Google's Competitive Advantages

Apr 6th

Recently I was over at Topix.net and glanced at their blog and found a great post about Google by their founder Rich Skrenta which highlights Google's competitive advantages.

...the story is about seemingly incremental features that are actually massively expensive for others to match, and the platform that Google is building which makes it cheaper and easier for them to develop and run web-scale applications than anyone else...While competitors are targeting the individual applications Google has deployed, Google is building a massive, general purpose computing platform for web-scale programming.

I also just finished reading Emergence by Steven Berlin Johnson where he reviews some emergent software and social networks such as Slashdot.

While at Slashdot I noticed they too were eating up Rich's post, as the blog community at large is (last I checked MIT's Blogdex it was the most rapidly spreading idea on the web).

After reading Emergence it became more apparent how smart the Topix news idea is. After reading his post it became even more apparent how smart Rich is. I am just wondering how they will be able to take news market share from the big search monsters. Obviously doing news way better works, but even Rich's own post state how amazingling cheap CPU cycles are at Google. How will Topix overcome Google's competitive advantages?

Google PageRank vs Yahoo! Webrank

This entry was inspired by a recent article from Danny Sullivan.

Lots O good Google PageRank info below. Still not much out on Yahoo Webrank though... What is Google PageRank?
Google PageRank is a mathematical approximation that a random web surfer would cross any given page prior to starting to surf over again. It is a measure of link popularity on a 1 - 10 logarithmic scale. One powerful link from a strong site is worth way more than many links from small sites.

How do I check PageRank?

How do I check my Competitors PageRank?

  • The same way you would check your own. OR

  • There are automated tools which process portions of the web to help you find link partners quicker. Here are two interesting tools:
    • SEO Guy has a tool which allows you to set PageRank levels and perform a search for any given term. It will return a list of top ranking websites which have a PageRank equal to or greater than the # you requested.

    • For deeper link analysis, OptiLink link analysis software - orders the backlinks of your competitors in order of PageRank so you can Quickly view his most important backlinks (in the eyes of Google).

More on PageRank
PageRank is only one aspect of website promotion. It does play a huge role in the current Google ranking system, but there are many other factors. Generally some sites could really do well by making sure their site is well integrated into their local community and then buying a link or two to suppliment their rankings.

The web does self organize into micro communities and PageRank does not take that into account as well as search engines such as Teoma do (see also: Teoma review).

Buying PageRank
It is probably worth it for many sites to buy 1 or 2 PR7 or so links. I have been able to locate them for under $100 a month and sometimes cheaper than $50...a few times even free. I have seen run of the site PR7 links around $200 per month.

There are many many reseller networks of people selling PageRank. You want to make sure you are as close to the source as possible when buying links. IE: you may want to buy off a website, a link broker, or link brokers friend, but you start to run into heavy inflation when you buy links off a link broker from a different link broker from a link broker...

The prices of the links are spread extremely wide. There are many important factors such as

  • How well the webmaster knows what their links are worth.

  • The PageRank of the page.
  • The number of links on the page.
  • How well that page fits the theme of your site.
  • The direct traffic that link will bring.
  • The length of the contract.
  • Sometimes you can get discounts for quantity buys.

On my other site I have listed more PageRank resources and more in depth Google PageRank coverage.

Yahoo! Webrank
As you can see there is a ton of info out there on PageRank. Since Yahoo! Webrank is new and expiremental there is no solid data out there on it.

They are currently testing Yahoo! Webrank in a beta test which is closed. In Danny Sullivan's article he pointed me to a backdoor link he found in Webmaster World which will allow you to download the toolbar that will show the Yahoo! Webrank. In addition Digital Point has a Yahoo! Webrank tool which sometimes provides sporadic or random results. Its inaccuracies may actually be due to the fact that Yahoo! Webrank is still in a beta test.

