Recent posts in my Google Category

November 21, 2012

“Platform wars” - Charles Arthur at Online Information

At Online Information this year Charles Arthur was talking about the platform wars that he has recently written a book about, inspired by a call from a publisher’s agent who observed that Apple, Microsoft and Google “always seem to be fighting each other.” Here are my notes from the session.

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November 6, 2012

“Brazil’s newspapers close ranks against Google and Apple” - Caio Túlio Costa at #TAS12

Two talks at the Tablet and App summit in Frankfurt addressed the issue of national newspaper groups coming together to challenge the established digital distribution channels of Apple, Amazon, Google and the like. The first of these case studies came from Brazil - Caio Túlio Costa explaining how the newspaper industry had challenged Google and Apple.

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May 15, 2012

Google Currents - a system for publishers, not journalists

I always like to play around with new toys, and so as soon as the Google Currents production system was released to the public, I set about making an edition for myself - and discovered that it is a system for publishers, not journalists or individual authors.

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May 2, 2012

If even Google and Facebook are struggling with the pace of change - what chance media companies?

Reading pieces by Eric Jackson and Peter Kirwan yesterday leaves an awkward question hanging in the air. If Google and Facebook are really struggling with the impact of disruption to their business models from changes in trends on the internet, where does that leave media companies, many of whom haven’t really got to grips with web 1.0 yet?

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January 11, 2012

SEO is dead. Again.

The launch of Google’s “Search, plus Your World” launch has started a round of people exclaiming that SEO is dead. Again. I’m trying to find out exactly when the fatality took place - and the earliest claim I can find is March 2005.

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January 5, 2012

Google+ survey for FUMSI

If you’ve got two minutes, and you use Google+, then I’d really appreciate it if you could find the time to fill in a quick survey I’m running about the use of the service. The results will feed into some articles that I am writing for FUMSI.

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February 15, 2011

New York Times article on SEO delves into the real link economy

A link to a New York Times piece on the world of SEO has been doing the rounds for the last few days - “The Dirty Little Secrets of Search”. If you've never really delved into the SEO world then it is a decent layman's introduction.

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February 9, 2011

BBC Sport defends itself against accusations of selling paid SEO links on BBC Online

There has been a bit of a storm in a teacup this week over whether the BBC is selling links on the BBC Sport site, prompted by this blog post from Sam Rutley. Lewis Wiltshire, Editor of the BBC Sport site, has utterly refuted the claims. Most news organisations are a little naive about the cash value of links on their domains.

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February 3, 2011

Google and Bing - 3 quick points about their spat

Three quick things about the highly enjoyable spat between Google & Microsoft over whether Bing has been stealing search results.

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February 2, 2011

"User research lessons from Philips, Google & the BBC" - Steve Rogers at PublicZone's user research event

On Friday I was talking at an event hosted by digital agency PublicZone, who specialise in working with not-for-profit organisations. They were launching a new booklet, "The User Research Handbook", and one of the speakers was an ex-BBC colleague, Steve Rogers, who is now Director of EMEA at Google. During the course of his talk Steve gave several examples of where user research had informed and improved design at Philips, Google and the BBC.

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January 19, 2011

Why comment spam still exists - and why I'll stay 'dofollow'

If you've been running a blog for any length of time, you'll be sure to have come across the phenomena of comment spam. People pimping sex products and pr0n are easy to spot, but there is a whole breed of spammer out there who are rather more subtle. They particularly target blogs which allow them to post links which aren't marked as 'nofollow', making them valuable in the eyes of search engines.

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January 18, 2011

Is Google the real key to Wikipedia's success?

The Internet has been celebrating the 10th anniversary of Wikipedia, which is held up as the poster child of crowd-sourcing and the proof of the existence of what Clay Shirky calls the 'cognitive surplus' that the web enables us to harness. I do wonder, though, whether Google gets enough credit for the success of Wikipedia.

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August 16, 2010

"How soon is now?" - Google Wave and live reporting

Google Wave promised journalists the possibility of collaboration and live publishing that was both real-time and permanent. With the recent announcement that Google is no longer supporting the product, what lessons can be learned about the merits of a real-time publishing tool.

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August 12, 2010

5 things the news industry can learn from Google Wave

The demise of Google Wave has been much publicised, and widely described as yet another failure by Google to 'get' the social web. I think there are some valuable lessons for the news industry from the way that Wave was developed, launched and died. And I promise not to include a single predictable pun...

