Natural Search Blog


SMX LoMo Keynote: Gur Kimchi

Gur Kimchi, Principle Architect for Microsoft’s Virtual Earth, also spoke Thursday morning at the SMX Local & Mobile conference in San Francisco.

Gur Kimchi, Principal Architect, Microsoft Virtual Earth
Gur Kimchi, Principal Architect, Microsoft Virtual Earth

Gur provided a lot of demonstrations of existing and upcoming features from the Virtual Earth teams: (more…)

Where’s Waldo in Google Earth

In a very clever bit of marketing, Canadian artist Melanie Coles has created a large rooftop image of the iconic character found in the popular Where’s Waldo? book series.

Where's Waldo in Google Maps?
(click to enlarge)

The image is located somewhere in Vancouver, British Columbia, and was created with the specific intention of being findable via Google Earth (warning, I have the location pinpointed in a link and geocoordinates at the end of this post). It will be a while before Waldo can be found in Google Earth (or in Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, or MS Live Search Maps, for that matter), because there is a time lag in between when satellite images and aerial photos get updated in those services — so, it could be six months to a year before the image is really findable and viewable online.

The image was created as a demonstration of a viral game for Coles’ graduation art project at the Emily Carr Institute. Her blog statement on the project says: (more…)

Google Puts News On The Map

Google has partnered with the New York Times to put news on the map — the NYT has apparently begun geotagging their news stories so that Google can associate news items with particular locations around the world. The Google Earth application can now be used to browse around a map of the world, and headlines are associated with their places of origin.

Newspapers have been very fearful of the internet and have lost revenue from their print side to free internet alternatives. But, it’s clear that embracing greater integration with interactive technologies is one viable way to remain competitive.

New Terrain Feature on Google Maps

The Google Operating System blog alerted us to how Google Maps quietly added a new “Terrain” button and removed the “Hybrid” button which combined Satellite and Map content. The official Google Lat Long blog reports that the “hybrid” feature can be accessed by clicking the Satellite button and the clicking on/off the “Show labels” box that appears in a dynamic drop-down.

The Terrain content can look pretty dynamic for mountain areas and other places with dramatic elevation contrasts like this area for the Grand Canyon:

Grand Canyon Terrain
(click to enlarge)

I’m not sure just how valuable this is for the majority of users — (more…)

WikipediaVision Mashes Up With Google Maps and Wikipedia

An addictive little mashup called WikipediaVision has combined Google Maps with live data on updates from the English Wikipedia to display the geolocation of people editing articles in near real-time. The map rapidly pans back and forth across the world, pinpointing the locations of users who have just edited an article, and displaying the name of the article and its hyperlink.

WikipediaVision
(click to enlarge)

It’s interesting and hypnotic to sit and watch where in the world (more…)

BlogMaps – Geographic Pinpoint Maps for Blogs

A few days ago, I noticed a BlogMap in the righthand column of Robert Scoble’s blog – I don’t see it there now, so perhaps he was just experimenting with it. But, the Blogmap immediately appealed to me as a cool mashup concept, and a nice enhancement for locally-oriented blogs.

If you operate a blog that’s about a specific geographic location, I think addition of a Blog Map to your layout could be a great feature. The BlogMap shows a small map image which has your blog pinpointed on it, and a link to all the other local blogs in your area.

If you use this, I suggest you be careful about using your home address for the map pinpoint, since this could introduce negative factors, personal security-wise. Instead, use a nearby address, or use your work address.

It took me about one minute to set up this BlogMap for Natural Search Blog:

If you operate a blog that is about your local area, I also suggest using the hCard Microformat in your site design in order to best optimize for local search engines, though blog search engines likely haven’t set up special algorithms for locality specification yet. I previously blogged about how to use microformats to optimize for local search.

Another option BlogMaps offers is to just display a button that displays the number of Bloggers nearby, hyperlinked to a list of them – something you could use if your were concerned about displaying your location. They also offer a button for “your local opml”.

The Blogmap interface is very elegantly done – simple, and easy-to-use. No surprise that this was developed by one of the primary Microsoft Virtual Earth developers, Chandu Thota. Chandu just recently left Microsoft, and I’d bet they’ll miss him.

One suggestion to Chandu: it’d be really cool if you offered the option for bloggers to display the larger map that pinpoints all the top bloggers in your mapped area. I know he may’ve avoided doing this because of the cost of the maps that would need to be delivered. The way around this might be to offer this add-on service for users who wish to pay a subscription fee.

Leveraging Wikipedia for SEO: it’s no longer about the link juice

Recently when I blogged about the SEO benefits of contributing to Wikipedia, I alluded to some of the complex strategies and tactics around creating entries, keeping your edits from getting reverted, etc.

One of the benefits that can no longer be gained is link juice. That’s because rel=nofollow has just been instituted across all of Wikipedia and its sister sites (such as Wikinews).

Does that mean you no longer need to concern yourself with Wikipedia? Heck no! It is still a valuable source of traffic and, just as importantly, credibility. To have a Wikipedia entry for your company show up in the top 10 in Google for your company name gives a nice credibility boost. Even better if the coverage on your entry is favorable!

Wikipedia is still key to the discipline of “reputation management.” By understanding the ins and outs of Wikipedia — navigating the landmines of notability criteria, not contributing your company’s entry yourself, disambiguation pages, redirects, User pages, Talk pages, etc. — you can potentially influence what is said about you on Wikipedia. Furthermore, if web pages that are critical of your company occupy spots in the first page of the SERPs, you can push them out and replace them with your Wikipedia entries. Because Wikipedia holds so much authority and TrustRank, it’s easy to get an entry into the top 10 for any keyword.

Back to the nofollowing of external links… I don’t think SEOs will leave Wikipedia any time soon due to this new development. Even though that was Jimbo Wales’ hope.

There is still significant incentive for SEOs to edit (and manipulate) Wikipedia so long as Wikipedia holds the top spot for important keywords such as “marketing” in Google.

Google Maps

Geez, I just posted an amalgamation of Google news, then a day later they launch another new service — Google Maps. I can’t seem to keep up with all the cool stuff that Google Labs pumps out. I love the way you can pan around by clicking and dragging with the mouse. Check it out!

Wikipedia, Maps

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