Natural Search Blog


Google Maps adds Microformat support to results

I was pleased to see that Google Maps team announced support of the hCard microformat today in map search results. This will make the export of address/contact info easier for users, and pave the way for perhaps greater integration between the map results and other applications. If you have a browser with a Microformat plugin feature, you can easily export listing information for use in Outlook or other applications you may have:

Google Maps now supports Microformats
(click to enlarge)

Can we hope that Google’s support of Microformats at the front-end of their application might also indicate that they may eventually support Microformats at the back-end? As you may recall, in local SEO tips I posted last year, I recommended that local business webmasters not just include their business address on their site pages, but to do so in the hCard Microformat. I was probably the first to propose doing this for local search optimization, even though there’s been no overt mention from the search engine representatives that this is necessary or desirable. So, why did I recommend doing that?

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Google browser rumors resurrected

According to Ryan Naraine, Google has hired well-known browser hacker Michal Zalewski to help make their products more secure.

Zalewski has an established history of exposing security holes in various software products, particularly the Internet Explorer and Firefox browsers…

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Pay-Per-Action Ads may open up Google to being a victim of fraud

I was just reading Barry Schwartz’s report that Google is opting-in some AdSense publishers into Pay Per Action (CPA) ads. He poses the question of why would Google push these ads on the publishers who haven’t asked for it? The immediate answer I come up with is that this could actually be a test to try to detect fraud, since CPA is thought to be less prone to exploit. After all, the publisher would only get paid for these ads if someone buys – not just clicks on the ads on their sites. Perhaps the publishers that are getting opted-in are ones for which Google has had some question about the quality of click-through in their regular PPC ads.

Google AdSense logo

I’ve been thinking that an unpublished problem with Google’s pay-per-action product is that Google itself is likely to become more a victim of fraud with these types of ads. Read on and I’ll describe…

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Matt Cutts reveals underscores now treated as word separators in Google

After the recent WordCamp conference, Stephan Spencer reports here and here that Matt Cutts stated that Google now treats underscores as white-space characters or word separators when interpreting URLs. Read on for more details and my take on it…

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comScore Report Likely Misses Large Internet Segments

comScore released a list of Rankings of Top Worldwide Properties last week, but there’s likely a large segment of internet usage completely missed by their methodologies. I recently blogged about how Domainers Can’t Get No Respect (a followup piece to my 2nd installment of “Domaining & Subdomaining In The Local Space“), because they haven’t had good independent validation of some of their traffic and conversion rate figures. When I wrote that, I didn’t realize that some of them had apparently attempted to get independent validation, but were thwarted by the methodologies of audience measurment services. Frank Schilling let me know that he’d tried to get audited by comScore a few years ago, and they’d failed miserably, registering only about one-thirtieth of the US traffic they’re really getting.

comScore logo

Being somewhat familiar with comScore’s data gathering and audience share estimation methods, I can easily see how Domainers’ sites could get drastically under-represented in comScore’s figures. Read on for details…

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News: Pat Marshall new Chief New Media Officer for Yellow Book

The Wall Street Journal reports that Patrick Marshall, Superpages.com veteran, has just been named as Chief New Media Officer for Yellow Book.

Yellow Book USA Logo

I used to work with Pat back when he was President of New Media Services at GTE, overseeing Superpages.com back when it was brand new, and I know him to be a fantastic businessman. Pat is well-known in the yellow pages industry and was the recipient of The Kelsey Group’s New Technologies Leadership Award in 2002.

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Is SEO Awareness Dropping? Google Trends Shows it May Be

Using Google Trends, I was noticing how searches in Google for “Search Engine Optimization” seems to be dropping over the last two years:

Searches for Search Engine Optimization in Google Trends
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Image Sharing Sites & Search Engine Optimization

I just wrote an article on Search Engine Land on how to use image optimizations for local search engine optimization. Even prior to Google’s introduction of Universal Search, a number of us have been suggesting that improving one’s placement in various search verticals beyond the primary web search could help one’s overall natural search marketing program. I’ve written previously about optimization of image content and optimizing through Flickr — and optimizing for local search, while SES Conference sessions have covered optimizing video content, Rohit Bhargarva has written about optimizing through social media, Matt McGee has written on optimizing for Google’s Map Search, and Neil Patel has written on optimizing for blog search.

If you’re interested in a great overview of the convergence of vertical search in the newly blended Universal Search, check out this article by my colleague, P.J. Fusco on “Personalized, Universal and Optimized“.

SES 2007

If you’re interested in more details on how to optimize for image search and how to optimize through image sharing sites such as Flickr, Fotki, and 23, be sure to catch the panel session I’ll be participating in at the Search Engine Strategies Conference in San Jose in August. I’ll be joined again by my colleagues, Shari Thurow, and Liana Evans along with perhaps a couple of engineers from Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft Live.

The Simpsons & Great Participatory-Viral Marketing

Kwik-E=Mart SignThis past Saturday, I mosied over into central Dallas to check out the Kwik-E-Mart that was created to promote The Simpsons film, set to air nationwide later this week. The Kwik-E-Mart was created out of a 7-Eleven convenience store – surely the first ever instance of the subject of a satire being remade to more closely resemble the satire itself. The Dallas Kwik-E-Mart is one of the eleven created nationwide out of 7-Eleven stores, and it’s a simply fantastic piece of viral marketing, participatory marketing – and yes, linkbait.

Kwik E Mart sign, Dallas
(click to enlarge)

Read on for more details…

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Google Quietly Decommissions Click-to-Call from Maps

Google quietly decommissioned their experimental click-to-call services from Google Maps. Previously, you could use the “call” links beside phone numbers in their search results:

Google Maps Click to Call
(click to enlarge)

It’d be nice if Google would officially mention when they remove such features from service, even if they were considered experimental. Quite a number of people reported using the feature, and some were even reliant upon it for making things like personal long-distance calls from within companies that didn’t allow employees to do so, or where long distance was actively blocked. Google didn’t announce the change on the Google LatLong Blog where you might expect, but instead stated it in a response to a user’s question in the Troubleshooting section of the Google Maps Help Group:

Google Maps Click to Call Gone
(click to enlarge)

Of course, the service was introduced free, and no one can ever expect a free ride forever, and perhaps cell phones make click-to-call less attractive to users. Though, I would’ve expected they’d first see if they could get such a service to pay for itself through advertising before throwing it out altogether. For instance, each call could’ve been prepended by a brief audio ad or they could be displaying ads along side the call/maps interfaces while users were connecting through. Perhaps they just had trouble working out call quality issues.

For those users seeking a good voice-over-IP (“VOIP”) solution, I guess they can sign up for Skype.

Update: I see this has also been reported by Grant Robertson at downloadsquad.

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