda my site / many of its pages were dumped from the top of page 1 in Google to page 2 and beyond. With Pengiun the site has dropped just a few places. This still makes a dramatic change to the traffic to the site, but it is not such a huge drop in terms of search positions.

I suspect that having a weak link profile is probably as much of a problem. Other than a few comments and the odd guest blog not done much (plus directories as mentioned above). So weak SEO and “over-optimised” titles may be my problem.

Penguin Recovery Fixes

I can fix the titles (have done so already) and I can do some marketing on the site to improve its SEO. I can also fix the interlinking. What I cannot fix though is the domain name (this may be considered spammy, I really do not know!).

However, I feel that like Panda, Penguin is something that a little (or maybe a lot) of work will fix.

Penguin News

Another step to reward high-quality sites” by Matt Cutts.

The Penguin Update: Google’s Webspam Algorithm Gets Official Name” by Danny Sullivan

New Google Webspam Algo Coming Soon” discussion on Cre8asiteforums.

 

Google Analytics Help Needed – Where Are My Old Reports?

I am reaching out for help on this one. Today Google finally switched off its old Analytics interface. Now, I am sure that the new version will provide many useful tools, but unfortunately the few tools and reports that I did use are now no longer available. Or, if they are available, I cannot work out how to access them.

In a desperate attempt to get some help I posted to Google+, included various people who consider themselves experts in Analytics (although I am not actually sure if they will see my post … ).

Google Analytics Help Needed

In the old version I mostly checked Landing Pages and the percentage of visits to each page. This was my way to quickly spotting any big changes to traffic going to particular pages.

I cannot work out how to show this in the new version. Is there a way?

Also, when I log into Analytics I used to see my dashboard (which had the most important reports at the top). Now when I log in I first see a page that tells me the language of my visitors and some system / demographic data – none of which I use.

Is there a way to create a homepage / dashboard in the new version? I have added various items to my dashboard, but it never shows by default.

Thanks!

#googleanalytics#googleanalyticsupdate

Source: https://plus.google.com/u/0/112594150264603349403/posts/dLK6zdY4NFw

I really did not use much of what there was before. But what I did use provided me with an instant, at a glance, health check for my sites.

My main site has about 20 pages which make up a large part of all landing pages. The top page would receive around 20% of total site traffic (I have been trying to diversify but it insists on being popular!). So if this figure dropped dramatically I would know there was a problem.

I was first alerted to the Google Panda update by using this method. The same reports were used in the long and arduous journey I took to fix my site and recover from Google Panda. Now it is gone.

Content > Overview Shows % Pageviews

Annoyingly, the new version does show me the percentage of pageviews for the top pages viewed. However, what people do after arriving on my site from Google, Yahoo, Bing, Facebook and various other referrals means that this information is not really idea. I want to see percentage of pageviews for the Top Landing Pages, not the most viewed pages.

Update: There is a report for Traffic Sources > Search Engine Optimsation > Landing Pages but this now requires Analytics to be connected to Webmaster Tools. Maybe this is what I need, although if it is using Webmaster Tools data it cannot be providing me with all the data from my site.

There is also a report, Content > Site Content > Landing Pages, but this shows Pages/Visit, Avg. Visit Duration, % New Visits and Bounce Rate – but not % pageviews. I have clicked around in Secondary Dimension and Advanced search in the hope of finding the data I need, butt no joy there.

So, does anyone know a way to show % pageviews for top landing pages, without exporting the data to a spreadsheet and doing the calculations.

Analytics Glove Compartment

Another daft thing is that although you can create a dashboard, it hides away. Surely the dashboard should be the default homepage? It is not a dashboard if it is not visible when you enter Analytics. More a glove compartment. Not so important, that is just an annoyance. The other bit is a show stopper at the moment.

Page Load Slow – Often Hangs

Update – I just went to look at search engine referrals after Search Engine Land talked about Blekko becoming more popular. Another crash / hang / wallop.

analytics fail

Help! Please!

Google’s Motive Behind the Mobility Acquisition

Read Stamp stating PATENTEDOn the morning of August 15, 2011, a glaring headline in every newspaper caught the attention, and baffled, many technology buffs: “Google Buys Motorola Mobility.”

The Players

For anyone that does not know better, Google is a technology behemoth and is one of the heads of the three-headed technology beast- the other two being Apple and Microsoft. On the other hand, Motorola was a once successful mobile company that has since gone downhill and was near bankruptcy when Google bought them out. Newspaper columnists around the country were confused by Google’s move (and still are, more than half a year later). Especially, considering the whopping pay-out Motorola received: $12.5 billion!

Was it the Patent Portfolio?

Google paid good money for Motorola and according to many insiders Google bought Motorola in order to get their hands on Motorola’s stash of more than 25,000 patents. Over the past few years, there has been a “patent war” between Google, Apple and Microsoft- which has led to numerous, very costly legal battles over who owns what and who is violating whose patents. All in all, it is a huge mess that is extremely costly to the U.S. judicial system and every company wants as many patents as they can get their hands on.

There was similar consternation over the patents belonging to Nortel, which was selling their patents to the highest bidder. In the end, Microsoft and Apple got the goods, but had to pay an exorbitant amount of money for them.

Another Possibility

Another theory is that Google bought Motorola in order to gain control of the contentious and ultra-competitive Android market. Google might vertically integrate, by not only offering the operating system for mobile devices, but my selling the devices themselves. This theory explains why Google paid so much money for the entity itself (rather than just buying the patents), but is confusing in that such a move might alienate the other device manufacturers who currently offer Google’s Android operating system on their products; why promote the competition?

Google Plays Defense?

