Used plasma/oxy cutting machines (funny email from a friend)

Geolocation,Personal,Search by on February 3, 2007 at 3:08 pm

It’s not everyday that one of my friends sends a request like this:

I’m also trying to connect with people to buy used/refurbished plasma/oxy cutting machines for steel plates for a steel service center I am setting up. Any ideas?

He’s outside the US and will be visiting in a few months. After I stopped laughing, I tried to figure out what advice I could send him.

My first instinct was to tell him to use Google and sure enough there a ton of results (the adwords results actually look particularly promising). However, I realized that:

  • He probably already tried this
  • He’s outside the US and probably won’t see results that are as relevant as I see (US geotargeted Adwords campaigns being the default option). Even his natural search could be way different.

So, I emailed him a screenshot of my search results. Surely there has got to be a better solution.

Wow, I hit a nerve at Superpages

Search,SEO by on February 1, 2007 at 9:56 am

A fairly lengthy post by Chris Silver Smith at Superpages in response to my critical post of his ‘local SEO’ techniques.

I’ll respond to a few points he made:

First, they can limit this effect by requiring that listings in their directory might only display their legally-licensed business names. Second, if a business has legally created a name with the gobbledygook he so dislikes, what exactly do they propose to do - disallow the business from being listed under their legal name?!?

Uh, yes. Directories are for users, not businesses.

Google removes websites from their index all the time because the believe those sites degrade the quality of their user’s experience. I have no qualms in preventing “A A A A A A A A A A A A A A H Drains For Less”(yes, this is a real listing) from making it into our directory.

He also came down hard on the concept of getting a listing for each city in which your business provides service. I’d counter that if a plumber provides service in that city, he should be allowed to be listed in that directory, and I do not see that as any sort of a detractor for users. Users should be given the choice of all businesses that provide service for their area!

Yes, online directories should show all of the service providers that provide service in a particular area. However, there is no way that the user experience is improved by the plumber that makes up shell listings in each town within a 50 mile radius. The business that lists itself as ‘Newton Plumber’, ‘Wellesley Plumber’, ‘Belmont Plumber’ is spamming the directory.

‘Doorway pages’ is the term used to describe this activity online and can result in getting a website kicked out of Google’s index. These should probably be called ‘doorway listings’, and I would expect similar results in directories.

It’s doubly ironic that Dave would accuse me of causing “spamming”, since he actually has mentioned some SEO tactics that he apparently admired which are completely black-hat, and are terribly bad advice for any webmaster to pursue.

I love being quoted out of context ;). He’s referring to this post I wrote after finding bluehatseo’s site for the first time. I agree with Chris, that the techniques are terribly bad advice for legit webmasters to pursue, and I was fairly clear that the techniques weren’t appropriate in my post (I could have been more clear though and will clarify). I even joked around and suggested techniques to improve on bluehatseo’s ideas (I did the same thing for Chris’ techniques).

However, the author is a critical thinker, fairly humorous and well aware of the fact that he is operating on the black side of SEO. White hat webmasters need to know what the darker side is doing, so for example, they don’t fall into the trap of reporting the wrong site.

I was angry at Chris’ post, but not at bluehatseo? Chris works for Superpages and small businesses will listen to him. If he were at ‘yellow hat seo’ and not Superpages, I probably would have written a different post.

He apparently feels that some of these tips could result in “spamming” online directory listings. I beg to differ, of course. (Not to be too pedantic, but his use of the word, “spam”, is inaccurate because spam is the mass-mailing of unsolicited email notes of a commercial nature. My posting had nothing to do with email. Heh!)

Um, no. I think he might be joking in his comment above, but since I’m busy blockquoting and responding I’ll just include the Wikipedia link.

Chris, all of your techniques are clever. Some are amusing (in a bluehatseo kind of way). I just think you need to be more cautious about suggesting them given the company you work for. I worry that local businesses will take your advice thinking that they are operating entirely above board. And much like the taking the advice of a black hat seo they may find themselves dropped from directories.

Google needs to update Adwords Tracking

Search,SEM by on January 12, 2007 at 10:04 am

I wanted to update the tracking in our Adwords account so that it tracks the same stats as Google analytics. Even though I have everything correctly set up in Google Analytics, I still need to set up Google AdWords ‘Site Stats’. I was shocked to see that Google requires the embedding of a small ‘site stats’ banner. Seriously. I thought only crappy freeware programs did this.

