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Posts Tagged ‘google’

Over the past several months, social media observers, myself included, have documented how the once-upstart Facebook has taken on search-and-everything-interactive giant Google, and basically whipped their butts in those categories that seem to matter most to Facebook.

For instance, Facebook has become a major factor in “search” based on the premise that the recommendations by your friends are deemed more valuable in certain instances (“recommend a plumber” or “ideas for a summer vacation”) than Google’s algorithmic based search. Google hasn’t helped themselves  with “counter attacks” such as Google Buzz that haven’t even provided a speed hump in Facebook’s drive to control all social aspects of the web.

Now Facebook has set its sights (there’s a pun in here somewhere) on the location-based services led by Foursquare, Gowalla and BrightKite. It’s certainly the right cyber real estate, as the combination of location-based apps and mobile are predicted to be one of the very hottest marketing topics over the next 18 months.

Mashable’s Jolie O’Dell, commenting on an Advertising Age report, correctly surmises that Facebook’s “…userbase and mainstream adoption to bring location-sharing tools to a huge audience, excluding these newer competitors from the market.”

According to Ad Age, Facebook will roll out location status updates in late May. Marketers will join the party shortly thereafter. McDonald’s is reported to be one of the early players.

This is not about Facebook attempting to put Foursquare, Gowalla and BrightKite out of business, although it may have those consequences. This is really about advertising revenue and Facebook once again trumping Google.

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If you’ve read earlier posts on this blog, you know that I’m not a huge fan of Google Buzz. I really, really like Google, and their search engine is fantastic, but I never “got” Google Buzz. I think it’s because I’m not a big GMail user. Since Buzz is based off the GMail platform, your Buzz contacts are in your GMail address book.

I have six email accounts. GMail is the least used – and I have a whopping 17 contacts in my GMail address book. So, I’m not a great targeted user for Buzz.

Regardless of my personal thoughts about Buzz, I’ve noticed that the crescendo of applause that accompanied the launch of Google Buzz, lead by the guys at Mashable, seems to have become a whisper. This is exacerbated by the negative press that Buzz seems to attract, er, like a bee to honey.

Wendy Davis, writing in the Daily Online Examiner, reported today that regulators from 10 countries have complained that Google “betrayed a disappointing disregard for fundamental privacy norms” with the launch of Buzz. This was stated in a letter sent to Google by authorities from Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain and the United Kingdom.

As quoted in the Daily Online Examiner, the letter states: “The privacy problems associated with your initial global rollout of Google Buzz on February 9, 2010 were serious and ought to have been readily apparent to you. In essence, you took Google Mail (Gmail), a private, one-to-one web-based email service, and converted it into a social networking service, raising concern among users that their personal information was being disclosed.”

You may recall that at launch, Buzz’s default settings disclosed the names of any Buzz user’s email contacts. Google soon changed the default settings to correct this and issued an apology.

As long as they have Google’s attention, the privacy police from the 10 countries also expressed their displeasure with Google’s Street View, claiming that it also violates the privacy threshold. Freedom of speech issues in the US negate most of this argument regarding Street View.

Oh, and Facebook. looks like you’re next up on the regulators’ agenda.

Beside the legal whoop-de-doo, Google should be more concerned that Buzz seems to have lost its own buzz. Am I wrong, or has it just not gained traction as a major social media app?

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Facebook just keeps on growin’!

Recently released comScore tracking data shows that 5.5% of all time spent surfing the internet by US residents in November ’09 is spent on Facebook. That’s HUGE! It also doubles the amount of time users spent on Facebook just a year ago. This surpasses time spent on YouTube, Google or other popular sites.

The same data also reports that Facebook has surpassed 100 million US users in November. That ranks it as the #4 site in terms of users.

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During this past summer’s beach vacation, I read an article in Wired that postulated that Facebook could possibly overtake Google as “King of Search” based on the simple premise that you trust the advice of your friends more than you do an impersonal mathematical formula (aka Google’s algorithm). Let’s say that you’re looking for a dentist. Would you give more credibility to the suggestion of a friend that you knew and trusted or a first-page search result on Google?

I’ve thought about that a lot in the intervening months – but, obviously not as much as Google has!  Google’s announcement last week that they have universally initiated “personal search” says two things to me. First, they are not about to surrender any possible search function to Facebook, or, that “upstart,” Twitter. Secondly, they buy into the concept that your past actions are a great predictor of what you are searching for.

The ultimate battle for search supremacy may come down to your past actions (Google) vs. your friend’s recommendations (Facebook).