In the end, Google’s true motive is still unknown. The action may have been a simple defensive move to prevent Microsoft or Apple from bolstering their patent portfolios even more (the Mobility transaction affected more than three times the number of patents that what Microsoft and Apple got in the Nortel deal,).

A Hidden Gem?

The acquisition of the entity itself may simply be a side-effect of the patent transaction, which has allowed Google to dip their toes in the hardware market and provide some alternatives. Some questions are still left unanswered by these theories and the general consensus is that Google doesn’t operate without a clear direction (aka motive). Some pundits have speculated that Google may have seen something in Motorola’s portfolio that they believe will be worth a lot of money in the future. Only time will tell if that is true or false.

The only Known Fact – Google wants to Dominate Mobile

The interesting thing about Google getting into the hardware business is that Google has never done any hardware work before. They have always been a software-focused company. Some people believe that Google will use the Motorola hardware as a way to test new software- kind of like a pilot program. The one thing that is crystal clear is that Google wants to dominate the smartphone world in the same manner that it has dominated the web search advertising market. Google has never been a company known to sit back and relax. Google has always been a company that surges forward- always competing, always innovation, always on the frontier of new technology.

Jonathan Martin is a Magento developer at Coolblueweb.com who understands that the next major battlefield in online marketing and website development will come in the realm of mobile platforms.

Google Blog Posts from the Last 6 Years

[toc]

I have blogged about Google a lot since firing up the Webo blog in 2006. I have decided to compile the blog posts here in one handy and easy to read page. I may add an index to the top of this page if I can find that WordPress plugin again. These posts are in reverse chronological order, starting in 2007 and going up to 2009.

Again, this blog post is in reverse chronological order, so oldest posts down at the bottom.

YouTube is Broken!

It does seem that in years gone by Google had a lot more server issues than they do today.

Just gone to YouTube.com to see the latest video clips from the top vloggers in the SEO and web design industry and it is not working. All I get is this:

Internal Server Error

The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

Please contact the server administrator, [email protected] and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

More information about this error may be available in the server error log.


Apache Server at www.youtube.com Port 80
 

Embedded videos are still playing though. Just their homepage offline. Well, the server that runs the website offline. I guess there is a separate server that stores the videos.

Google to Charge People to Read the News

Dec 2, 2009

In what seems like a U-Turn on the dream of making the Internet more accessible, Google have announced plans to limit how much news people can read.

Newspaper publishers will now be able to set a limit on the number of free news articles people can read through Google, the company has announced.

The concession follows claims from some media companies that the search engine is profiting from online news pages.

Under the First Click Free programme, publishers can now prevent unrestricted access to subscription websites.

Users who click on more than five articles in a day may be routed to payment or registration pages.

“Previously, each click from a user would be treated as free,” Google senior business product manager Josh Cohen said in a blog post.

Luckily the BBC is still free – although maybe one day non-license payers may no longer have access? Oh no, they just see lots of Adsense!

WHY DOESN’T THE BBC PUT ADVERTS ON FOR IS UK PEOPLE AND ABANDON THE LICENCE FEE?

Read more over at the BBC News Centre

Google Provides More Templates for Google Sites

Nov 17, 2009

Google is developing Google Sites into a new free web hosting service. Maybe they have responded to the closure of Yahoo’s Geocities. They have stated that they have seen a large increase in businesses using Google Sites.

I’m pleased to announce we just added a stocked gallery of site templates in Google Sites. Anyone can browse the public template gallery, and businesses using Google Apps each have a private area where employees can share site templates with coworkers.

The rate that businesses are adopting Google Sites has surpassed our expectations, and templates will make Sites even more useful by dramatically reducing the time it takes to set up collaborative workspaces like employee intranetsproject tracking sitesteam sites and employee profile pages. Templates let you quickly start a new site with pre-built content, embedded gadgets, page layouts, navigation links, theming and more. Read more – Google.com

New site hierarchies display in search results

Nov 17, 2009

Interesting changes to the way Google displays search results.  In addition to the website URL it will also show a breadcrumn style trail from the homepage whenever it can.

Posted: 17 Nov 2009 08:02 AM PST

Google usually shows a green web address, or URL, at the bottom of each search result to let you know where you’re headed. Today we’re rolling out an improvement that replaces the URL in some search results with a hierarchy showing the precise location of the page on the website. The new display provides valuable context and new navigation options. The changes are rolling out now and should be available globally in the next few days.

Some web addresses help you understand the structure of the site and how the specific page fits into the site hierarchy. For example, consider a search for the biography of Vint Cerf (Google’s Internet Evangelist). The URL for one result, “www.google.com/corporate/execs.html,” shows that the page is located in a page about “execs,” under “corporate,” which is on the “google.com” site. This can provide valuable context when deciding whether to click on the result.

Often, however, URLs are too long, too short, or too obscure to add useful information. For example, consider this result from ProductWiki for the query.

Read more: GoogleBlog.Blogspot.com

Google Mail is Broken Again! Server Down. No Warning. Outage! Outrage!

Sep 24, 2009

Temporary Error (503)

We’re sorry, but your Google Mail account is temporarily unavailable. We apologise for the inconvenience and suggest trying again in a few minutes.

Once again the GMail servers have died. Right in the middle of the day (or start of the day for the Americas). Come on Google. Fix your servers! Many people are starting to rethink the whole idea of using cloud servers for either business or personal email. Maybe time to go back to POP3.

Is GMail Broken Again?

Sep 1, 2009

Google Mail Server is Down!
Google Mail Server is Down!

I cannot access GMail of Google Chat. Other Google products appear to be working. Actually, Analytics is playing up, as earlier I could not set up a new account. Sudden feeling of panic – over reliance on Google and the cloud?