My favorite part from the FAQ:

Google has chosen to use visible Google Site Stats text for the conversion tracking process to make this process apparent to users. Our goal is not to place our brand or promote our company on your web pages; however, we feel that it is important to be honest with and respect the privacy of users being tracked.

cough bullshit cough

So, you can track the movements of every visitor to a site without their knowledge using Google Analytics? But you have to use the ghetto ‘site stats’ button if you want a better integration with Adwords?

That’s what privacy policies are for.

134 Countries where you can Google but you can’t Yahoo

Analysis,Geolocation,Search by on January 3, 2007 at 8:29 am

I’ve pulled together a list of countries that Google has entered where Yahoo hasn’t. I chose those countries where Google resolves a country-specific domain in that country’s native language and Yahoo doesn’t. I also chose to limit my analysis to the countries recognized by ISO 3166 (those that IANA has established ccTLDs for).


Yes, it is far easier for Google to launch their home page in another country than for Yahoo to launch their homepage. However, making search available and customized for each country begins the long process of brand establishment. I noticed it in Peru and again in the Czech Republic – they know and love Google. They don’t know Yahoo.

Here’s a look at their addressable search markets:

Population Internet Users Internet Penetration
Yahoo and Google 4.31B 893M 21%
Google Only 1.67B 158M 9%
Neither 0.52B 19M 4%

Google reaches a population 40% larger than Yahoo’s and an Internet user base 20% larger. This Internet user base is also growing faster than Yahoo’s user base. Google’s approach bears itself out in their financials. % non-US (International) Revenue:

2005 Q3 2006
Google 39% 44%
Yahoo 30% 33%

The list of countries where you can Google but you can’t Yahoo:

Country – # Internet Users
Turkey – 16M
Poland – 11M
Pakistan – 11M
Portugal – 8M
Chile – 7M
Ukraine – 5M
Belgium – 5M
Czech Republic – 51M
South Africa – 5M
Egypt – 5M
Nigeria – 5M
Romania – 5M
Colombia – 5M
Morocco – 5M
Peru – 5M
Israel – 4M
Belarus – 4M
New Zealand – 3M
Hungary – 3M
Venezuela – 3M
Saudi Arabia – 2M
Slovakia – 2M
Bulgaria – 2M
Ireland – 2M
Serbia & Montenegro – 1.5M
Croatia – 1.5M
United Arab Emirates – 1.4M
Lithuania – 1.2M
Slovenia – 1.1M
Jamaica – 1.1M
Kenya – 1.1M
Latvia – 1M
Costa Rica – 1M
Puerto Rico – 1M
Zimbabwe – 1M
Tunisia – 1M
Dominican Republic – 0.9M
Uzbekistan – 0.9M
Bosnia-Herzegovina – 0.8M
Guatemala – 0.8M
Estonia – 0.7M
Uruguay – 0.7M
Azerbaijan – 0.7M
El Salvador – 0.6M
Jordan – 0.6M
Ecuador – 0.6M
Senegal – 0.5M
Haiti – 0.5M
Uganda – 0.5M
Bolivia – 0.5M
Moldova – 0.4M
Ghana – 0.4M
Kazakhstan – 0.4M
Luxembourg – 0.3M
Bangladesh – 0.3M
Panama – 0.3M
Kyrgystan – 0.3M
Sri Lanka – 0.3M
Mongolia – 0.3M
Iceland – 0.3M
Oman – 0.2M
Zambia – 0.2M
Honduras – 0.2M
Libya – 0.2M
Paraguay – 0.2M
Cuba – 0.2M
Mauritius – 0.2M
Georgia – 0.2M
Nepal – 0.2M
Qatar – 0.2M
Cote d’Ivoire – 0.2M
Guyana – 0.2M
Trinidad & Tobago – 0.2M
Bahrain – 0.2M
Armenia – 0.2M
Congo, Dem. Rep. – 0.1M
Nicaragua – 0.1M
Malta – 0.1M
Ethiopia – 0.1M
Bahamas – 0.1M
Guadeloupe – 0.1M
Namibia – 0.1M
Fiji – 0.1M
Botswana – 0.1M
Brunei Darussalem – 0.1M
Malawi – 0.1M
Gambia – 49K
Lesotho – 43K
Cambodia – 41K
French Guiana (FR) – 38K
Greenland – 38K
Rwanda – 38K
Congo – 36K
Guernsey & Alderney – 36K
Turkmenistan – 36K
Belize – 35K
Afganistan – 30K
Suriname – 30K
Virgin Islands (US) – 30K
Jersey – 27K
Burundi – 25K
Laos – 25K
Dominica – 201K
Antigua & Barbuda – 20K
Liechtenstein – 20K
Sao Tome & Principe – 20K
Seychelles – 20K
Grenada – 19K
Maldives – 19K
San Marino – 14K
Micronesia – 14K
Djibouti – 9K
Solomon Islands – 8K
St. Vincent & the Grenadines – 8K
Vanuatu – 8K
Gibraltar – 6K
Samoa – 6K
Tajikistan – 5K
British Virgin Islands – 4K
Cook Islands – 4K
Anguilla – 3K
Tonga – 3K
Kiribati – 2K
East Timor – 1K
Saint Helena (UK) – 1K
Norfolk Island – 0.7K
Niue – 0.5K
Nauru – 0.3K
American Samoa – –
Man, Isle of – –
Mayotte (FR) – –
Monserrat – –
Pitcairn Islands – –
Tokelau – –