Google Mail (Google Email)

Apr 1st

Portal Off the Starboar Brow!
Google Mail.Google has done the expected. Many think they are going the way of portal, and well today they have introduced Gmail. Google Mail is a free 1 Gig email account which is supported by contextual advertising.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. - April 1, 2004 UTC - Amidst rampant media speculation, Google Inc. today announced it is testing a preview release of Gmail – a free search-based webmail service with a storage capacity of up to eight billion bits of information, the equivalent of 500,000 pages of email. Per user.

The inspiration for Gmail came from a Google user complaining about the poor quality of existing email services, recalled Larry Page, Google co-founder and president, Products. "She kvetched about spending all her time filing messages or trying to find them," Page said. "And when she's not doing that, she has to delete email like crazy to stay under the obligatory four megabyte limit. So she asked, 'Can't you people fix this?'"

The idea that there could be a better way to handle email caught the attention of a Google engineer who thought it might be a good "20 percent time" project. (Google requires engineers to spend a day a week on projects that interest them, unrelated to their day jobs). Millions of M&Ms later, Gmail was born.

"If a Google user has a problem with email, well, so do we," said Google co-founder and president of technology, Sergey Brin. "And while developing Gmail was a bit more complicated than we anticipated, we're pleased to be able to offer it to the user who asked for it."

Some of the benefits of the new Google mail

  • Search: Built on Google search technology, Gmail enables people to quickly search every email they've ever sent or received. Using keywords or advanced search features, Gmail users can find what they need, when they need it.

  • Storage: Google believes people should be able to hold onto their mail forever. That's why Gmail comes with 1,000 megabytes (1 gigabyte) of free storage – more than 100 times what most other free webmail services offer.
  • Speed: Gmail makes using email faster and more efficient by eliminating the need to file messages into folders, and by automatically organizing individual emails into meaningful "conversations" that show messages in the context of all the replies sent in response to them. And it turns annoying spam e-mail messages into the equivalent of canned meat.

Official Google Mail Press Release I stole all this post from!

Sign up for Google Mail!
It's still in beta testing, but you can give them your current email to sign up for more information on Google Mail here http://gmail.google.com

Google New Look Search Results

Mar 29th

After months of testing (and me thinking I was part of another test) Google has unveiled its new look search. The new Google is a less cluttered, more crisp looking search result page. In addition the Google home page has lost its tabs and now just has small words above the search box. The Google Directory no longer is listed on the home page and the Google Directory category listings are no longer appearing in the search results. Google appears to be distancing itself from the Open Directory Project.

Froogle has been added to the home page as well as the SERP pages. To list your products in Froogle for free be sure to fill out your Froogle Feed. Froogle also has a "recent items found" list underneath it's search box.

Google Groups are also showing the new AdWords format.

View the new look Google SERP.

People have been discussing the new look Google at WMW.

One major change which will go highly unnoticed by most people is that there is no longer an interest bar to show relative click through rates between different ads participating in the Google AdWords program.

The single biggest difference with the new Google search is that the ads tend to blend seamlessly into the content. Google is perhaps doing this to fight the potential text ad burnout that we may face in the near future if all text ads look extremely similar.

Link Building Tips for Advanced Google Search Engine Placement

Mar 17th

Part of the time consuming process of the link building process is that we can spend 10 minutes just looking for a site that links to our competitor that could link to us. There are techniques to speed up this link hunt. These link building tips can allow you to get the most powerful links with the least amount of effort.

  • after you search Google place &num=100 at the end of the address bar. This will show 100 results per page. Since Google clusters search results by site this will make scanning the link list rather easy.

  • Boolean search operators are link builders friends. Searching for links using link:blasite.com might work, but you also can find the links which have certain text in them. For example, a search for a common authority in your field of study AND "optimized link text." This will show you where most of the topical hubs for your field are. You can also search for different optimized phrases in the same field. This will show you where lots of the quick and easy links are.
  • You can take link building one step further by also clasifying the TLD domain type or page title. For example the following search would give you educational institutions which link to Search Engine Watch with the phrase "search engine watch or searchenginewatch" in the text and resources links or partners or engines in the page title.

    inurl:+".edu" AND (intitle:links OR intitle:partners OR intitle: resources Or intitle:engines) AND ("searchenginewatch" OR "search engine watch")

  • You can also search for links by keywords and specify differnt filepaths or page elements. For example, you can find out which .htm or .html filepath extension pages have the words "search engine marketing" in a the page copy which also have "link partners" in the page title by using the following search: "search engine marketing" intitle:"link partners" (*.htm OR *.html)
  • A site keeps screwing up my link building. If there is a specific site which is still overcrowding the search results even after you do all the above you can filter is out. Place -site:your-link-blocker.com at the end of your search query.

