March 30, 2006

Growing Your PPC Business

So, you’re in the business of selling pay-per-click ads. You’ve already created an API for people to distribute your ads on their site in a revenue-share deal. You already have a large distribution network of partners. You already have a large market share of search traffic. You have developed countless online products to distribute more of your ads. What can you do next to capture even more traffic?

People generally look down at Adware/Spyware. They don’t like the idea of things sitting on their computer going out to the Internet and popping up ads…but what if, rather than installing software on the operating system, you bring the operating system (or their programs) to your servers?

Imagine, if you will, users log on to the Internet and access various software (such as word processors) on your servers. All of a sudden, you can monitor what individuals are doing during what is traditionally their “computer offline” time…when they are sitting at their computers but are not on the Internet. How nice would that be? I mean, even when they are online, they aren’t always on your site (although I’m sure you can figure out a way to resolve that by controlling Internet access).

Hmmmm….

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.com Domain Name Availability

There’s a writeup of an analysis of available .com domain names that reviews availability of popular domains, including those based on length of the domain and those based on popular name in the US.

…there’s a reason why you’re reading this on fano.us and not [fanous].com :-)

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March 29, 2006

Zillow Competitor: Realestateabc.com

Check out RealEstateabc.com’s home values beta tool. It’s like Zillow but slightly different:

  • uses Google Maps. They also put their data into a javascript array right on the page…easy for scrapers to get to (any interested developers out there?)
  • refreshes new pages rather than dynamically updating as Zillow does :-(
  • Allows a much better interface for you to adjust home values using slider bars for things like market conditions, interior/exterior quality, view, lot size, privacy/noise, etc.
  • an interface to include/exclude surrounding properties in the calculation of the property in question (click on a shaded icon and see a checkbox in the bubble asking if you should include it) or add it from the grid below the map
  • The default house value estimator of both was off but the Zillow one was closer. My house’s “Zestimate” used to be further off than RealEstateabc’s estimate when Zillow first launched (probably the biggest complaint I heard about them) but I can see a marked improvement

Overall, the Zillow interface is pretty and has some better functional qualities but the RealEstateabc has some nice features/additions that were missing in the Zillow product.

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AjaxSketch - draw an SVG using AJAX

From the people who brought you AJAX Write, comes AJAX Sketch.

Great for diagramming, flow charts, free hand drawing, and more. With a similar look and feel to popular drawing programs, you don’t need to learn a new interface. Based on AJAX programming techniques, it is a completely web-based program with the quick response of conventional software.

Output is in SVG format.

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Macabre MySpace.com Murderer/Deaths Tracker

Kind of macabre but someone sent me a link to MyDeathSpace.com. It catalogs people who have died or are murderers that are listed in MySpace.com.

The first listing I saw when I went to he site was for murderer #4, a boy who had killed his mother. (Yes they link to the news stories when they have them).

Clicking on the myspace profile link shows this alleged murderer’s profile (assuming it is not a fake). In it, he writes:

Heroes: my mom i love her to death she is the greatest she has always been there and ill always bethere for her all my friends think she is the coolest i love you mommy

Is this thing for real or is it a joke??? Hmmmmm.

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Google Music and Google Health next?

Google and other search engines have an advantage in knowing what people are searching for and how well it is monetized (through CPC ads, etc).

There has been talk about a Google Music service that allows you to buy and download music (similar to their Video service). The rumors seem to stem from the fact that there is a party being held by Google with 20 top Music Execs. The rumors prompted Google to reply, denying the rumor. It could be that they are “protesting too much” by replying…or it could be that they are planning something else…perhaps with Google Music Search.

How about selling tickets on there?

There have also recently been theories about a “Google Health” mostly because of key hire for “Google Health Architect.”

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SEO advice from Google Employee, Matt Cutts

Matt Cutts, a google employee who mostly deals with search engine spam, had a Q & A Session on his blog.

In it, he brought up a few interesting things. Here are some highlights:

  • The BigDaddy Update is fully deployed.
  • As part of the BigDaddy release, Googlebot will be phased out and replaced by the Mozilla Googlebot…”Googlebot/2.1 (+http://www.google.com/bot.html)” will be replaced with “Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html).” Others have noticed that the new Googlebot has crawled faster, explored areas restricted by robots.txt, and read files not read by previous bots (such as CSS and js files).
  • The BigDaddy Update means more supplemental results or on their way and new pageranks…but Matt wouldn’t say what else it would bring in coming months
  • “As Bigdaddy cools down, that frees us up to do new/other things.” in reference to the datacenter at 64.233.185.104 acting differently
  • Google crawls deeper based on pagerank and also prefer 1-2 parameters in the URL. This one is particularly interesting. Here is the full text:

    Q: “My sitemap has about 1350 urls in it. . . . . its been around for 2+ years, but I cannot seem to get all the pages indexed. Am I missing something here?�
    A: One of the classic crawling strategies that Google has used is the amount of PageRank on your pages. So just because your site has been around for a couple years (or that you submit a sitemap), that doesn’t mean that we’ll automatically crawl every page on your site. In general, getting good quality links would probably help us know to crawl your site more deeply. You might also want to look at the remaining unindexed urls; do they have a ton of parameters (we typically prefer urls with 1-2 parameters)? Is there a robots.txt? Is it possible to reach the unindexed urls easily by following static text links (no Flash, JavaScript, AJAX, cookies, frames, etc. in the way)? That’s what I would recommend looking at.

  • for those trying to get into Google’s head and guessing on new features: “Any time you’re considering a new feature (e.g. our numrange search), you have to trade off how much the index would get bigger versus the utility of the feature.” I can sure relate to that! :-)
  • “[I]f you sell links, you should mark them with the nofollow tag. Not doing so can affect your reputation in Google.”
  • on the topic of international audiences or those trying to target multi-national audiences: “If you’ve only got a small number of pages, I might start out with subdomains, e.g. de.mydomain.eu or de.mydomain.com. Once you develop a substantial presence or number of pages in each language, that’s where it often makes sense to start developing separate domains.” Does this imply that ccTLDs rank highest in country-specific searches, with subdomains a second and everything else afterward? no big surprise here.
  • you can search by daterange using an undocumented syntax. (not mentioned: there is a UI change, triggered by certain keywords)
  • Google might be considering figuring out a way to deal with directories and shopping comparison sites since some see them as spam (maybe is the operative word here…nothing explicit says so in Matt’s post). I only bring this up because Matt mentions he’s heard it before and people think of spam as anything that increases noise according to him
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March 28, 2006

Google Base Results Creating Many Verticals

Google Base is a great way for Google to get structured data to automatically create vertical searches.

They said as much.

Some of the words which trigger vertical-specific searches are:

Most likely we’ll see more of these Google Base labels (i.e. coupons, locations that may be somehow integrated with Google Local, podcasts which could be integrated with people profiles and/or blogs to create social networking forums or a singular way to look up lots of information about someone or their blog, etc).

These labels each have their own attributes. For illustration purposes, consider this: housing is a label and its attributes could be “for sale” versus “for rent”, price, location, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, and property type (condo, apartment, waterfront, etc). So someone would enter their property into Google Base, labeling it as property, then setting its attributes (it is located in Los Angeles, has 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, etc).

For those familiar with structured data, you can see how this is shaping up. This sounds very much like a fairly generic taxonomy. It is, in other words, a way for Google to bulk up a lot of vertical data (which is more powerful when it is structured so you can sort and filter on the different fields) without a whole lot of effort or cost…you users are your editorial staff. You simply give them the means to enter and classify the data.

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March 27, 2006

More on Advertising on a Google Map

I had mentioned how Google had been testing local advertisers on a google map and how others were using the satellite pictures to get their ads onto the maps as well.

Well, there’s something on a grander scale

From Boakes.org: “The sheer size of the publicity stunt is difficult to comprehend. It covers 893240 square metres; roughly equivalent to eighty football pitches. The ad, which depicts Apple’s flagship iPod product has been constructed on the site of an abandoned mineral mine in remote western Australia. It has been in development for almost two years.”

ipod on a google map

Try zooming in and out to get a sense of its scale.

…and for those who haven’t heard yet, Google is adding company icons to place ads on the maps instead of the blue markers they were originally using in the test.

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March 22, 2006

Where 2.0 registration

Just got a reminder from O’Reilly that Where 2.0 2006 is happening on June 13-14 at the Fairmont Hotel San Jose. Registration is open and, if you register by May 1, you save $400.

The tagline is for the conference is: “The Future of Mapping and Local Search”

Everything Happens Somewhere. The Where 2.0 Conference brings together the people, projects, and issues leading the charge into the location based technological frontier. Join us to debate and discuss what’s viable now, and what’s lurking just below the radar. There’s no better place to meet the people behind the mash-ups and platforms, and the folks looking ahead to the future of geospace.

Who and what will be featured at Where 2.0? Amazing location systems, untapped geodata, unsung projects and hardware, people who are poised to make real money–and why. High profile keynote conversations with big players, “high order bitsâ€? demoing cool startups and neat applications. We’re angling for shorter talks with longer breaks so you’ll have more time for one-on-one interactions.

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