OK, ISP’s in the past have had their far share of downtime, but we have come to expect better from our friends at Google. Isn’t their infrastructure supposed to be the best? How are they going to run their Chrome operating systems in the cloud if their web mail service fails? Come on Google, get wake up the spanners and coders and get it fixed! I have work to do!

Is Your Business Ready to “Go Google”?

Aug 4, 2009 

Google are now actively promoting their product to a wider audience – al professional companies and businesses across the globe. They are explaining to people how and why they should use their office products, i.e. email, documents, messaging etc. instead of traditional PC based applications. Here is an exceprt from the official Goolge Blog:

“Every morning, millions of people wake up to a very refreshing experience at work. They don’t see “mailbox is full” errors in their email. They don’t worry about backing up their data. They can get to any file they need from any computer, anywhere with Internet access and a browser. They can all access and edit the same documents and spreadsheets at the same time as their colleagues. They use Gmail and Google Calendar at work as fluidly and easily as they use their personal Gmail accounts. They video, voice and text chat with their peers globally as naturally as they send email.

The IT people at these companies and organizations don’t waste time or money buying, installing or managing email servers. They focus on the smart, innovative stuff they want to work on, because they never have to bother with expensive and painful software upgrades, hardware compatibility issues or managing data centers. They have left many IT frustrations and costs behind and moved on to something better.

Here at Google, we have a term for the moment a company realizes there’s a better way and goes for it: “going Google.” Posted by Andy Berndt, Managing Director, Google Creative Lab

So, are you ready to take your business into the clouds, and Go Google?

Source: Going Google with Google Apps

Google Chief Eric Schmidt Quits Apple Board

Aug 3, 2009

Google’s SEO Eric Schmidt is resigning from Apple’s board of directors. The reason is the increasing rivalry between the two companies, and the issue that two of the biggest tech companies in the world are sharing directors can have implications regarding competition and insider information and antitrust rules. Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple said in a statement today that Schmidt was having to exit more meetings due to the fact that the two companies, that were previously operating in different markets, and getting increasingly closer.

Google has recently expanded into the computer and mobile-phone software, creating direct competitors to Apple’s products. Google’s G1 mobile phone using its mobile operating system called Android is now competing with Apple’s iPhone. Also, Google has announced that it is planning to launch its own PC operating system, called Chrome, which will be in direct competition with Apple’s Mac computers, as well as Microsoft.

Although it is a great loss for Apple, and a real shame that some of the greatest minds in the IT arena can no longer sit around the same table, it is certainly a good move for the industry and shareholders alike.

Google Declared a Facilitator of Web Content, Not a Publisher

Jul 21, 2009

Yesterday Google was in the UK High Court. The ruling was in favour of Google, and was that Google is not liable for any defamatory comments that appear in its SERPs (search engine results pages). Mr. Justice Eady ruled that Google’s search engine was not responsible for comments relating to Metropolitan International Business Schools, who specialise in distance learning courses. The court declared that Google is merely a facilitator of content on the internet, and not a publisher.

This leads to an interesting question for all webmasters. What is the meaning of published content now? If you display RSS feeds from other websites, are you responsible for the content that appears or not? To what point, if at all, will you be responsible?

Google Explains its Latest Map Search Results

Jul 10, 2009

Today Google explains a little more about the developments with its photo-mapping search engine. From now on, if there is a photo of a place available relevant to a location specific search request, it will be shown alongside the search results.

Since purchasing Panoramio, Google has been playing with photos within Google Maps. And there there was StreetView. Before that there was satellite images too. Local search is heating up, and Google seems to be placing itself in a very strong position. It cannot be long before old school directories like Yell.com will no longer be required. Source: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/07/seeing-world-with-improved-google.html

Seeing the world with improved Google Search results: As an avid traveler, I know how helpful it can be to see a map when searching for a location on Google. Using our Universal Search technology, we have provided maps in our Universal Search technology, we have provided maps in our search results for more than two years. However, as any traveler could tell you, knowing the geographical location of a place is only part of the story. It’s often just as valuable to get a sense of what the place is like, and there’s no better way to do that than by looking at images of some of its most important sights Now, when you search for locations using Google Search you may see pictures from that place alongside a map. You can click on any of those images to go to the photos layer on Google Maps where you can browse many more geo- tagged photos.

Google Adsense Now Shows Earnings in Pounds

This was a long time coming, so nice to now be able to know how much money I have made without having to do an FX calculation each day!

Jul 2, 2009

For all the British Adsense clients out there, there is some good news. You can now switch your reporting from USD to GBP. Finally daily revenue can be seen immediately, without having to look up the current FX rate and grabbing the calculator. I am not sure at the moment if the GBP figure is just a guideline and then adjusted daily / monthly, or if Google is using daily spot FX rates. Hopefully the latter, that we know for sure how much money we are making in the month.

To update your account from dollars into pounds just look out for the prompt when you next sign in to your Google Adsense account, or click on your account and change preferences.

Google’s Wacky Tetris Search Logo

Jun 6, 2009

Google's Tetris Logo - 25 Year Birthday
Google’s Tetris Logo – 25 Year Birthday

Just seen today’s custom Google Search logo, and it is in celebration of 25 years of the Tetris effect. Looks pretty funky, certainly caught my eye and made me ask – what the hell?

If you fancy playing Tetris online now, the best way is to visit the Tetris.com website and play for free. Although their server is a little slow at times……. but never mind about that, look at the cool logo!

Google Error Causes World’s Largest Traffic Jam

May 15, 2009

Yesterday Google managed to cause the world’s largest ever traffic jam. However, we are not talking about trouble on the roads, but internet traffic. Due to a technical glitch, yesterday thousands of people were almost cut off from the internet. What happened to Google?