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July 30, 2010

EuroIA 2010 update

This year's EuroIA conference in Paris is getting closer, and registrations have now opened. There are early bird discounts available until August 6th, and Eric Reiss tells us that uptake is 100% up on this time last year. Space is limited, so I urge you get registered soon.

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July 16, 2010

Nic Newman, Emily Bell and Peter Barron discuss "#UKelection2010, mainstream media and the role of the internet"

This week Google in London hosted the launch of a study paper by ex-BBC News strategist and journalist Nic Newman entitled "#UKelection2010, mainstream media and the role of the internet: how social and digital media affected the business of politics and journalism". As well as NIc, the evening featured Emily Bell and Peter Barron discussing the findings of the report.

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May 24, 2010

Google Diversity Grant places up for grabs at EuroIA

Google are offering two free places for female computer scientists at this year's EuroIA Summit in Paris. Here are details of how to apply.

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February 27, 2010

The Sun relying on 'copyright thieves' Google and Yahoo! for their Wrightys XI campaign

Despite Murdoch's stance that search engines steal his newspaper's content, The Sun are using search keywords as the main marketing thrust for their 2010 FIFA World Cup competition.

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January 5, 2010

Evening Standard fails African Cup Of Nations geography test

Whilst the Evening Standard gets confused about whether the African Cup Of Nations is being held in Angola or Ghana, The Guardian is making available an open public sporting events calendar which knows for sure.

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December 17, 2009

Google Chrome - now with added Mariah Carey

Google have recently put together a huge marketing push for their Chrome browser - but should they be making more of the fact that it comes with an optional Mariah Carey theme?

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November 26, 2009

Google's recursive lunar image swirls

Google Image Search has been in the news this week for all the wrong reasons, but I've been concentrating on playing with a Labs version of Image Search - Google Image Swirl. It is an interesting variation on the usual grid view that has become the industry standard. I'm not sure that I'd use it exclusively, for a start the data indexed is limited, but it does give you a different way of researching images. And you can generate some...
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November 2, 2009

Carbon, clippings and checking out Wave - more cool stuff on

Last week, when I was writing about the Jane Bown interactive gallery on The Guardian site, I mentioned that there were several other things done recently that had really impressed me. In no particular order, and stressing again that these have been nothing to do with me, here are another three things that stood out over the last few weeks. Quick carbon calculator I remember a conversation I had a while back with Simon Willison where he was explaining the...
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October 27, 2009

Paid search and politics - still some learning for the parties to do

A couple of days ago Peter Moore wrote an interesting post about politics and paid search, pointing out how Channel 4 had used Google AdWords to catch some of the search traffic generated by the BNP appearance on BBC's Question Time. He pointed out that: "Paid search has the potential to make an enormous difference [in an election]...It’s possible to carefully study and collect keywords, to manage and monitor huge campaigns that include short and long tail terms as well...
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September 30, 2009

Google ads battleground between The Sun and Labour

Labour vs The Sun on Google
Google Ads drag the Hillsborough disaster into the recent spat between the party and the newspaper

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September 14, 2009

English Defence League advertises Muslim dating agency on their forum

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words - one of the best 'When Google Ads go bad' I've seen in a while......
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August 4, 2009

"Graceful Hacks" - UX, IA and interaction design tips for hack days

"Graceful Hacks"
UX, IA and interaction design tips for hack days

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July 31, 2009

Social media unplugged: Part 4 - Google Bookmarks, Fark and Mixx

During the course of this week I've been studying the user experience when you encounter social bookmarking services for the first time. This has varied greatly, from something like Yahoo! Buzz with a comprehensive registration process which ends up asking you to confirm your 'buzz up' for the article that started your journey, to Newsvine, which just seems to throw up a browser security error if you are not logged in. In today's final part I'll be looking at Google...
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July 9, 2009

Michael Jackson and search at The Guardian

With the memorial service over, it looks like we'll now gradually see diminishing amounts of column inches devoted to Michael Jackson. I wanted thought to put down some of my thoughts about what the reaction to his death tells us about search on the Internet, and on news sites. There were a lot of articles looking at the reaction of search engines to the news. This is always one of the cases that fascinates me about the whole problem of...
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July 8, 2009