Google states that “personalized search” is their differentiator. Before “personalized search,” each person searching on identical key words would get the same results. If you and I both searched on “Penelope Cruz,” we’d get identical search results. No more! Now, everyone gets personalized search results each and every time. (The fact that probably 95% of Google’s “searchers” are unaware of this is a whole different issue! Their “notification” consisted of a blog post.)

Penelope Cruz

Using the example above, if Google recognized that I often read People Magazine online (which I don’t!), then it would list the Penelope Cruz articles that have appeared in People first on my custom search result page.

However, if you have also searched on the films of Pedro Almodovar, but don’t read People, your “Penelope Cruz” search would most likely return those articles on Ms. Cruz that associate her with Almodovar first on your search results.

How does Google do this? It “remembers” everything that you have searched on over the past 180 days through a hidden cookie in your Google browser. Google thinks that they are doing me a favor, by cutting through the clutter and giving me results that my past actions indicate might be more valuable to me.

Maybe that’s good. But in the back of my mind, I am reminded of that every time I go to Amazon.com, they remember that I bought a Wiggles DVD for a friend’s toddler’s birthday a couple of years ago. Each time I go to Amazon.com, they keep informing me of new Wiggle’s CDs, games and videos and relentlessly ask me if I would like another, please?

Google’s cookie will remember each and every search for the past six months, with no chance of the searcher being able to say, “don’t count that one!”  What does this do to those of us who search for something one time because we are writing an article, doing research, or, those students searching for all kinds of stuff for a particular class, and those searches are not germane to their normal lifestyle? Those innocuous searches will skew the search results of that searcher for the next six months.

Here’s an example: What if you have a friend who loves Korean BBQ coming for a visit? You hate Korean BBQ, but as a gesture of friendship, decide to search on “korean bbq restaurants” so that you can suggest one to your friend. The next time you search for “restaurants,” you may wonder why Google lists Korean BBQ places at the top of your search list. Your past search activity has influenced your current search results. This whole concept has the propensity to drive SEO practitioners nuts!

Another example of how this could impact your looking for a new job is covered in this excellent blog post.

Maybe Google thinks that they are doing me a favor, but knowing some of the weird things that I have been known to search for, I could be in for an interesting ride!

What about you? What funky searches have you done recently that you think will skew your Google personalized search results?

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It wasn’t that long ago that looking yourself up online by entering your name in a Google search was considered an act of vanity in some circles. In today’s business environment (and in your personal world) Googling you is not only necessary, it may be critical.

Why? Because the very essence of the internet is user-created content. Anybody can post just about anything online with little, if any, repercussion. It doesn’t have to be factual, it doesn’t have to be true, it doesn’t have to be real or even exist, but it can be posted online. Any standard of presumed privacy or exhibit of good manners has gone right out the window. Don’t believe it? Just ask Erin Andrews, the ESPN reporter who was the very unfortunate victim of the posting of a surreptitiously taken video of her on the internet. (Andrews and ESPN are going to great lengths to track the perpetrator down and take action.)

That’s why you should Google yourself. You have no idea what negative or untrue information may be floating around in cyberspace that you are not aware of.

Recently, we were in discussion with a medical doctor who was thinking of launching a consumer product under her name. She wanted to create a personal brand. One of the first things that we did when we returned to the office from our initial meeting was to Google her. We found 22 online references, including a lengthy list of comments on a web site that specializes in “rating” doctors and dentists. Of the 22 “ratings,” 13 were negative, 4 were neutral and 5 were “good” or “excellent.” Reading deep into the comments on this site, we found out that the issues that the patients had were not with the doc, but were mostly with her receptionist, who seemed to have an attitude problem. Once identified, the problem was addressed, and hopefully fixed, but those negative comments will remain on that site, potentially, forever.

A few months ago, I was walking my dog through my neighborhood and was surprised to see a giant banner hanging on a house stating that a particular homebuilder built the house. The banner also stated that the homeowner thought that the builder did shoddy work. In big, bold 6” letters at the bottom of the banner was a URL to a web site. As soon as I got home, I jumped on the site and found a rant about the builder’s work, complete with several photos. Unfortunately for this homebuilder, this was the only Google search result for his name. The banner was removed from the house months ago, but the web site will remain up until the URL expires or the owner takes it down. Anyone who Googles this homebuilder will see this site and it’s rant at the top of the first page of search results. Maybe he’s a good homebuilder and this was an unfortunate incident. Or, maybe he’s just a shoddy homebuilder – at least that’s his online reputation.