Yesterday Google’s search engine, email service (GMail) and news services experienced technical problems. Some say that the servers crashed. This caused a knock-on effect to millions of other websites, including Google’s YouTube, which was useless for hours.

Some people were even unable to access their online bank accounts as Google Analytics software (for website owners to monitor site use) failed, and rather than allowing the page requests to skip the analysis, they just froze.

Google provided an explanation; “An error caused us to direct some of our web traffic through Asia, which created a traffic jam. As a result about 14% of our users experienced slow services or even interruptions.”

The Google traffic jam started at about 14:30hrs, which is a busy time online. The Brits have had their lunch, and are surfing for something else to do other than work, and the Americans are waking up and checking their blogs and getting their news reports.

However, should wee be surprised that this happened? It is really quiet impressive that there are not more problems like this on the internet now. Many web hosts suffer temporary outages, but these are only seen my a minority of users. For Google, with its code embedded into so many websites, it reminds us how good they really are.

Google has apologised for all the inconvenience caused, and I trust them to learn from their mistakes, and use this as an opportunity to direct some of their best developers to improve the infrastruture.

Did you have a problem accessing the internet yesterday? Let us know.

Google Invests $90,000 in Drupal CMS

May 1, 2009

Google continues to promote and encourage open source technologies by agreeing to sponsor Drupal modules in the net “summer of code”.

“Google just announced that they will sponsor 18 Drupal developer stipends in this year’s Summer of Code program (SoC). Google provides a stipend of 5,000 USD to each student developer, of which 4,500 USD goes to the student and 500 USD goes to Drupal Association (or to the mentors). With 18 accepted applications this adds up to a 90,000 USD investment over a three-month period. In addition to Drupal, they are supporting a ton of other Open Source projects, including PHP, which Drupal heavily depends on.

The accepted students, their projects, and the mentors are listed on the official Drupal.org announcement. Congratulations to all successful applicants, and thanks to the Drupal Summer of Code organizers, the Drupal mentors, and last but not least, Google. Awesome!” Source: Dries Buytaert, Creator of Drupal, on his blog: http://buytaert.net/google-to-invest-90000-usd-in-drupal

Drupal is open source, meaning that anyone can download it and install it on their server for free. Many web hosts provide installation as part of their service too. It is a very powerful piece of software, with some of the best multiple permissions options for users around. It is also highly customisable too.

Thief Uses Google Earth to Source Roof Lead

Apr 22, 2009

Recently we reported that some people were concerned that Google Street View would be used by thieves to view propereties and identify cars. It has now emerged that one ciminal has used Google Earth to source lead from roofs before carrying out raids under the cover of darkness.

Tom Berge, 27, admitted to earning thousands of pounds sterling by selling stolen roofing material, which he initially sourced by examining satellite and aeriel images of historic buildings on Google Earth. In total Tom Berge raiding 30 roofs using Google Earth to find suitable materials.

Commodity prices have actually seen a rise in value and recent years despite the credit crunch, and lead is sought after. Some local councils have had to start erecting fibre glass lamp posts to reduce crime, as the traditional metal ones were taken down and recycled by commodity theives.

Google Search Word Highlighting – Looks Awful

This turned out to be something I switched on accidentally, I think. Never happened again!

Apr 5, 2009

I just did a search on Google and on the results pages the search words were highlighted in yellow. This is slightly annoying, but it can help to pick out the words in the results. However, when navigating to a page, the results are still all highlighted. This is the same as when you viewed a cached page on Google. With the live pages, it looks really awful. Keywords being printed in bold by the publisher is often bad enough, but having a search engine interfer with the way a page looks is just no on at all. And there is no obvious way to switch the “service” off either.

And there’s more. Even on other pages that you view, even of not searching for those keywords, they appear highlighted. Maybe thios is just a Sunday glitch in the sysem. Maybe the Google work experience boy was left to play with the code, and thought that he was in the test environment. Hopefully this is the case, and it will change back shortly. Please let this be the case!

Example of Google Search Results Coloured In

Google colors in search term keywords on another page
Google colors in search term keywords on another page

Example of Google coloring in keywords on a page (different page to search results)

Google search results are colored in
Google search results are colored in

What Time is Earth Hour?

Mar 29, 2009

Just stumbled across this on the Google blog, and looks like I probably missed Earth Hour. I could have switched my server off (I have one home server that hardly serves anything!), but too late now.  I used to be a very green person. I was a member of the Uni Conservation Society, I even worked in the environmental research branch of the Foresty Commission for a while, so at heart I still think green, although admittedly in recent years, I have done less, and consumed more. Here is the deal straight from the horses (the horse being Google) mouth:

Cities around the world will participate in Earth Hour on Saturday, turning off their lights to raise awareness for energy conservation.

Earth Hour is about more than dimming lights; it’s about making a commitment to reduce energy consumption throughout the year. At Google, we take this commitment seriously and over the past twelve months we’ve worked hard to reduce Google’s own power use and to help others reduce theirs

This is one of the things that is great about Google. I have worked in an international bank for over a decade, and there is always talk of energy initiatives and the like, but they really make no effort. Recently LCD screens went up by the lifts on all floors, allegedly to provide information. 99% of the time they just show the company logo and a bunch of self congratulating marketing crap. But the most annoying thing is that no-one ever looks at them, as they are in the lift lobby. Nobody hangs around the lift lobby.

My company also places glossy brochures on our desks in a regular basis (this initiative apparently comes from the motherland, and is not UK driven) but with have an intranet and email that can deliver these messages quicker, cheaper and more efficiently than printing glossy magazines and fliers that only a few people actually look at. Google would never do this. At least I assume that they do not do this. Madness. Waste of resources.

