Natural Search Blog


Amazon Acquires Social Media Book Site Shelfari

Amazon has acquired Shelfari, a site where people can share their reading lists, review books, and find books to read. Others have noted that Shelfari sports a cool user interface, but I note that there are quite a few book list sharing sites out there like it, such as LibraryThing, aNobii, and GoodReads.

Shelfari's Engaging User Interface

I’m not sure that the UI alone is really enough to differentiate Shelfari from the pack, particularly if Amazon over-commercializes it. I think if it tries to push book sales too much, it might easily disaffect the usership and they could easily swing over to one of the handful of competitors. (more…)

LinkedIn Beta Tests New Homepage Layout

So, I’m at the SMX West conference tonight, hopping around networking with people and every so often updating my Flickr pix or sending work emails when I noticed that LinkedIn is apparently beta-testing a new homepage layout on me. Check out the screengrab of what I see now when I login to LinkedIn:

LinkedIn Beta of New Homepage
(click to enlarge)

So, they want feedback on their new design, so I’ll give it here. (more…)

Origins of the Google Logo

Wired today has an article on the preliminary Google logo designs – something that aspiring internet commercial artists should check out.

One of the designs is obviously referencing Op Art to give a modernistic feel. Another treats the second “O” as a sort of loose metaphor for the web or to symbolize multidimensionality. Yet another uses a magnifying glass for the second “O” — a much more literal representation for a search engine which we used to see really frequently in the earlier years of the internet (remember stuff like the old WebCrawler logo?).

I think the version they ultimately used is the best/strongest one, even though I think it likely owes something to eBay’s playful/colorful logo.

The original designer of the Google logo was Ruth Kedar, an assistant professor at Stanford at the time. She noted, “I had no idea at the time that Google would become as ubiquitous as it is today, or that their success would be of such magnitude”.

Ubiquitous it is indeed. As I noted two months ago, the frequency of use of the Google logo and its familiarity within the popular culture have been growing to the point of actually being a little bit of a danger from the viewpoint of being able to protect the marks as intellectual property.

Google Lip Balm Stick
The Google name is on everyone’s lips.
Copyright Silver Smith 2007. All rights reserved.

Zvents Launches Federated Local Search

Zvents announced today their launch of a new, blended search results page for local content. Now, when you do searches on their site, they’ll bring back results for various businesses, events, performances, movies, store sales and more in your local area. Here’s a screengrab of the newly-blended results page:

Zvents - New Federated Search
(click to enlarge)

You can see little icons to the right side of the listings which indicate what type of listing each result represents.

Google’s move to Universal Search in the past year and their recent move to expand out the local one-box results from a few listings to ten would indicate that user-testing is showing blended results to be a very popular item among search engine users. Zvents move to provide blended results makes them a very strong contender as a provider for local search and content technology. As Greg Sterling mentions, Zvents is a provider for syndicated content for third parties like newspapers, and they’re clearly positioning themselves as a potential backend for other local content sites wanting to have functionality similar to Google’s.

From trying out Zvents’ new functionality, (more…)

Organic Search Marketing in 2008: Predictions

If you’re even the slightest bit aware of what’s been going on in organic search marketing, you couldn’t help but know that Google made a number of changes during 2007 which impacted the natural search marketing programs for many webmasters. So here’s my little post predicting where I see the trends pointing and what we can expect in 2008 and beyond… (more…)

Google Testing New Local OneBox Layout & Addresses in PPC Ads

Greg Sterling this morning mentioned that Google is apparently experimenting with allowing full street addresses to appear below the URLs in PPC ads.

Even more interesting, this thread at Webmasterworld now reports seeing a new layout of local listings within Google SERPs — their screengrab shows the Google Maps onebox results on the right side of the page, apparently above the Sponsored Links ads.

Is this just usual UI/Usability testing, or could this segue into more unrest for the local SERPs?

Superpages.com Adds More User-Generated Content to the Local Mix

About a week ago, Idearc announced that Superpages.com had introduced more user-content features.

Superpages adds Web 2.0 Features
(click to enlarge)

Previously, the primary component of user content on the site was limited to user ratings and reviews associated with business listings.

Some of the new features this recent upgrade added include allowing all users to enhance basic biz profile information, uploading pictures of organizations, wiki-like biz listing “blog” features which could allow simplistic blogging by businesses and/or could be used as a consumer comment or Q/A zone for each business since any user could submit info to them.

Of all the top online yellow pages and local search sites, I believe that Superpages may now have the distinction of having the greatest (more…)

Superpages Launches New Redesign

I noticed that my old company, Idearc Media, just launched a major new redesign today for their primary web property, Superpages.com:

Superpages new redesign

Read on for a few of my comments about it.

(more…)

SEO May Be Eclipsed by User-Centered Design

I’ve been seeing indications that Google has shifted their weighting of the ~200 various signals they use in their ranking soup over the past couple of years. It used to be that PageRank along with the number of keyword references on a page were some of the strongest signals used for what page comes up highest in the search results, but I’ve seen more and more cases where PageRank and keyword density seem relatively weaker than they once were. I see a lot of reasons to believe that quality ratings have become weighted more heavily for rankings, particularly among more popular search keywords. Google continues to lead the pack in the search marketplace, so their evolution will likely influence their competitors in similar directions, too.

So, what is my evidence that Google’s development of Quality criteria is becoming more influential in their rankings than PageRank and other classic optimization elements? Read on and I’ll explain. (more…)

Verizon to Spin-Off Verizon Information Services & Superpages.com

Verizon’s official announcement regarding the spin-off plans came out just a short while ago. Verizon Communications Corp. is spinning off the business unit that I work for, Verizon Information Services, and its local information website, Superpages.com.

The new company’s name is “Idearc Inc.”, and it will operate under marks of “Idearc” and “Idearc Media“:

idearclogo

 

I’m not allowed to make any sort of forward-sounding business statements in relation to this until the spin-off is completed, due to the usual SEC rules. This is one of the common-sense limits one must place on one’s self, if one is an employee who happens to blog in one’s personal time! :-) (Wow! That sounded inhuman and recursive, didn’t it!) While I am an employee of VIS, I’m not speaking here in any sort of official capacity for my company, and any interpretations I place here are completely my own viewpoint. Obviously, nothing I say should be used in making stock purchase/sale decisions!

(more…)

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