When you consider the complexity of modern day web pages, it’s actually a bit of a miracle that search engines work as well as they do. Dealing with duplicate links, especially off pages such as Amazon that may promote an individual product a thousand times or more has always been a challenge. Finally, after years of debate, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are putting the past behind them to solve this age old issue. The solution is a simple tag that will be added to the standard link format called “canonical”.
The tag is designed to solve issues associated with multiple URL’s pointing to the same page, but may also be helpful when multiple versions of a page exist. Currently, the search engines employ a process that looks at the structure of URL’s to look for similarities. This generally works pretty well, but is far from perfect. It is considered to be somewhat rare for search engines to come together on any issue, but it isn’t unprecedented. In 2006 they joined forces to put unanimous support behind sitemaps.org, and in June of 2008 they jointly announced new standards for the robots.txt directive. Matt Cutts of Google and Nathan Buggia of Microsoft claim this new approach should help reduce the clutter on the web, and improve the accuracy of all search engines.
Even though these tags won’t completely solve all the duplicate problems found on the web, it should significantly enhance the indexing performance of search engines, particularly on e-commerce sites. The new tags will be discussed in depth at this year’s Ask the Search Engines panel at SMX West.
Steve Ballmer’s luncheon meeting with Yahoo’s chairman Roy Bostock is being seen as a straw in the wind of a possible deal between the companies they serve. The possibility of such a deal has been ostensibly revived with last week’s meeting and the appointment of a new CEO over at Yahoo. But it might not be a great thing for Microsoft, after all.
Microsoft should concentrate on its core business of software, rather then treading Google’s domain – online search advertising, according to Slate’s Farhad Manjoo. In fact, he goes as far as saying that Microsoft should not even be in online advertising being a software company.
He points out that Microsoft’s core business has been ignored for a while and cites Vista and Windows Mobile as emblems of that ignorance. Manjoo finally has some M&A advice for Microsoft: buy Palm for just $1 billion or $2 billion instead of Yahoo - and its plethora of problems - for tens of billions.
Palm’s upcoming Pre is being tipped as the iPhone killer - that everyone is so desperately dying to encounter. Its interface does not appear to be a mere reinvention of the iPhone wheel, and may just be at the vanguard of mobile phone technology. On the other hand, Windows Mobile is a touch quaint compared to other mobile operating systems. So you can see why Microsoft’s unofficial M&A advisor believes that Palm may prove to be a better buy than Yahoo.
Yahoo "Anti-Spam Czar" Mark Risher says the search company has begun taking several steps toward cutting back on the amount of spam Yahoo email account holders receive.
"Recently, Yahoo!’s anti-spam team has been using a 'supercomputer; consisting of thousands of individual PCs — part of our open source Hadoop project — to help detect spammer," Risher wrote on the Yahoo Mail blog. "We’re teamed up with several top universities on this research, looking for more ways to find and block the bad guys even faster, before they can do their damage."
Risher went on to say Yahoo has signed a deal with Abaca, a startup company who ambitiously promises "a minimum of 99 percent accuracy" when it comes to detecting spam. Yahoo has also begun using Return Path technology, which lets legitimate companies know when their emails have been marked as spam.
Twitter isn't just great for finding out what Will Smith had for lunch on Friday (KFC, in case you were wondering) or how Norman Chan feels about chicken fried bacon, it's also capable of keeping you in the loop when it comes to current events. When something newsworthy happens, you can bet your chicken fried bacon there will be plenty of Tweets covering the action. But not only can the information be unreliable, but getting your news in 140-character nibbles doesn't always work out. And hitting up news outlets like Google News, which rely on algorithms to rank stories, doesn't always deliver the story you're looking for quick enough.
To solve these problems, Yahoo BOSS engineer Vik Singh has created TweetNews. The new service compares Yahoo's news results to hot new topics flowing through Twitter, using that information to organize and prioritize news stories. The end result is a search engine mashup that tracks Twitter feeds for fast updates on the stories you're most interested in reading.
"Basically this service boosts Yahoo’s freshest news search results (which typically don’t have much relevance since they are ordered by timestamp and that’s it) based on how similar they are to the emerging topics found on Twitter for the same query (hence using Twitter to determine authority for content that don’t yet have links because they are so fresh)," Singh wrote on his blog.
Will this change the way you get your news? Hit the jump and post your thoughts.