Using the above ideas in a creative way can allow a person with no automated software, no money, and a good idea worth spreading to quickly dominate search results. You are now an advanced Google link building stud :)

Google Update Brandy

Feb 17th

Drinking Brandy Slows Down Response Time: So I am slow to get the "official" name of the last Google Update. It is Update Brandy, I thought it was Jason or Zorlax or something.

In this WMW thread Google Guy talks about semantics, SEO, & overoptimization.
(found on Search Engine Blog)

If we dig deeper into the Google Update Brandy thread we enjoy a great laugh. Read what MakeMeTop post, and then read the reply.

New Google Algorthim Update

Feb 11th

It appears Google has gone far beyond stemming with their current algorithm update. They seem to be looking for semantic intent of the query as well as the page, and then returning a result based upon it. The resulting pages frequently may not even have the query on the page.

(original discussion in HighRankings Forums) Many local sites from Florida to Austin to NYC have taken a beating by the recent Google algorithm updates (Florida and Austin.) Is it any wonder they named these recent Google algorithm updates after locations?

Google still have some things to work out with the new algorithm though, as many search results are still a wee bit funky. If the relevancy only drops on commercial searches that is not so bad in the eyes of Google since other products such as Froogle will help in this area. Perhaps semantics are the way to separate the white pages from the yellow pages!

Google Update Austin, Google Update Florida

Jan 30th

As I type this I wonder if a portion of Google's continual change is to help it garner continual press coverage...just a thought.

I wrote an article about Google Update Austin which talks about how it is somewhat similar to Google Update Florida, and some of the things you can do to improve your rankings.

Here also is a quick Google Update Austin rundown from WebProNews. Of course I am evil and do not agree with all of it, but it was interesting stuff.

Google AdWords Dynamic Keyword Insertion

Just another tip on improving conversion rates with Google AdWords. When search words appear in a Google ad they are bolded. A good way to improve click through rate (and thus lower price per click) is to place keywords in the ad.

Sometimes it may not be practical to create 100 different ads and 100 different groupings. If you have similar terms which can use the same creative description, but you would like to have the title dynamically match searched keywords you can.

The syntaxt for Google AdWords Dynamic Keyword Insertion is {keyword: }

When you create the AdWords creative place {keyword: } in the first line and then fill out the rest of the creative like normal. Automatically your title will match the search terms which will improve click through rates. Please note that Google does not want this feature used on search terms which are mis spelled or otherwise break their ad policies.

When you use {keyword: } make sure you place a keyword after it so that search terms which may be too long or are not processed correctly still have an ad to show. I know this because I had one of my Google AdWords ads disapproved for not doing this. For me I would probably use something like {keyword:SEO Book}.

Some people will want to try this with a huge catalog of products and will lose money in the process. When products are widely varying you want to send the person to the specific page for that product so you must specify that as well.

This technique is likely to be most profitable to those who use it on smaller niche specific areas...the whole thing that makes Google so appealing is that you can customize every aspect of your ad and track every cent spent from begining to end.

Dynamic keyword insertion capitalization:
{keyword:} will make the title small
{KeyWord:} will capitalize all the words in the Google AdWords ad title.

Google To Go Public in April

Jan 6th

Bloomburg announced that Google is to go public in April at a value of $12 Billion. The company is expected to raise as much as $4 Billion by selling 1/3 of the company. The Wall Street Journal said that Yahoo! is to dump Google in the comming months, possibly as early as the first quarter.

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