Friday, September 02, 2005

Yahoo Attempts To Increase User Base

A few days ago I noticed that the Yahoo home page had changed:
Yahoo - Make Yahoo Your Home Page

If you notice, suddenly there's a "Start on Yahoo" link to the left of their logo. Put this in combination with the news about the Yahoo Instant Messenger "upgrade" which takes a page straight out of the spyware creators, and forces the installation of the Yahoo search bar, changes the default search and home page, and scans your IM chat sessions and create links to Yahoo search results, definitions or translation tools.

Combine this with a recent report that Yahoo's marketshare has crept up on Google, and the news of Google's recent efforts to keep visitors - through Google Talk and Google Desktop 2.0, for example - it all points to an effort to boost the almighty YHOO, but at what price?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Google Talk Takes Swipe at Skype

With the launch of Google Talk, Google has simultaneously jumped into the instant messaging and VOIP marketplace.

With a slick, simple signature Google style interface - it is a nice-looking, unobtrusive piece of software. It even includes the GMail notifier, which means that you aren't adding another program to your start-up list so much as switching one for another.

The one feature I can't test is the VOIP features - my main PC is a laptop, and I don't have, nor do I want any additional wires and gadgets hanging off of it.

I am not sure how they plan to monetize the chat / talk features, though the chat account is based on a GMail account, and of course, GMail users are show contextual advertising.

I think this is more about eyeballs and users. Nothing could be more annoying than Yahoo's IM client, which puts itself in the foreground every ten minutes, followed by the MSN instant messenger's irritating advertising banners - all reasons why I have been using Trillian for 3 years. Trillian allows you to have AIM, IRC, ICQ, Yahoo and MSN (and multiple accounts open simultaneously) all under one chat client. It also offers chat logging and other features that make it a great instant messaging client - and there are no ads, and there's a full-featured free version.

Google Talk is a nice addition, but I think it's going to take several months, if not years to build up the user base and "brand loyalty" that AOl, MSN and Y! have been accruing for 6 years or longer.

By the way, sorry about the 1940's-esque headline - I could not resist ;)

Monday, August 22, 2005

Google Sidebar Desktop Search

Google has rethought their desktop search tool and attempted to create an all-around useful tool, called Google Sidebar.

The new Sidebar integrates a RSS reader, new mail notifier (works with Gmail and Outlook), custom weather, custom news headlines, custom stocks, image search, and Quick view - a list of frequently viewed documents and files, and, perhaps, the handiest feature - a little scratch pad to jot down notes - how many times have I opened notepad from the command line to do just that? - all presented in "skyscraper" format. In addition, Google has put out an API kit that will enable developers to create their own plug-in modules that can be added to Sidebar.

All in all, the new Sidebar desktop search tool looks pretty good. I am going to have to pass though - I had an issue with Google's desktop search tool permanently archiving all my old spam emails, which made my email search useless - and was the primary reason for using desktop search. Google didn't have a way to undo it - even the Google reps at Pubcon were stumped. Also there were some issues with CPU consumption - the Google desktop search put my laptop into overdrive during idle times.

I finally had to switch over to MSN's Search Tool, which allowed me to remove the spam email folder from being indexed, and seems to be a little gentler on my laptop's CPU.

If you haven't tried installing desktop search yet, I would highly recommend it - it's amazing how much more productive it makes me. For now, I am going to stick with the MSN product - even with all the new features, I just don't see the need to switch.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Google Update Cutts

Google Update CuttsGoogle definitely seems to be shuffling out a new index, and some of the changes seen in Google Update Bourbon seem to have been rolled back.

The main thing I've noticed so far is that one of my sites that has had a double listing for years, and lost it in Bourbon has suddenly shown up in its serps with a double listing again.

Since this is the 3rd Google update of 2005, (the previous two were called Allegra and Bourbon), I am jokingly referring to this as Google Update "Cutts" in honor of the fact that this update rolled out in time to allow the Matt Cutts Blog to break out of the "sandbox" and start ranking.

Naughty, naughty Matt - rolling out an update just so that your own blog can start ranking.... I can only blame DaveN for this. How quickly people turn to the dark side once their own site is at stake. ;)

Monday, August 15, 2005

Yahoo's 20 Billion Web Doc Index Kerfuffle

Yahoo's Index Calculations Attract Suspicions.
Recently Yahoo announced that their index now contained over 20 billion "web objects", specifically 19.2 billion web documents, 1.6 billion images, and over 50 million audio and video files.

At first this number was blithely accepted, but within hours, the impact began to sink in... 20 billion is a lot, and far outstrips Google's current claim of 8,168,684,336 web pages. Google pushed past the 8 billion mark last November in a flurry of spidering that everyone noticed.

No one has been posting about Yahoo's slurp hammering servers. In fact, to my irritation - I noticed that Yahoo has been spidering and caching my sites' CSS files. What the heck is that about? How is the spidering/caching a CSS file useful for the average user? Should I start optimizing so I can rank for p{font-size: 12px;}?

Why do I have to waste my time changing my robots.txt files just for this stupidity from Yahoo anyhow?

Anyhow, soon Google co-founder Sergey Brin weighed in to GOOG share holders (well, actually at the New York Times), stating:

"The comprehensiveness of any search engine should be measured by real Web pages that can be returned in response to real search queries and verified to be unique, we report the total index size of Google based on this approach."

The article continues by citing a survey done on Sunday by the National Center for Supercomputer Applications, which found that Google returned an average of 166% more results over Yahoo in a random survey of over 10,000 search terms. The survey also found that Yahoo only beat Google's raw overall results numbers in 3% of the searches.

Where's the proof Yahoo? Can they be counting duplicate content, CSS files, RSS feeds in multiple formats and all the other dregs of information that make up the human useless "better that it stays invisible" web? All I can say I that I have a couple sites that have yet to be deep crawled by my friend Slurp, yet G and MSN's indexing count is in the thousands for these same sites.

Sorry Y!, just because a deep crawl is on your "to-do list" doesn't mean your url crawl list should count towards the index numbers.