Google allows Gambling, Casinos and Betting Ads, in the UK

Oct 17, 2008

Bookmakers and online casinos can now advertise on Google, in the UK.

Yesterday Google received royal approval when the Queen, but was condemned as “irresponsible” by MPs and church leaders for lifting its four-year ban and allowing gambling companies to buy “sponsored links” on its site in Britain.

Google introduced a global ban on gambling adverts on its site in 2004, but decided to end it for British customers after rules on television advertising for bookmakers, casinos and gambling websites were relaxed.

Google insisted that all advertisers using the service would have to be regulated in Britain or Europe and would have to have internet links to organisations helping problem gamblers. But critics condemned the move, saying the adverts could attract people hit by the global economic downturn.

Google insisted that its UK-based advertisers would have to be registered with the British Gambling Commission before advertising, while European operators would also have to be licensed in their home country. All would have to have links to the GamCare website. This news has given rise to some new Casino portals / directories in the UK, such as Casino Marker – UK’s Street Casino Directory.

James Cashmore of Google said:

“We’ve decided to amend our policy to allow text ads to appear against search queries related to gambling in Great Britain. We hope this will enhance the search experience for users and help advertisers connect with interested consumers. Gambling ads will automatically be classified as Non-Family Safe which means they will not show on any search where the user has applied the Safe Search filter.”

Blogger Google Blogspot is having trouble posting to FTP Servers

I cannot believe how short this post was, no wonder Webo got a Panda slap!

May 24, 2008 

Not sure what the correct terminology is, but Blogger FTP appears to be dead.

If I were not so drunk on the Jack Daniels my parents bought me for my birthday, I’d complain.

Google is the UK’s Fav Brand

Feb 25, 2008

The World’s most popular Internet Search Engine, Google, has knocked the BBC off the top spot as the UK’s favourite brand. The online giant came first in Superbrands’ annual survey of the UK’s top names, ahead of BP and Microsoft. The BBC came third in the poll, based on the views of 1,500 professionals. The broadcaster came first last year. Google, launched as a private company in 1998, is the one of the the only two firms in the top 50 established after 1990, eBay being the other. Stephen Cheliotis, chairman of the Superbrands Council, said; “The top 10 is dominated by companies who are either British stalwarts such as BA and BP, or like GlaxoSmithKline can trace their origins to the UK.”

CheckGmail application for Linux / Ubuntu

Sep 30, 2007 

I was just browsing the web for interesting applications that can be installed onto my new linux box, and came across CheckGmail. This is a very simple tool that places a Gmail icon on the top menu bar of Ubuntu, and displays a small pop-up message when a new message comes in. On hover over a window is displayed which shows the most recent emails. Very simple. You no longer need to open up a web browser and log into Gmail to see new mails.

Get it simply by: apt-get install checkgmail

So, if like me, you have set up a Linux box for web development projects and the like, but have not fully moved over to Linux, then this is a handy way to keep track or mails without having to set up your email accounts on Linux. Yet another reason to have a Google account!

Google Streetview in the News

[toc]

When Google Streetview was launched it caused all sorts of controversy. I took a good long look at it and found a few amusing things myself. Here is what I found.

Google Proves that Sunglasses and a Moustache is a Good Disguise

Apr 6, 2009

I just walked along Santa Monica Pier, which is impressive seeing that I am currently sitting in my house in the UK. I was using Google’s 360 Street View photos, and pretty much took a personal tour of LA. Great fun.

While taking my tour I noticed that one individual did not have his face blurred. There were actually 3 or 4 photos of the same person (I assume that on the pier the Street View camera was pushed at walking pace for safety reasons) and in all the photos this chap was not blurred. But he was wearing dark sunglasses and has a large moustache. So maybe Google does not recognise this as a face. Which means, it is the perfect disguise!

Man with Bushy Moustache and Sunglasses is not Blurred Out by Google
Man with Bushy Moustache and Sunglasses is not Blurred Out by Google

One other thing I discovered while taking my tour of Santa Monica Pier (the geographer in me really loves this new Google service!) is that LA piers have rock shops. I thought that rock (as in the sweet / candy, not the geological stuff) was something unique to the UK, but on Santa Monica Pier there is a place called Oatman Rock Shop. It has just occurred to me that maybe this place does actually sell rocks of the mineral variety. Any readers from Santa Monica here that can confirm either way?

Santa Monica Pier – Google Street View – Caught on Camera!

Santa Monica Pier - Google Streetview Image - Oatman Rock Shop
Santa Monica Pier – Google Street View Image – Oatman Rock Shop

Notice the chap taking a photo of the streetview camera team!

Google Street View May Be Pulled in UK

Mar 24, 2009

Google Street View may be switched off in the UK while a formal enquiry is carried out by information minister, Richard Thomas. Privacy International says that the website is still showing clear images of people and registration plates. In one case a woman who had fled a violent partner was photographed outside her new home. In another case two work colleagues were photographed kissing and cuddling, when they should have been home with their spouses. Google says that the privacy protection technology is in place. However, it would seem that it requires a little polish to get it fit for public scrutiny.

Google Streetview Spots Health and Safety Risk on Building Site

Mar 22, 2009

It is a real shame in a way that Google street view is a not a live service, being streamed from CCTV cameras. OK, people will have even more to should about, but here is an example of where it can highlight potentially dangerous situations. In this view of Cambridge Road, in the Barnes are of London, we see two builders taking a break from working on a basement. However, there appears to be no safety barriers to stop members of the public stumbling to their deaths. Maybe health and sfatey need to take a look. However, the basement is no doubt finished by now. Unless that tea break dragged on for a while.

