How many people want to crack passwords?

Security,SEM by on November 22, 2006 at 12:31 am
There were two unrelated things today that prompted this post:
  1. Firefox 2.0 Password Manager Exploit
  2. A great post on how to recover forgotten (but still stored) passwords.
Firefox Password Exploit

As I understand the poorly written vulnerability summary: you can have all of your passwords stolen if you visit a trusted site (trusted = you have a password saved there). This can be done without your knowledge. The places to be cautious are forums, blogs, myspace, etc. where users can affect the web page.

Recovering Lost Passwords:

Last time my dad forgot his Comcast email password, the Comcast rep convinced him that he needed a new account. They did re-setup Outlook Express for him, but in doing so they deleted his email store.

The tool, Cain and Abel, is a fairly sophisticated program that can help dig passwords (and plenty of other things) out of network traffic. It is worth noting that it only works with Ethernet adapters (no wireless), so you’ll need to convince Dad to plug in to make any use of this. I found it very easy to set up and run and was able to test sniff an FTP password in under five minutes.

And how many people are searching for ways to steal passwords?

I frequently test search volume for keywords when I stumble upon something that I hadn’t thought about in the context of SEO. I find it gives me a good perspective about the general interest level in the topic. Check out the keyword discovery stats for the top 20 ‘password’ terms:

Keyword Discovery Screenshot

To put this in perspective, the same number of people that searched for “password crackers” also searched for “hp computer”. It’s a hostile world beyond the firewall…

Yahoo’s ad technology is so far behind Google’s

Business,SEM by on November 19, 2006 at 10:27 pm

It has been a while since I’ve dug into PPC campaigns. I continue to be amazed by how far behind Yahoo actually is. Yahoo’s upcoming Panama launch (it isn’t GA yet), will really just bring Yahoo’s technology to a point where it is equivalent to Google’s circa 2002 (ok, maybe 2003).

Panama features that will help Yahoo catch up:

  • CPC*CTR ranking
  • Geotargeting (about time)
  • Immediate Ad activation
  • Automated Ad rotation and testing
  • Wildcard keyword insertion

Areas where Yahoo still lags:

  • Second order optimization: The simple CTR*PPC is only a rough approximation of how to maximize revenue on the search results. Google has invested substantially in optimizing this. Yahoo hasn’t.
  • Landing page quality: Google is focused on ensuring the overall consumer experience with search & ads is top-tier. They’re looking at the quality of landing pages to assess the experience.
  • Automated price thresholds. Google does a great job determining minimum thresholds for poor ads. They are able to algorithmically determine poor ads and ensure that the quality gets raised.
  • Keyword testing. Most advertisers don’t know that Google assesses keywords that are likely relevant to your ads and displays your ads on those keywords. This likely has a substantial boost on their revenue numbers.

I hope I’m wrong, but my general assessment is that Yahoo’s Panama will look similar on the surface, but much of the sophisticated, money-making plumbing will be absent. Advertisers, publishers and Yahoo will all suffer as a result.

I’m not at all surprised that Yahoo earns so much less per search than Google does. While Google focuses on integrating ads into the consumer experience, Yahoo plasters them over the screen. Not only is Yahoo lagging Google’s per-search performance, but they are trading customer goodwill for the near-term buck.

Tools for the local website

Business,Judy's Book,SEM,SEO by on May 11, 2006 at 2:26 am

At JudysBook, we have a tremendous interest in helping local businesses succesfully build their businsesses online. There are a number of resources that they need to investigate:

Create a free business listing at:
  • Judy’s Book (of course, I’ll list our service first)
  • Google: Do a search for your business name on Google Local. Click the Edit This Listing link at the bottom of the page
  • Yahoo: Don’t get the free web site. Yahoo just uses this to sell advertising to other businesses
  • AOL: Go to Navigate to your city and your category. Click the Add/Update a listing link at the bottom of the page.
  • Amazon A9. Find your business on Amazon A9’s yellow pages. Select the Update this business info box in the lower right (not the bottom right).
On every site, read the reviews of your business. If the reviews seem fraudulent, send an email to the website.  On JudysBook, they can go ahead and respond to a review on the same page where the review is listed.
Advertise on Google and Yahoo
  • A really useful tool for building your keyword list is here:
  • AdWords supports geotargeting. So in addition to the local list you’ll build at the link above, you should take all of your generic keywords and restrict them based on geotargeting.
  • Yahoo doesn’t support geotargeting, so you can’t use generic terms (restaurant). You’ll need to use ‘seattle restaurant’
This list is by no means complete, but it should give a pretty good starting point for marketing your business online.  I’ll try to add types of resources in later posts.

Google Publication Ads Beta

Search,SEM by on September 22, 2005 at 1:15 am

Gmail recently dumped this message in my spam box:

Invitation to Participate in Google Publication Ads Pilot

For now the test is limited to roughly 30 automotive magazines, however I wouldn’t be suprised to see it expand from there.

A few early thoughts:
  • Media buyers will be out of a job in 5 years. Start looking for a new career now. Google’s interface speaks to the power of aggregated information, a point and click interface and the future simplicity of buying magazine ads.
  • Google will begin to feature demographics within AdSense/AdWords. They’ve spoken about this already, but demographics are clearly compelling to ad buyers. We know they are avaliable on large websites that already run adSense - they just aren’t available to advertisers…yet
  • If there was any doubt about Google’s ability expand beyond the Internet, this removes it. Lots of hurdles remain, but this clearly represents an ability to execute outside of their core (or their core is something different than they bill it to be).

A few screenshots:

Publication Ads starting point

A sample magazine representation

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