Every year around late December or early January the internet is bombarded with the top “whatever and such and such” of 2008. Here at Maximum PC we stopped to reflect on our favorite gaming moments, and even cracked the lid on the best of open source; but we never took the time to focus on the hilarious technological flops of the year now past. Luckily however, Tom’s Hardware has put together a fairly comprehensive list. Some of which we can agree with, others perhaps worthy of debate. The list includes:
1.) HD DVD 2.) Nvidia’s Mobile GeForce 8400M and 8600M 3.) iPhone Killers 4.) Windows Vista 5.) Mobile Television 6.) OLED Displays 7.) Phenom X3 8.) The Microsoft Yahoo Proposed Merger 9.) GPGPU 10.) Sony Ericsson XPeria X1 11.) HybridPower: Pseudo-Green 12.) Sony Batteries 13.) Fiber Optics 14.) Non-HD DTT 15.) GTA IV For PC
I’m sure we have more then a few readers that will jump to the defense of some of these items such as Windows Vista and perhaps OLED or Fiber, but it’s hard to argue with the bulk of it.
What do you think should be added or subtracted from the list?
Given that Jerry Yang has been gone as long as he has, it’s nice that Yahoo’s Board has finally stepped up and named a new CEO. Who’s the new suit that’s going to fill the shoes? Carol Bartz, formerly of Autodesk.
Who is this Carol Bartz, one might ask? Well, according to Roy Bostock, Yahoo’s Chairman, “She is the exact combination of seasoned technology executive and savvy leader that the board was looking for, and we are thrilled to have attracted such a world-class talent to Yahoo. The board is united in its view that her energetic and decisive leadership style, coupled with a proven track record of driving growth, operational excellence and shareholder value, is exactly what Yahoo needs to get back on a path toward achieving its full potential.”
Her main challenge as new CEO will be turning around a struggling media company whose services are used by hundreds of millions of people. Ms. Bartz, we wish you the best of luck and we look forward to seeing what you do with the place!
The results are in, and this might not surprise you, but Google’s market share is on the rise. November’s results show a meager, but still notable bump of 0.4 percent giving Google a grand total of 63.5 percent of all searches being done in the US. Google’s gains came mostly on the back of Microsoft’s Live Search and Ask.com which both gave up 0.2 percent. In terms of overall search engine market demand, the number of total inquires slipped a surprising 3 percent over October’s numbers. All the major search players noticed a roughly proportional drop in activity.
Despite the fact that Google appears to be well on track for world search domination, it’s worth pointing out that it isn’t all smooth sailing. The last time we reported on market share results back in August, Google enjoyed a whopping 69.17 percent of the global search market. Some of the smaller players such as AOL and Ask continue to hobble along with 3 to 4 percent of the market, but even though these numbers sound paltry, each 1 percent of the search market is reportedly worth around a billion dollars. That’s probably why competitors keep popping up, and seem to be slow to disappear.
"In our world of customized online services, responsible use of data is critical to establishing and maintaining user trust," said Anne Toth, Yahoo!'s Vice President of Policy and Head of Privacy. "We know that our users expect relevant and compelling content and advertising when they visit Yahoo!, but they also want assurances that we are focused on protecting their privacy."
The new limit puts Yahoo well ahead of its competition. Earlier this year, Google reduced its data retention time frame from 18 months to nine months, and Microsoft vowed to cut its data retention policy to six months if its rivals did the same.
Yahoo will begin implementing the new policy next month and says it will be effective across all of the company's services by the middle of 2010.
This past Thursday both Facebook and Google announced their own separate “Connect” features, designed to extend social networking capabilities further across the Internet. The connect programs, named Google Friend Connect and Facebook Connect respectively allow users of the two sites to port content they have entered (such as photos, contacts, notes, comments and status updates) to other partner pages.
Google’s service is already available to any site publisher that chooses to implement it. The features become available with a simple copy and paste of some code, so advanced coding knowledge isn’t required. Once it’s been added to a site, users can log into the service using their Google, Yahoo, AOL or OpenID accounts.
Facebook is looking to their users for help in convincing web sites that their service is worthwhile. “Obviously our launch partners don't cover all the websites you use on a daily basis, so if you want to see this list grow, get in touch with your favorite websites, developers, and services, and tell them you want to connect. With your help, we can all share more information across the web,” wrote Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
So Microsoft isn't going to acquire to Yahoo, but it did manage to snag Qi Lu, a former search and advertising executive at Yahoo with 10 years of experience under his belt. Lu, 47, will serve as Microsoft's president of the Online Service Group and will report directly to company CEO Steve Ballmer.
"I am tremendously excited to welcome Qi to Microsoft,” Ballmer said. “Dr. Lu’s deep technical expertise, leadership capabilities and hard-working mentality are well-known in the technology industry, and Microsoft will benefit from his addition to our executive management team."
Lu will clock in for the first time on January 5, 2009 and begin work overseeing several groups, including the Advertiser & Publisher Solutions business. While Lu's experience should be a valuable asset in helping Microsoft become more competitive with Google and Yahoo in online search revenue, it's interesting to note that Microsoft has replaced the leadership role of its online unit about every two to three years since jumping into the internet business a little over a decade ago. And not everyone is convinced Lu will fare any better.
"Does this make Microsoft more competitive in search today? No," said Colin Gillis, an analyst with Click Capital Research in New York.