Monthly Archives: March 2008

Atlanta, GA based Delta Airlines is using YouTube.com in an interesting new way! Delta hopes their YouTube video will increase brand awareness, Delta's online presence as well as safety on Delta's flights. "Deltalina" as it has come to be known is a play on the name Delta Airlines and Angelina Jolie who some say the 33 year old stewardess featured in the video resembles. Either way the video posted at YouTube is simply Delta Airlines' flight safety video made available online. Kudos to Delta for using video content and making it available online at no additional cost to Delta. In addition to YouTube.com, this story has been featured a number of other places therefore only increasing Delta's ROI for the production. As of the date of this post the video has been viewed 290,412 times and "Deltalina" has received one marriage proposal.

- beu

A new and updated version of Google's "Spam Recognition Guide for Quality Raters" that surfaced recently. At first I was a little skeptical as to the document's authenticity. After a little "forensic" analysis, I feel reasonably certain the the document is at least partially legitimate. I'm still going through the document but, a few sections seemed worth mentioning. Big hat tip to vizualbod.com.

"Revised Rating:
Vital
Useful
Relevant
Not Relevant
Off-topic
Didn't Load
Foreign Language
Unratable"

Interesting confirmation that being "relevant" isn't always the most important issue.

"Some individuals have more than one blog and/or more than one homepage on a social networking site (e.g. myspace, facebook, friendster, mixi). When these pages are maintained by the individual (or an authorized representative of the individual), they are all considered to be Vital."

Hmmm... think social networks are a total waste of time do you?

"Relevant
"A rating of Relevant is assigned to pages that have fewer valuable attributes than were listed for Useful pages. Relevant pages might be less comprehensive, come from a less authoritative source, or cover only one important aspect of the query."

I've always suspected this notion of a total number of "valuable attributes" as being important. As in, more information is better. This factor also comes into play when sites use formats or technology which prevent Google from extracting information used as signals.

"Recognizing true merchants:
Features that will help you determine if a website is a true merchant include:

  • a "view your shopping cart" link that stays on the same site and updates when you add items to it,
  • a return policy with a physical address,
  • a shipping charge calculator,
  • a "wish list" link, or a link to postpone purchase of an item until later,
  • a way to track FedEx orders,
  • a user forum, the ability to register or login,
  • a gift registry, or
  • an invitation to become an affiliate of that site"

Confirmation that even "quality sites" could be mistaken as other or in some way depreciated if all bases aren't covered.

- beu

A few weeks ago I was invited by K M World Magazine to attend a sponsored webcast called "Innovation @ Google". The webcast was earlier today, moderated by Andy More K M World's publisher and featured Naveen Viswanatha, Google's Enterprise Sales Engineer.

Here is my recap of the KMWorld Magazine sponsored "Innovation@Google" webcast followed by the presentation PowerPoint in pdf:

Today Google is the "World's largest search engine" employing more than 16,000 employees in 40 offices worldwide "including Mountain View, New York, Boston, London, Tokyo, Hamburg, Paris and Milan" not to mention Atlanta, GA. Sorry I had to throw that in but either way how can you leave out the AtlantaPlex? : ) Either way, Google has interfaces in 109 languages and 113 international domains. Google's market share according to MediaMetrix is more than 62% of worldwide search views.

According to Naveen, the internet's evolution has moved from the early years (pre-1998) of "Information" past the middle years (1998-2006) of "Distribution & Communication" to "Network & Platform" today (2006-). Users seem to have moved from reading, buying, trading and talking online to publishing their own content in the form of social networking sites, video and blogs. In 1998 there were an estimated 77 million users but today Google's estimate is 1 billion and growing. As a result of this growth Google had no choice but to innovate in new areas simply to keep up with the explosive increase in users. One way Google has kept up with this explosive growth rate is by acquiring new and innovative companies. Along the way Google has acquired companies like Keyhole, dMarc, writely, SketchUp, Pyra Labs, Applied Semantics, Urchin, Blogger, Picasa, dodgeball and android just to name a few.

With innovation at the core of Google's competitiveness how does Google foster innovation in house? To solve this critical problem early on, one of Google's founders developed a method for resource allocation rooted in the world of academics and the profession of both founders fathers. Known as "Sergey's Resource Allocation Rule" the 70/20/10 rule finds search (quality, crawl systems, indexing), advertising (AdWords & AdSense) and applications (Google Apps) at the heart of Google's business model as well as where 70 percent of Googler time is spent. After the important stuff gets done, then come projects Google deems as having "Strong Potential" such as Blogger, Google News, Google Pack software and Picasa Google's photo-bloging platform. "Strong potential" projects are given 20 percent time by Googlers. After the most important work and project with "Strong potential" are out of the way Googlers spend the remaining 10 percent of their time on projects of personal interest. Products like Google WiFi, Google Transit and various forms of offline advertising have evolved out of Google personal interest projects. In addition to allocating resources Google keeps ideas fresh in part by sponsoring multiple collegiate competitions designed to target various areas of academia annually.

According to Naveen, Google believes in having a flat management structure. He says it's the key to Google's success. By having a flat management structure, Googlers are free to innovate and share information openly. In fact, Google has created internal systems and process that appear to replace the roll of what some consider traditional management structure. Naveen went on to talk about a few applications Google has created to help foster innovation at Google.