Health and Safety? Google Street View Reveals Giant Hole (click to enlarge)
Health and Safety? Google Street View Reveals Giant Hole (click to enlarge)

Google Streetview Under New Attack – Children Put At Risk!

This is a great example of the tabloid press gone bonkers (or more bonkers than normal)

Mar 22, 2009

We are only three days into the Google streetview of London, and already people have escalated concerns to the highest level. Now, people fear that our children are at risk from paedophiles. The argument is that would be child abductors can browse children online, using Googles mapping software, and pretty much pick and chose which child they snatch. All they have to do is look up some schools on Google maps, and see which children are waiting for a bus, or to be picked up, outside.

Well, we put this to the test, and can report that after viewing dozens of schools in London, we could not see a single child. Google seem to have chosen to do some areas when the streets are very quiet, possibly long before the schools open, or at weekends. Google are not putting our children at risk.

Google 360 Streetview – Unblurred Images of London

I was obviously wandering the streets near where I worked to see if I could see myself on this day!

Mar 21, 2009

We have stumbled across more unblurred photos people and vehicle registration plates (number plates) in London. Some areas of London, especially in the Moorgate and London Wall area, seem to have largely been missed off the blur list. Many recognisable people wandering about the streets when they probably should be in work! It seems that Google has some work to do to get streetview updated in line with its own privacy policies.

Streetview of a street linking Finsbury Circus to London Wall

Clearly Recognisable People on Finsbiry Circus - London Street View
Clearly Recognisable People on Finsbury Circus – London Street View (click to enlarge)

Willow St, Hackney, London Street View – Lorry Driver taking a break? Willow Street, London - Lorry Driver taking a break, or driving with no hands?

Willow Street, London – Lorry Driver taking a break, or driving with no hands? (click to enlarge)

There are probably countless other examples of where Google has “failed to protect the privacy of people” on the streets of London. Google have a bit of reputation management to do now, as similar reports to this have been spread across the tabloid press in the last couple of days.

The funniest thing really though is that while we are just pointing out a few failures on Google’s part, we do not actually think that there is anything fundamentally wrong with your image appearing in a photo online. What is funny is that tabloid press complaining that Google is invading people’s privacy, and then displaying the photos in newspapers, meaning that the images will be seen by tens of thousands of people that would never have seen the photo otherwise. Once again it seem that the tabloid press is invading people’s privacy, and not Google. Of course, they will say that they are reporting the facts, for the benefit of the British people.

Google 360 Degrees Street View is Live for London

Mar 19, 2009

After months of legal discussions, Google’s innovative streetview photography is now available for London. London is possibly one of the most popular tourist hotspots in Europe, and now would be tourists can check out the area before jumping on a plane.

There has been, and still is, a lot of opposition to the 360 degree view of every street. Some believe that it is an invasion of our privacy, some scaremongers go so far as to suggest that criminals could use it to learn about areas (as if it is difficult to walk around London without being noticed) and many worry that they may be recognised in a photo getting up to no good, chatting to the wrong people or doing business with street characters,

Google have dismissed all these fears, with all faces being blurred out, and car registration plates also blanked out.

In addition to this any user can flag an image for removal, and Google are still striving to gather better photos for all areas.

However this is not stopping the campaigners from carrying on with their fight to stop street photography, kindly fighting for the rights of others to remain hidden and secretive, even when in public places.

Snapshot of a London Street View:

Moorgate, London
Moorgate, London

Google Analytics Developments and Issues

[toc]

This page covers Google Analytics changes and developments and it presented in reverse chronological order (latest news on top!).

Google Analytics Accounts are Being Updated

Nov 21, 2011 

Please note – this blog post serves to vent my frustration mostly. It is a rant.

If you have been using Google Analytics for a few years then you will be well aware that a major change is happening. I am so far finding this new version a royal PITA. Although the old version had its problems, it was easy to set up a dashboard that displayed useful information that I could work with.

I just posted a question to the Google Analytics help forum and am now waiting patiently for an answer. I have been playing with the new version, trying to find some useful documents on how to set it up, and mostly failed so far. This is my question to Google, copied from the forum (I see no reason to re-write my own words):

I am really struggling with this new version. I used to be able to get all the information I needed from my dashboard but now cannot get it to show half the info I use to work from.

E.g., on my old version’s Dashboard I see Keywords with a % of visits for each, Top Landing Pages with a % of visits for each, search engines with a % of visits for each and content overview and referring sites with a % of visits for each.

The % of visits really is something that I work with as it shows changes to the site much better than just showing total visitors. But in the new version Overiew page (default start page) is all but useless to me, so I have to click dashboard. Doing this seems to reset the date range, so I have to change this again, then when I get there all I see is total Pageviews for Pages. for Landing Pages a figure that is Entrances/Pageviews (what is this?), Sources has % Exit (who cares?) then Landing Pages has Bounces. I have looked through the settings and tried different options but cannot get % to show. This is the data I need and the data I have been using for years.

Please help! I am sure there is a way to get this info, and ideally to display on the homepage, without having to keep changing the date range on every page reload too (which is become EX|EXTREMELY frustrating).

Overall, so far not impressed!

Oh, and sometimes the data in the new version is just wrong. Even with the date range set, some fields / boxes show different data. e.g. Pages, Sources. is showing the correct values for Nov 20, 2011, but Landing Page is showing something else, I guess a month worth of data.

And if anyone can let me know what the point of real-time reporting is, please let me know.

That is that really.

Oh, and remember the last big Google Analytics Update, the one I was so positive about, well, that feature seems to be gone now too.

At the moment I can still click “Old Version” and get the information that I need. What really annoys me is this assumption that everyone works in the same way and that everyone should be happy with the new format. Why couldn’t Google update the platform and provide the option to change the format of EVERYTHING instead of make the changes default.