Activate 09 at The Guardian: Notes and take-away quotes - Part 4

This time last week I was gearing up to attend The Guardian's first Activate summit at Kings Place. I've blogged about Gerry Jackson's heart-breaking mission to get independent news into Zimbabwe, Nick Bostrom's presentation about 'the end of the world', a politics panel featuring Tom Watson and Adam Afriyie, and the thread of data release and story-telling that ran through the day. I wanted to conclude with a final set of observations about what had caught my eye, made...
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June 2, 2009

A Google-eye view of the European Elections

A lot of people do their primary research these days using Google as their only gateway to the Internet, and I wondered what they would be finding if they were looking for information on the parties standing for Thursday's European Elections in London. The mainstream parties All of the mainstream party listings in Google are pretty similar. The initial homepage metadata in all cases stresses the name of the party leader. Who says personality politics is dead? The second...
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April 12, 2009

Tracking the "Credit Crunch" with Google Street View: Crouch End

Yesterday I posted some comparison photos between Muswell Hill now, and Muswell Hill when the Google Street View cars visited, to illustrate how the "Credit Crunch" had been affecting local businesses. Actually, there only appeared to be three casualties - The Fine Burger Co., A-1 Wines, and Woolworths. In Crouch End, it was a different story. The biggest closure again appears to be Woolworths, which occupied a big store near the Henry Reader Williams memorial Clock Tower. You'll also spot...
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April 11, 2009

Tracking the "Credit Crunch" with Google Street View: Muswell Hill

Tracking the "Credit Crunch" with Google Street View
Comparing recent pictures of shops in Muswell Hill and Crouch End with how they appeared when the Google cameras were in town

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April 9, 2009

When RSS ads go bad...

One of the risks of context-driven text advertising is that occasionally there will be some uncomfortable juxtapositions of editorial content and advertising. It happens on currybetdotnet from time to time. I particularly recall Google deciding that one of my lengthy pieces about working in a record shop and collecting records suited adverts saying "Do you need help with your autistic child", which I took slightly personally. It can be even worse when the adverts are being served in an RSS...
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March 27, 2009

Press silence on Alfie Patten DNA test result broken by Google News

Yesterday, The Mirror was reporting a further development in the story of the 13 year old boy named as a father. The initial coverage of this story was a significant factor in boosting The Sun from #5 to #1 in the UK newspaper online charts. Today, The Mirror has pulled the story from their site. It is an interesting test case of whether legal deletions should also cover SEO-orientated keyword stuffed URLs. They might have pulled the story, but I...
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March 21, 2009

London's abandoned Underground Stations on Google Street View

Abandoned Tube Stations on Street View
Peek at the disused bits of London's Underground that you can see overground using Google Street View

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March 10, 2009

Guardian Open Platform launch trends on Twitter

I'll have more comment about The Guardian's Open Platform launch in due course, but it was very nice to see that despite another incidence of #gfail stealing some of the thunder, both Guardian and Open Platform were trending on Twitter search during this morning's announcement....
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February 24, 2009

How to turn Google's Gmail failure into an opportunity to make money

Some smart AdWords buying in the wake of today's widespread Gmail outage. A couple of firms have booked adverts against people using 'gmail' as their search term. are advertising their reliable email hosting, whilst are urging you, without email, to take a break and go and do something less boring instead. Smart work from their respective creative teams....
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January 31, 2009

Google thinks Google may harm your computer

I think Google's malware detection algorithm has gone a bit wrong this afternoon. It doesn't seem to matter what I search for - The Telegraph, the BBC, even 'currybet' - Google is delivering the damning "This site may harm your computer" verdict. Even, in fact, when you search for Google itself......
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January 26, 2009

Is 'Search online for "Act on CO2"' costing the taxpayer unnecessary pay-per-click money?

