AOL Launches Local Events Search: When.com


AOL is unveiling When.com. It’s a local events site powered by Zvents. When.com deemphasizes the AOL brand but will become part of the “AOL Local Network,” that includes MapQuest, AOL Cityguide, AOL Travel, etc.

When.com uses IP targeting to determine default location, but offers personalization when users register.

Zvents content is also integrated into MSN Cityguides. Yahoo has Upcoming, its user-generated events site. Google Calendar allows publisher to add events and allows users to discover/search for them. Users, publishers and venues can also add listings to When.com.

What’s interesting about Zvents, among other things, is that the site is trying to define “events” broadly to include local retail sales and other non-traditional event occurrences.

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Google Says, Don’t Rewrite Dynamic URLs To Static URLs

Almost two years ago, Google updated their guidelines to say that they can now properly handle crawling dynamic URLs. But last night, Google posted a blog entry now telling webmasters not to use rewrite rules for dynamic URLs, at least in most cases.

Google say, in bold, “avoid reformatting a dynamic URL to make it look static.” But Google also admitted that “static URLs might have a slight advantage in terms of clickthrough rates.” However, Google said “dynamic URLs should be favored over hiding parameters to make them look static.”

Does that mean SEOs and webmasters should stop rewriting their dynamic URLs? Would I personally recommend that? I think so, based on what I have been seeing recently from Google. As long as your dynamic URLs do not contain an unusual amount of parameters, like over five, I would think it would serve you better, in terms of ranking well in Google, to use dynamic URLs.

Again, this is a huge change in SEO philosophy and practice.

If the Google blog post is not evidence enough for you, to stop using rewrites, then maybe this additional information will help. I have seen, personally, on some of my large database driven sites, that Google has suggested that they have extremely high number of URLs. Those URLs are rewritten to be search engine friendly, at least they were back several years ago. If they were dynamic URLs, then Google would maybe not show that message. Maybe they would just handle them as they should be handled.

Of course, Google said there is no such thing as a duplicate content penalty, but there is such a thing as duplicate content. I suspect, having dynamic URLs as dynamic URLs would help Google figure out if a page is duplicate or not. Serving up static URLs in some of those cases, may confuse Google. And then you have the too many redirects warning in Google Webmaster Tools. I think related as well.

So what should a webmaster do with old sites that have old rewrites in place? I would be extremely wary about moving hundreds of URLs from their static rewrite version, back to their dynamic version. A Google Groups thread discussing this specific blog post does recommend that if you do move those URLs, you use a 301 redirect.

But should you? Google really does not comment about if you should make the big move or not, for a high number of old URLs already in the Google index. On one hand, Google now prefers dynamic URLs in these cases. On the other hand, you already have those pages indexed in Google and the link popularity for those pages have been long established. Using a 301 redirect will eventually transfer most, if not all, the old URLs to the new URLs – but how quickly and how much will you lose?

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Empowering users to map their worlds

In countries like India, great maps and comprehensive local data are hard to come by. And traditional mapping approaches are stretched to the limit in such environments, where infrastructure and local businesses are evolving at a furious pace.

This need inspired them in Google India to design and build Google Map Maker, which enables users everywhere over to create rich, deep maps and fresh local data. People can mark their favorite spots in their cities and hometowns, add features such as roads, parks, and buildings, tag small businesses to help users find them, and collaborate to map neighborhoods of interest. This product is motivated by the spirit of information democracy, where people can create information that are moderated and consumed by their peers.

Today(8/28/2008), they are bringing home this innovation by launching Google Map Maker in India, which has already been deployed in 57 other countries.

Google Map Maker will result in rich local data which will benefit Google users both on the web and on mobile. The creation of base maps where there were previously none will encourage many mashups, mapplets and other cool applications that make use of this data. We’re also excited to see Google Map Maker create a new breed of local map experts who bring their passion for their neighborhoods and communities into the online world, adding to local commerce, tourism and investment.

I will leave you with a map of IIT Bombay, the alma mater to many of them in Google India. When I spent a few hours mapping IIT Bombay — the place I lived in, the school I went to, and the streets I played on, it turned out to be a surprisingly satisfying experience that reconnected me to a place that is home to many of my memories. We hope you will find the Google Map Maker experience as fun and fulfilling as we do.

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Making Money on Youtube with Content ID

Late last year, Google introduced newest tool for YouTube’s content identification and management system, Video ID. While theye have long provided copyright owners with similar content policies and tools, Video ID was revolutionary because it provided real choice and control to content owners by combining a sophisticated policy engine with cutting-edge video matching technology. With the other tools in their content ID system, Video ID helps content owners decide exactly what they want done with their videos, whether to block, promote, or even—if a copyright holder chooses to license their content to appear on the site—monetize them.

They’ve been curious to see what copyright holders would choose. Would the vast majority of partners block user-uploaded videos? Or would they embrace Video ID as an opportunity to generate revenue and exposure for their content online?

As it turns out, their partners are choosing the latter, monetizing 90% of all claims created through Video ID. This has led directly to a similarly significant increase in monetizable partner inventory, as their Video ID partners are seeing claimed content more than double their number of views, against which they can run ads. This means that if a partner has, say, 10,000 views of its content, leaving up videos claimed by their system will lead to an average additional 10,000 views of that same content. We call this “partner uplift,” and for some partners we’ve seen uplift as high as 9000%.