And really, real-time analytics? I guess for sites with huge amounts of traffic, a massive social media presence and a department dedicated to staring at analytics screens all day long, it can be useful. But for the rest of us, it is interesting for about 30 seconds, and then you realise that you have to do some work. Staring at real-time analytics is not exactly the most productive use of my time. In fact, writing this blog is not either.

Google Analytics Keywords showing (not provided)

Oct 19, 2011

screen shot of google ssl search pageIf you use Google Analytics to monitor traffic to your website you may have noticed that a new popular keyword is “(not provided)”. Don’t worry, you have not accidentally optimised your site for “not provided“, it is the new Google secure search being rolled out as the default form of search for logged in users.

So what is Google secure search? And why? Well, since the China incident Google have really got serious about security. They are making their systems more and more secure for users and clients alike all the time. This latest change simply means that if you are logged in to your Google account, from now on (it is still being rolled out apparently) when you search Google you will be directed to https://www.google.com. This is a secure domain, which means that your private data is less prone to theft.

SSL (short for secure sockets layer) ensure that all data is encrypted from “end-to-end”, one end being your computer and the other end being Google. This means that your searches cannot be intercepted by third parties, making your data more private. You probably would not want other people knowing what you are searching for some of the time, this system protects that. Such spies could simply be webmasters, advertising partners and other people who gather data on you to then use to target you later.

Google explain the whole thing much better than me here; SSL Search: www.google.com/support/websearch/bin/answer.py?answer=173733

Confusing for Webmasters!

If you are a webmaster who monitors search referrals this may become a bit annoying as in time more and more searches will be recorded as “(not provided)”. It could make optimising a site harder and also mean that if you lose ranking for a set of keywords you may not notice straight away – or at all!

At the moment there appears to be no known way to work around this – and that is probably the whole idea. If a webmaster could find a way to extract that information from a reader / searcher then that would mean data has been passed over that should not have been.

No doubt in the next few weeks as this is rolled out to more users there will be a lot of people moaning on the webmaster forums. Something else to complain about!

What is Google Analytics Intelligence?

Nov 15, 2009

Google Analytics has a new tool in Beta called Intelligence. It allows users to set up alerts.

It is hoped that Analytics Intelligence will act as a personal assistant who will report on important changes to user interaction with your website. It will report any major changes, such as an increase in traffic from a particular country or town, a change in keyword referrals or if people are spending longer reading pages.

“it can find key information for you and your professional analysts — so that your team can focus on making strategic decisions, instead of sifting through an endless sea of data.” – Google.com

It is a great way to learn about important changes on your site without having to compare hundreds of metrics every day. Besides, even if you do monitor various metrics, the one important one that is rocking your site may go unnoticed.

You can learn moore on Google’s dedicated Analytics blog: analytics.blogspot.com.

Google Analytics Dashboard Update

Nov 4, 2008

Google have finally updated the Analytics dashboard. Until now, on logging in to a Google Analytics account, all the domains were listed, but with no reported information shown. Now, for each domain, you can quickly see the number of visits, average time on site, bounce rate, completed goals and % Change (hits). Also, it is possible to specify either a daily view, weekly or monthly. The % change is a great addition, as growth trends can quickly be identified.

There are still several short comings and minor annoyances with the Google Analytics software, but this is a sign that they are making an effort to improve on the product.

 

New Google Homepage Design – Planning for a New Google?

Google have updated their homepage with new drop-down and fly-out menus. Gmail continues to look more like Google+ and even Blogger has had a makeover. The less said about Google Analytics the better, but that and Adsense have also had makeovers this year. Without doubt, this has been the busiest year for Google designers.

So, what is the plan? Why are they making so many changes now? The fact that everything is starting to look more like the Google+ style suggests to me that the ultimate plan is simply to unify all the major Google products under one hub – Google+. Why?

Well, Google needs Google+ to ensure that it holds major market share. Although Google has the lion’s share of search today, if that is lost it loses much of its business. This has been the major criticism of Google for many years, at least from shareholders and investors.

New Google homepage

New Google homepage

Millions of people use Gmail, Google Docs, Adsense, Adwords and Analytics daily as part of their business and then use Facebook for leisure. What Google are doing (IMHO) are attempting to create a single platform that combines all their products so that users can move from one area (business, email etc.) seamlessly into other new areas (social). This will help Google to slowly encroach on Facebook’s turf and steal some of the market share from under their feet.

Google have the users, the users are just focused on working rather than playing. But that is not all they are doing. I have noticed in the last couple of days that we can now sign in to Yahoo products with a Google account. There are some issues, but I did sign into Yahoo’s Contributor Network using my Google account yesterday and noticed that I can also connect my account to Yahoo Answers (although this morning it was broken).

What all this is leading to is a general Google friendly Internet that should provide many people with reasons to move away from Facebook.

Facebook has been making some attempts to spread its wings, mostly by working with the blogging community with Facebook comments integrated into blogs, but there is far less opportunity for Facebook clients to move around outside of Facebook’s walls at the moment. Google seems to be drawing people in while allowing them to spread their wings and discover new areas.

Google Pages – Like Facebook Pages but Better

Google Pages are being rolled at as I type this. Google Pages are really like a combination of Google Places (Maps) and Facebook Pages. They are designed to allow people to set up causes, business profiles, fan areas etc.

Pages will be created within Google+, which is Google’s new social media and social networking site. The options that I am currently aware of include (my thoughts on these added in the brackets):

  • Local Business of Place (maybe location data in Google profiles will link to Pages).
  • Product of Brand (probably ideal for digital media, websites, blogs etc. with no street address).
  • Company, Institution or Organisation (although maybe this is good for websites?).
  • Arts, Entertainment or Sports (I guess fanzines will go here along with sporting personalities and music pages.
  • Other (no idea, anything else I guess).