A few other interesting tidbits.

  • Most interesting Google domain:
  • Domain squatters. Google owns (ukraine) and (st vincent and the grenadines), but not and Google also doesn’t own – which could be a typo for
  • Biggest countries (by Internet users) without Google: Iran (7.5M), Sudan (2,8M), Algeria (1.9M), Syria (800K)

I used internet user statistics from

As always, its easy to miss things. Please let me know if I missed something.

And a few related posts:

Google, Yahoo and IP Geolocation

Geolocation,Search,SEM,SEO by on December 29, 2006 at 2:43 am

I continue to think about the fact that Google is in the Czech market before Yahoo. I wonder how many other countries this is true for?

Fundamentally, I believe this is due to the fact that search is core for Google, but it isn’t core for Yahoo – content is. Related to the “peanut butter” problem, the barriers for localizing all of Yahoo’s content are tremendous, but it is far easier for Google to make its core search and adwords available in a new language. Just imagine trying to transalate and You’ll quickly be able to see how much harder Yahoo’s job is.

Google began licensing IP geolocation technology over 6 years ago. The most visible use of this technology is the country level redirects they do (visitors to from the Czech Republic are automatically redirected to However, the technology enables a number of other critical components of Google’s business:

  • Search anywhere. Not only can you send users to a localized version, but you can figure out where servers are hosted, helping to match users with content relevant to them and their country.
  • Adwords anywhere. You can buy keywords in any country (and in most major cities). Since Google is easily able to customize search for any country they can also sell adds in any country (payment options obviously being one of the most major hurdles)
  • Adsense anywhere. Because Google can distinguish the country of visitors (and has ad inventory), Google can accept publishers that receive traffic from anywhere. Seriously, how absurd is it that YPN is only accepting publishers that receive US traffic?

Panama is Yahoo’s first step towards utilizing IP geolocation technologies, but this is all in the Overture division. I suspect that Yahoo is far from integrating these technologies into its search core. Yahoo had better get moving – 6 years is a lot of time to make up.

Does YPN get it?

Search by on November 15, 2006 at 10:41 am

I’m at Pubcon, sitting in the contextual advertising optimization session and listening to Cody Simms, Sr Product Manager at YPN.

We’re now a good 10 mins into the YPN presentation and Cody is still telling us what contextual advertising is. This is after the slide that told us about the motivations of website operators (cliff notes: we want to make money).
This is an audience of webmasters and site operators. We know what YPN is. We just want to know how to make more money from it.

JenStar gave a good talk just before that went into some details about optimization. To have the ‘about contextual advertising’ presentation follow the ‘how to optimize’ was a little silly.