Access to their copyright management tools is open to all rights owners, regardless of whether they choose to license their content to YouTube. But it’s clear to our 300+ Video ID partners that our technology has created a framework that allows copyright holders to sanction the creativity of their biggest fans. These partners now have a new way to successfully distribute and market their content online, and with the help of our users, they are finding Video ID critical to discovering such opportunities.

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5 Reasons Why Rankings Are A Poor Measure Of Success

Are you still measuring your SEO success by the rankings you obtain? If so, you need to stop—right now!
Here’s why:

1. Rankings are constantly fluctuating. You might check rankings one minute, then check again a few minutes later and see different results.

2. Search results are sometimes geotargeted. The search engines know where you’re located by your IP address, and if they want they can (and I believe they do) sometimes point you to pages that are closer to where you are searching from, as they assume those results might be more beneficial to you.

3. Personalized search. If you’re logged into your Google or Yahoo account, you may very well be getting search results that are specifically targeted to your own preferences. It’s called personalized search, and it is a reality these days. As people use Gmail, Google Analtyics, Google AdWords, or any other free Google toy, Google learns more about you and may make specific recommendations based on this knowledge. Think about how Amazon is always making personalized recommendations for you. It wouldn’t surprise me if Google and Yahoo become more Amazon-like with their recommendations in the near future. The end result is that no two people will see the same rankings, making them an even more worthless measurement than they already are.

4. Rankings don’t equal targeted traffic. Heck, rankings don’t always even equal un-targeted traffic! If you or your SEO company optimizes your pages for keyword phrases that nobody’s searching for, your optimization efforts will all be wasted. And if you’re measuring success by how you rank for those useless keywords, you may be thinking you’re successful when you’re really not. This is actually one of the oldest tricks in the book for unscrupulous (or incompetent) SEO companies to use. They fulfill their end of the bargain—get you rankings—and you’re left scratching your head wondering why your website is still a ghost town.

5. Rankings don’t equal conversions or sales. Along the same lines of #4, all the high rankings in the world won’t matter if they don’t increase your bottom line somehow. If you receive lots of untargeted traffic, or no traffic at all, your sales will remain static.

The things that matter, of course—the targeted traffic, but even more important than that—the conversions and sales. Yeah, it was nice in the old days when we could say we did our job by running ranking reports each month and pointing out all the increases to our clients. But that’s simply not going to fly these days. Today, you have to be able to show your clients a positive return on their SEO investment, or you’re just not doing your job properly.

Get with the program and start measuring the things that matter.

Educate your clients or your CEO as much as possible. It can certainly be a difficult concept for some of them to grasp, as rankings are often a vanity thing for them. But once you convince them of the lack of merit in measuring rankings, you’ll be free to throw your rank checking software out the window once and for all and be on your way to true search engine success!

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New Enhancements on the Google Content Network

Google announced a new feature that are coming to content network. These enhancements are the latest result of our integration with DoubleClick and thier commitment to making advertising on the Google content network more efficient and accountable. The new enhancements that will be available in the coming months are the next step in their integration and in enabling standard industry functionality on the Google content network:

1. Frequency Capping: Enables advertisers to control the number of times a user sees an ad. Users will have a better experience on Google content network sites because they will no longer see the same ad over and over again.

2. Frequency Reporting: Provides insight into the number of people who have seen an ad campaign, and how many times, on average, people are seeing these ads.

3. Improved Ads Quality: Brings performance improvements within the Google content network.

4. View-Through Conversions: Enables advertisers to gain insights on how many users visited their sites after seeing an ad. This helps advertisers determine the best places to advertise so users will see more relevant ads.

Google is enabling this functionality by implementing a DoubleClick ad-serving cookie across the Google content network. Using the DoubleClick cookie means that DoubleClick advertisers and publishers don’t have to make any changes on their websites as we continue our integration efforts and offer additional enhancements. This also means that with one click, users can opt out of a single cookie for both DoubleClick ad serving and the Google content network. (If a user has already opted out of the DoubleClick cookie, that opt-out will also automatically apply to the Google content network.)

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AdSense For Feeds Is Now Available To All Google Publishers

Google Operating System reported they are now seeing the Google AdSense for Feeds option in their AdSense account set up screen. I noted at the Search Engine Roundtable that many folks are buzzing about the new feature at several discussion forums. It appears to me that this beta offering is now open to all, if not most Google AdSense publishers.

In short, Google AdSense for Feeds allows publishers to add AdSense ads within their RSS feed distribution. In fact, Google has been making it easier for those with FeedBurner accounts to easily integrate AdSense for Feeds in their published RSS feeds. The other day, I broke the news at the Search Engine Roundtable that FeedBurner is not accepting new publishers into the FeedBurner Ad Network. A few days after that, Google pushes out the AdSense for Feeds to virtually all AdSense publishers.

Google’s AdSense for Feeds has been in beta since May 2005. I was one of the early beta testers. In any event, here is a screen shot of what the set up screen looks like for publishers:

Google AdSense for Feeds by rustybrick.

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