One of Google's processes for internal collaboration is called "Product Snippets". Google Product Snippets are a weekly email sent out on Monday where Googlers are asked to submit their previous weeks projects and activities as well as their forecasted work for the week ahead. All Product Snippets are then compiled into a database and made searchable to other Googlers so everyone knows what is going on at Google. Data collected via Snippets is then published to the "PDB" or Google's project database user interface all in real time making information collected easy for any Googler to access as well as comprehend no matter their area of expertise, language or location.

Google Ideas is another application developed and used internally by Google to "generate, prize & encourage" Googlers to act on new ideas. In "Google Ideas", Googlers can share ideas, keep up to date on new ideas for potential new projects, comment on new ideas and even rate ideas on a scale of 1-5. As you can see, at Google there is a lot of focus on new ideas. New ideas it seems, lead to innovative new solutions according to Naveen.

It's easy to see in these examples that "innovation is a collaborative process" and that "collaboration enables innovation". Another way Google helps collaboration and thus innovation is called "moma". "Moma inside Google" is Google's intranet search engine offering options like Googlers, Rooms, Maps and of course the famous Google "more" option. In addition to these internal Google vertical search options, Googlers can choose between internal secure content and Moma NEXT. Using Moma, Naveen explains how he finds the right expert Googler to collaborate with on an issue impacting his project and explains how Moma makes collaboration easy at Google. In addition, Naveen goes on to demonstrate some of the advanced tools within Moma including definitions, glossary terms, Googler added search results and suggestions all accessible via a drop down in Moma's main GUI. Naveen's screen shot also reveals that Googlers even have access to food, lunch guest, lunch recommendations, tickets, IT support, expense reports, Google HR, gTime (Google Time Cards), performance reviews, vacation requests, the Google employee handbook, benefits at Google, photos and more. Naveen points out that, public applications like, Gmail, Google Talk, Calendar, Docs and more have all been integrated into one seamless streamlined application. Google Moma is an efficient platform for collaboration and therefore innovation at Google.

Naveen's next slide is all red with white text that says "Innovation = Discovery + Collaboration" all over "(+Fun!)". Bottom line, by allowing Googlers creative latitude to solve problems it's easy to see why Googlers enjoy collaborating and why innovation just seems to happen at Google. Please feel free to check out their archived webcast. Again, special thanks to Andy More, K M World, Naveen Viswanatha and Google. Great job guys, gals and Googlers!

- beu

Google recently announced that they will soon start including landing page load time as a factor in determining Google AdWords Quality Score. Here are a few simple and easy tips designed to help anyone decrease their load times and speed up landing pages. I've listed just a few below but, feel free to comment with more if you'd like.

  • Avoid 301, 302 and JavaScript redirects to your landing pages and don't use interstitial pages.
  • Reduce or eliminate the number of session ID and arguments in landing pages.
  • Use absolute URLs for dependencies.
  • Use external CSS and move calls for external CSS to the top of the HEAD in your landing pages and just below the TITLE.
  • "Prefectch" landing page image dependencies near the top of the HEAD in your landing page HTML.
  • Keep page dependencies within the same domain. In other words, try to avoid framed content and/or any content dependancy residing at another domain from loading into your page.
  • Remove unnecessary "white space" in HTML code including text that is "commented out".
  • Avoid embedded Flash content in your landing pages, especially when content in Flash is being pulled from another source.
  • Avoid animated gifs and unoptimized images of any type.
  • Reduce the total number of images in your landing pages and specify their size in the src container.
  • Reduce the size of images in your landing page by 10%.
  • Use CSS instead of relying on "spacer.gif" or "clear.gif" images to style the look and feel of your landing pages.
  • Allow caching when possible.
  • Use external JavaScript and move external JavaScript like analytics code and other to the bottom of your landing pages.

- beu

First reported by AussieWebmaster and jkwilson, Google will soon add "load time" to their list of criteria for Google's AdWords Quality Score. In a new version of the Google AdWords FAQ posted prematurely by accident and then removed late Wednesday Google said:

"Beginning in February 2008, you'll be able to see a grade for your website's load time in your AdWords account. 'Load time' refers to the amount of time it takes for a user to arrive at your functional landing page after clicking your ad. Several weeks after your load time grade becomes visible, it will begin to impact your landing page quality and, therefore, your Quality Score. We recommend working to improve your load time during this interim if it's received a low score."

All this talk of website load time made me wonder if Google had updated what it considers a "reasonable" amount of time for a page to load. According to the AdWords learning center 4 seconds still seems to be Google's standard."Make sure your page loads quickly — under four seconds if possible. Slow load times deter visitors from staying. "
- http://www.google.com/adwords/learningcenter/text/19428.html

So, what sites will be the most negatively impacted? Obviously sites that take the longest time to load. And what sites take the longest to load? One word, FLASH! If you have an all Flash site I would consider steps to speed things up and quick. In addition I would consider limited use of Flash as well as increasing content in HTML. Hmmm... I feel like I've said that before oh yeah, I have. : )

Either way, as I said at SearchEngineWatch.com:

"Interesting that load time is now part of quality score since the factor has always been important at Google. After all, load time is one reason why Google's homepage seems so simple. I understand that in the early days, Larry was known to count the number of words on Google's home page daily as well as to check it's speed using a stopwatch. In fact the content at the bottom of the page was added after early user testing because participants sat waiting for the rest of the page to load....

Oh well sorry for the history lesson, I'm a little surprised it's taken this long to be added or "officially" at least. Either way I think this step is great for users."

- beu