Update 1

OK, YPN gets it. Cody subsequently dug into several very meaty topics. A few of the tips that I found to be new/useful:
  • YPN uses URLs, Navigation menus, meta-description tags and of course text, to determine what a page is about.
  • Put short descriptions underneath links
  • Try to sprinkle dynamic content on your homepage. This keeps the homepage looking fresh and engages users.
  • Don’t put meta tags on your page that aren’t in your text. This looks like spam.
  • He also made an offhand remark about nav items helping YPN determine what your domain is about. This suggests that YPN trys to determine what a site is about and then makes targeting decisions based on that. I’m not sure what the impact of this is, but it certainly suggests challenges for multi-topic sites.
As it turns out, the Google presentation was worthless. It was your typical ‘look at our new products’ and ‘we promise to be more open’, but no content on improving your adsense performance.

Update 2

OK, so Yahoo was the only presenter (other than JenStar), that gave us any useful information. Google, ContextWeb & Quigo all each told us about their products and services.  That’s what the exhibit hall is for - to sell us.  The Sessions are to learn.

If you use multiple AdSense ads you must read this

Business,Search by on November 3, 2006 at 3:29 pm

The adSense blog just announced that the ads found first in your source code get the highest paying ads. The ads found last in your source code get the lowest paying ads.

While many sites may not be affected by this knowledge (the first ad is typically the best performing anyway), you should use custom channels to carefully track each placement – make sure the ads with the highest CTR appear first in the source (you can use CSS to juggle this around).

As an example, imagine a sample page that has a small ad unit in the top right of the page, and a big unit in the center of the page. The big unit likely performs best. However, the small ad unit will get the best paying ads, leaving your best placement with lower performing ads. You want to align your best performing placements with google’s best performing ads.

This is awful for several reasons:

  1. Google should be automatically doing this in the background. They are able to detect multiple ad units on a page, and they are able to determine the order with which they are called. They can also detect and calculate clicks and payouts based on the conversion of the ads that they displayed. Yeah, I know it is a extra math and extra data storage, but auto-optimizing this isn’t too hard.
  2. Google is going to train publishers to use CSS to modify the source of a page (not the presentation of the page). This is a technique commonly used in ‘grey-hat’ SEO, and Google is going to force every publisher to learn it.
  3. Best performing placement isn’t always clear when you consider that ad units may have different numbers of ads. An ad unit with 1 ad will usually have a lower CTR than an equivalently placed ad unit with 4 ads. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you want to highest paying ad in the second larger unit. Again, Google has all the data to solve this automatically and as always, experimentation is a must.

Oh well, good information to know and utilize. Once YPN truly supports multiple ad units (shows different ads on each ad unit), I would expect similar logic to apply there.

Google acquires Jotspot – It’s free now!

Business,Products,Search by on October 31, 2006 at 1:20 pm

Garret Rogers picked up that Jotspot has been acquired by Google. Also on the jotspot homepage was an announcement that the service would become free at the end of the month.

I have been a longtime fan of internal wikis in general and Jotspot in particular, having introduced its use at Judy’s Book. I was deeply disappointed with Jot’s pricing model - basically they charged based on the number of pages you had created. We were faced at having to upgrade from 300 ($30 a month) to 1000 pages ($80 a month) This resulted in perverse incentives: you wanted to consolidate / delete pages that had reduced utility. The result of this was that the wiki in general had reduced utility. I was contemplating taking our company off of Jot and moving them to our own wiki and this is welcome news.

In addition to a compelling product, Google also picks up a strong team: Joe Kraus and Graham Spencer (co-founders of Excite), and Ken Norton formerly Director of PM at Yahoo Search.

On the rumor side of the deal, rumors had swirled awhile back that Yahoo had bought Jot. Clearly this didn’t come to pass and the fit definitely feels better at Google - I am curious though what happened with Yahoo. Jot reportedly built most of their initial service using outsourced development, but this isn’t something I’ve verified - only something I heard discussed in startup circles.

I found it interesting that Jot had closed to new accounts. Whenever Google acquires a company, tens of thousands (possibly more) of Google fans go to sign up for the service. Especially when the service goes from paid to free. Most startups companies, just aren’t prepared to handle this kind of deluge (remember what happened to Urchin). In time, Google will help Jot deploy on Google infrastructure, but until then Google needs to keep the doors shut (at least partially) to avoid taking the entire system down.

Congrats to the Jot team, and to Google - it is a nice acquisition.

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