Monthly Archives: January 2011

Google Looks to Clean up the Search Clutter

Content farms. Link abusers. Spam sites.

All culprits preventing a great user search experience. And all culprits that Google has decided to go after. Because Google has admitted that their search experience had gone down. That they were wrongly ranking highly sites that shouldn’t be. Sites that have simply manipulated Google’s algorithms.

But Google has gone through, changed their algorithms and their ranking processes, as well as red-flagged certain manipulative sites by hand. And Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s webspam team claims that now, Google’s search quality is the best it has ever been in terms of “search relevance, freshness and competitiveness.”

New Study Shows that Even the Rich Are Coupon Hounds

It makes sense that the rich would be smart online shoppers, doesn’t it? But for some reason, this new report from Experian Hitwise comes across a bit surprising.

Online searches for coupons and discount codes are quite common among the holidays, and up 13% year-over-year from 2009. But the most fascinating part of the report is that for 59% of these online shoppers, their household income is greater than $60k/yr. In fact, the stats show that there is a direct correlation between income and likelihood to search for retailer coupons – the richer you are, the more likely you are to search for them.

While this may appear like “the rich get richer” evidence, it’s really the fact that the tech-smart benefit most in the tech world.

Is Living Social a Legitimate Groupon Competitor?

Living Social jumped into the spotlight last week with a $20 for $10 Amazon gift certificate group-coupon promotion that blew Groupon’s en masse GAP experiment last year out of the water.

Is Living Social a real Groupon threat, or a flash in the pan? Well, here’s one reason Living Social did so well with this promotion. They have a very specific sharing motivation. After you purchase the deal, and share the link to your friends via social media channels, if 3 of your friends purchase the deal via your link, your deal is free.

This is huge. Not only are the deals great, but the idea of getting it for free? Now, Groupon has been experimenting with this as well. Giving specific cash benefits for spreading the good news of good news. But the “share with 3, get 1 free” idea is so straightforward and do-able, Living Social might have found their way in the door.

And Groupon may be sweating giving up that $6 billion deal.

Egypt Has Shut Down the Internet

I didn’t even know this was really possible, but the Egyptian government has completely shut down Internet access and SMS texting communication for 80 million people.

Is this a North Korean-esque stunt to keep the Egyptian people shut off from the outside world? Well President Hosni Mubarek has been facing quite a lot of citizen unrest, demanding an end to his 30-year rule. And I’m guessing this isn’t going to help his cause. In fact, on Friday, Mubarek ordered troops and tanks into Egyptian cities to quell street fighting and mass protests.

While questions of democracy and safety are top of mind right now, this has raised a big question in the tech world. Specifically regarding the idea of how a government can shut down the Internet. Well, it looks like they simply demanded the shutdown of Egypt’s four largest Internet service providers.

Could that happen here?

Starbucks Launches Mobile Payments Across U.S.

Starbucks has introduced mobile payments throughout their U.S. stores. This means that, as of today, you can pay for your morning coffee using your smartphone.

Now, first off, let me tip my hat to Starbucks. Because they are the perfect retailer to toe the water with this new technology. Think about it. The person willing to pay $3 or more for coffee in the morning is much more likely to have a smartphone than the rest of the population. In fact, with no data to back me up, I bet Starbucks customers have a greater percentage of smart phones than nearly any other mass retailer or eatery.

But, these mobile payments may not be exactly what you think. Because you pay using your Starbucks Card via mobile app. You can’t pay with your standard credit card yet. You have to transfer funds to your Starbucks Card. And that’s one step too many in the future.

But for now, it’s pretty cool.

Pay-Per-Click Search Rebounds in 2010

After a discouraging 2009, U.S. pay-per-click advertising made a huge comeback in 2010, with 18.5% year-over-year growth in paid search, according to a new report from SearchIgnite.

Especially within the 4th quarter, which saw major rebounding across all economic sectors. In the paid search world, the 4th quarter saw a 35.5% increase over the prior year, with a 44.8% December increase year-over-year.

What does this say about 2011? That it should be a good one for the search world and online advertising overall. With Google working harder and harder to get rid of spam, and Bing working harder and harder to get back in the game, users and advertisers alike should experience the best year of search to date.

The Facebook vs. Google Debate

It’s a fun debate to have. Who will be the more profitable company in 5 years? Most people jump with Google. And it’s hard to blame them. But if you see recommendations from friends as inherently more valuable than recommendations from strangers, then you can see every online advertising dollar going to Facebook in the future.

And there’s some evidence for this. A report from eMarketer predicts that Facebook’s ad revenue will grow from $1.86 billion in 2010 to $4.05 billion in 2011. That would be a 118% increase year-over-year. And that’s with Facebook still expanding wildly globally.

It’a always hard to predict what’s going to happen. How Google’s going to grow. How online advertising is going to evolve. But I’m going out on a limb…my vote’s on Facebook.

Why Twitter Challenged the Wikileaks Subpoena

It’s always a little confusing when a company like Google caters to an oppressive country’s regulatory ask. After all, this is the Internet. Freedom of information, right?

And yet, it looks as if every Internet company instantly caved upon government subpoena requests for information after the WikiLeaks debacle. Except for Twitter that is. Why? Well, Twitter’s legal backing comes from the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, a think tank of cyberlaw experts, founded by Charles Nesson, who defended Pentagon Papers leaker, Daniel Ellsberg.

Now, it’s not that Twitter is refusing to cooperate. They’re simply refusing for the matter to be private. They want to be up front with their users regarding what the government is requesting and what they are going to be able to have access to. It’s a smart PR move, if that’s all it is. Or perhaps their legal consultants simply helps them to be more aware of their rights.

Why Groupon Thinks it Can Win in China

All the tech superheroes want to get into China. It’s the biggest potential economy in the world – by a landslide. But, it’s a tough one. Incredibly regulated by the controlling Chinese government.

Yet, that hasn’t stopped Groupon for wanting to see if they can mimic their U.S. local domination in China’s local cities. After their acquisition of local competitors in Taiwan and Hong Kong, Groupon has chosen a different method in Mainland China. Building from scratch, and aggressively hiring at every position. In fact, insider reports claim that they hope to be a 1,000 employee organization by March, starting off as 10 Groupon executives.

Groupon has the money. They obviously have the ambition. But can they do what so many American tech companies have tried to do and failed? We’ll see.

Microsoft WebMatrix Tool Hopes to Simplify Web Development

WebMatrix is a new web development tool from Microsft, designed to simplify website creation and optimization for developers of all skill levels. WebMatrix lets users code, test and deploy their websites, incorporating built-in search engine optimization features.

In fact, users can run a search engine optimization report within WebMatrix to find out how to make their sites more visible to search engines with practical feedback and recommendations.

WebMatrix lets developers utilize templates and code through WordPress, Joomla, DotNetNuke, Umbraco and more. With these open-source integrations and easy optimization tools, WebMatrix may become the DreamWeaver replacement for the wannabe web developer on a budget.