So, what if you Google yourself and find negative or untrue information? What do you do? You can’t make the “internet” take it down (unless you want to finance a couple of years of private school for your lawyer’s kids).

Everyone understands that each of us probably has some person out there that doesn’t like us, or feels wronged by something we did, perhaps long ago. The point is, you can’t keep those people from flaming you on the internet.

What you can do is make sure that there is lots of positive information on the internet about you. Lots of positives go a long way to offset one (or maybe two) negatives. And, you can do this without too much effort and at virtually no expense.

Start with a Google Profile (www.google.com/profiles). You should be able to complete the info and add a photo in less than 15 minutes. Since most of search is done via Google, and Google Profiles just seem to have  high, usually first page, search results return, you can have some positive info on the first page of your Google search results.

Next, create a LinkedIn Profile (www.linkedIn.com). If you already have one, make sure that you add lots of information, and most importantly, get recommendations. LinkedIn is an online resume’ – complete with recommendations for all to see, and it usually turns up on the first page of Google’s search results. Six to ten positive recommendations say a lot about you.

Then, a Facebook page. Make sure to include lots of info and pictures that portray you as a good guy. Resist the urge to post “party pictures,” and if you have them on there, remove them now!

You may merit a Wikipedia entry, if so, create one.

It is a fact of both business and personal life that everyone is Googling you – potential customers, employers, employees, dates, new friends. You name it; they want to know about you!

Spend a little time and make sure that you know what is floating around on the internet about you. Take some effort to make sure that you have a positive message and image in cyberspace. It will pay off in ways that you will probably never even know about!

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The tragic and unfortunate death of Michael Jackson had an unintended by product – it pointed out shortcomings in the internet infrastructure. As one person remarked, “Michael Jackson died and almost took the internet with him.”

The impact was felt from news and gossip web sites to social networking sites as Jackson fans and admirers used their Facebook and Twitter accounts to express shock and grief.

According to Keynote Systems, performance problems plagued the web. Keynote stated that its monitoring of ABC, AOL, CBS, MSNBC, NBC, SF Chronicle, and Yahoo! News (sites that compose its Performance Index) showed that download speeds jumped from an average of less four seconds to more than nine seconds beginning at 5:30pm Eastern / 2:30pm Pacific on the day of Jackson’s death, as word began to spread of the situation. Jackson was pronounced dead at 5:36pm Eastern / 2:26pm Pacific time. At the same time, site availability dropped from 100% to 86%. Normality returned by 9:15pm EDT the same day.

On Friday (June 26, 2009) Keynote stated that it erred in proclaiming that ABC News’ site had dropped to 11% capacity the evening before. Actually, ABC was delivering download speeds near normal. CNN.com and CBS News reported five times the normal traffic to their sites. Google News saw a four times increase in traffic during the period.

Celebrity news site TMZ (owned by AOL) broke the story and suffered from it and crashed under the weight of traffic several times during the next few hours. Celebrity gossiper Perez Hilton’s site also suffered outages as fans chased the early news of Jackson’s condition. The LA Times site suffered the same fate as web visitors flocked there as they were reporting that Jackson was in a coma and not dead. Google News searchers saw spotty service for search queries on “Michael Jackson.”

Collaborative information site Wikipedia saw more than 500 edits to the Michael Jackson bio page. AOL’s AIM instant messaging service was down for about 40 minutes.

Among the social networks, Twitter was overwhelmed. It has a habit of turning off features in order to keep from crashing, and it used that strategy to effect by turning of both “Search” and “Trending Topics” for about four hours after the first flurry of “OMG…” Tweets. Ethan Zuckerman, a fellow at Harvard’s Beckman Center for the Internet and Society, Tweeted that 15% of all Twitter traffic mentioned Michael Jackson – a level never before recorded. The previous highs were 5% for “Iran” and “swine flu.” A Facebook page titled “Michael Jackson Dead” was up within two hours of his death and soon garnered 1200 fans posting tributes.

Tech Crunch reported: “Search Engine Journal examined how the major search engines fared in updating their indices to help guide searchers to the most relevant news. The verdict? ‘Is Google Search lagging in breaking news coverage? Indeed it is,’ writes Loren Baker. ‘Microsoft BING however, has ABSOLUTELY FAILED in their coverage of the passing of Michael.’”

Michael Jackson’s death, while tragic, will most likely be the measurement benchmark for internet and social media activity, at least for the near future.

There are those who are already espousing that this shows the vulnerability of the internet as currently configured and that the time for cloud computing has arrived. Since I’m blogging this from my family vacation home at St. George Island, FL, I’ll drink a couple of mojitos and ponder that.

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