In Google’s words, creating a page brings you closer to your customers, fans and followers on Google+. It really makes it sound exactly the same as Facebook Pages. However, will it really be as good?

One of the main benefits of Facebook Pages is that it allows you to set up a business page without it being linked in any way to your personal profile. For example, I have a page for Essex Portal where I post site updates and details of events in Essex, but visitors to that page do not see a link to my personal profile so I do not get pestered and spammed by random Essex based business who want to get me to like all their stuff.

At the moment I have no idea if Google Pages will keep your personal Google Profile separate from your Page. I get the impression that Google is very much a supporter of free but open and transparent communication, meaning that the creators of Pages will be publicly broadcast.

“A number of pages are already available (see below), but any organization will soon be able to join the community at plus.google.com/pages/create.”

Features of Google Pages

Some features that we do know are in the pipeline are:

  • Hangouts – Google Hangouts are a way to quickly set up video conferencing with a group of people. 10 people can currently be active in the conference in one go but more can listen in. They are by invite only. They will provide a great way for communities and clubs to talk online and could eventually replace Skype.
  • Circles for Pages – Pages will have Circles too, so a social group could have different circles for management and other sections and only share the information with specific people.
  • Google +1 buttons for Pages – Seems that Google Pages will have +1 buttons so that you can get people to shares your Google Page easily.
Google Pages could be set to be the next big social media / SEO tool. A way to reach out to new clients and showcase your online business via the Google network. Google have been saying all year to focus on building a social community and this seems to fit the bill. Watch this space.
Screen shot of Google Pages introduction

Google Pages

Google have explained more about their Google Pages on their blog: Google+ Pages: connect with all the things you care about.

The Muppets Google+ Hangout!

Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy invite you to chat with them in a Hangout!

(it won’t help you to understand Google Pages!)

 

What does it take to get a job at Google?


An infographic that takes you through the Google job application process

Highlights of the Google Job Application Infographic

  • Google receives over a million resumes each year
  • They hire 4000 – 6000 people each year
  • Every resume / CV is screened
  • Recruiters conduct initial telephone interviews if you pass ….
  • On site interview with 4-5 people over 45 minutes
  • Then Google managers discuss everything about you
  • Google focusses on hiring good talent – Google looks for the “X Factor”
  • Google is expanding fast
  • Increased by 25% so far in 2011 with plans to add 6200 workers
  • With 31,000 employees Google is still 1/3 the size of Microsoft
  • Google salaries are very generous
This infographic was produced by Jobvine. Source: http://www.jobvine.co.za/what-does-it-take-to-get-a-job-at-google/

New Google Search Results Layout

Just seen a new Google search results layout. Rather than the traditional view with the the “cached” and “similar” links below the description snippet, now you click a big grey arrow to the right of the result to open up the preview which then has the extra details too. This all covers up the right hand adverts, so the preview is bigger.

I like it, it looks neat and clean. Refreshing to see a page on Google search with no adverts on it too. I wonder what else Google have planned though. Sure this must just be a transitional view or a test. It is too uncluttered at the moment!

An example:

screenshot of google search results

Google Flight Search is Launched

A while back I blogged about Google buying ITA Software. In fact, it was only in April 2011, but seems much longer ago for some reason. Anyway, today Google have given us a first look at the new product that they have put together using the ITA Software that they acquired earlier this year.

If you search for flights in Google from today you should see a Flights link on the lefthand side below Everything. It is not visible yet from here (a bit outside London) but Google assure us on their blog that it is live in the USA.

I just did a flight search on Google.com and flight details are displayed in the search results;

For example, as search for “flights from new york to london” brings up this result:

 

Flights from New York, NY (all airports) to London, UK (all airports)

Flights
Non-stop flights: 24–26 per day, 7h 8m duration
Airlines: British AirwaysVirgin AtlanticContinental, and 2 more

They display basic information about the flights available (number per day and duration) and also link to the main airlines. Each of the links goes to the homepage of the relevant sites. The only site which had flight details already entered ready for search was Virgin Atlantic, but it had them backwards. That I assume is them using Google search referral data and not Google searches fault though!

Google is selling its new service hard at the moment. It is highlighted that you can;

  • “Get super-fast results”
  • Figure out when to travel”
  • “See a simple list of the most relevant flights”
  • Consider your destination options.”

Not anything groundbreaking really, most sites do this already I think! – I take it back, there is more to it than I can see right now! Watch the video below

In true Google fashion they have released a promo video:

OK, the video does show it off pretty well. It is better than the affiliate sites manage. The dynamic time searches make finding the cheapest flights easier. More to it than the links I just saw!

The End of the Travel Affiliate?

As we discussed back in April, this really could mark the end of the travel affiliate business. Many people have built websites and got them ranking in Google for various flight searches and holiday searches. From their landing pages they then send people to the airline websites and take a commission on any tickets that are ordered. However, it seems that Google is going to very quickly circumnavigate these results.

The Google flight result was the first on the page after the Adwords adverts. So now SEO’s have to compete not only with PPC but also Google’s own referrals.

Some affiliates I have spoken with have already seen big drops in traffic in the last year, not only as a result of the Panda algo update. The big question is, who is next? Google bought up a restaurant review site the other day – will all restaurant review sites now be demoted below Google’s own results? What about all the quality local portals out there that take pride in giving local businesses a more personal service? Are they the next to be lost to the Internet Archives?

You can learn more about it on Google’s blog. But you really should discuss it here!