Tamlyn posted late last week after spotting that the Government's 'Act on CO2' campaign was asking people to search for the term rather than publishing a URL. It is a trend that Cabel Sasser noted is well established in Japan, where the fact that URLs have to be formatted in the Western alphabet is a significant marketing challenge. The trouble with the Government initiative is that once you announce that you are asking people to search for specific non-trademarked terms,...
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January 13, 2009

'Nofollow' and Twitter's crisis of trust

A couple of weeks back, @onpause and I were discussing on Twitter whether URL-shortening had any impact on the value that Twitter links passed on through to Google. I was pointing out that, sadly, Twitter is one of those places where the use of rel="nofollow" on all outbound links has rendered it virtually worthless for search engine purposes. I got halfway through writing a blog post about why this was a shame, when suddenly Twitter seems to have become consumed...
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January 11, 2009

Local search: Seeing the UK's regional press through the eyes of Google

I've been writing a series of posts looking at site search across some of the UK's leading regional papers. Yesterday I published a table of their features. In this last part of the series, I want to take a slightly different approach. I'm looking not at how people can search for content on the sites themselves, but how the sites appear when people search for them in Google. Google 'Search-in-search' Norfolk's Eastern Daily Press site was the only site...
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December 28, 2008

"Darwin: Big idea, big exhibition" at the Natural History Museum

In the run up to Christmas, I took some time out to go to the "Darwin: Big idea, big exhibition" show at the Natural History Museum in London. I was very impressed with it, and came away having learnt quite a few new things about both Charles Darwin the man, and the science behind the theory of evolution. From the human point of view, I hadn't realised that as well as noting in meticulous detail the flora and fauna he...
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December 14, 2008

Chipwrapper now available with time-slices

I can officially announce that the Russell Brand furore is over for the British press. Well, nearly. In the last week the national papers only managed to publish 270-odd stories to mention the ex-BBC comedian. At the height of the scandal, between them, they managed to churn out something like 440 articles a week referencing him. How do I know these figures? Well, not because I've counted them, that's for sure. Instead I've been using Chipwrapper's new time-slicing feature. Ever...
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December 13, 2008

Thoughts, notes and quotes from the Online Information 2008 Seminars: Part 4

This is the last of four posts gathering together my thoughts, notes and the top quotes from this year's Online Information seminars at Olympia. Today I'm posting about what I saw there, mostly around the topic of content publishing, from the 14th century to the 21st... "Turning the pages - Bringing the world's most treasured books to life through technology" by Barry Smith This presentation from the British Library was a case study into their online digitisation project "Turning...
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December 8, 2008

Local RSS: Google Reader subscriber numbers for the UK's top regional papers

A couple of weeks ago I published a list of the Top 75 British Newspaper RSS feeds in Google Reader. Since I've been looking at the RSS feeds published by the UK's top 20 regional papers, so I thought I'd make a note of their subscriber numbers as well. The table below plots the popularity of the main RSS feed from each paper's website in Google Reader. There are two things of particular note. Firstly, the number of subscribers...
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December 4, 2008

Reactions to my post on the Mumbai terrorist attack search engine response

There was quite a bit of interest in my post last week about search engine response to the Mumbai terror attacks. A couple of the comments left here disagreed with my premise. Matthew Cain made the point that it would be no help to Mumbai's recovery from the attacks to have search engine users constantly reminded of the events. He posted about it over on his BacAtU blog, and I left the following comment there: "Yes, I do see your...
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December 1, 2008

5 essential Google Labs features to improve your Google Mail experience

A little while ago, Google launched "Mail Goggles" as a Google Mail Labs feature, which generated lots of press and blog exposure for the fact that you could modify your Google Mail interface using Google Labs products. I thought it might be worth taking a look through to see what were they really useful Google Labs extras you could add to Gmail. Here are 5 Google Mail Labs features that I've got enabled. Forgotten Attachment Detector Everybody who has ever...
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November 28, 2008

Top 75 British newspaper RSS feeds in Google Reader

Hooray - some good figures for the newspaper industry for a change! This time last year I made a list of the 100 most popular British newspaper feeds in Google Reader, and I thought it was worth updating the figures. The headline is that the number of RSS subscribers to the popular newspaper content has pretty much doubled. Last year, the top 75 feeds added up to represent 249,269 subscriptions. This time around the top 75 accounts for 488,828 subscriptions....
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November 26, 2008

Mumbai terrorist attacks show that search engines still can't get breaking news right

We are used to hearing that search engines are one of the primary routes that people find news on the net, but I've just been having a scout around the three major search engines as news of the terrorist attack in Mumbai unfolds, and I have to say that they are not performing very well. Google does have some news results inserted into the one word search for 'mumbai', but they are not in the top slot. Searching for 'india'...
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November 14, 2008

8 Search APIs for Hack Days

I spent most of yesterday at The Guardian's first ever internal Hack Day. I gave one of the short five minute 'lightning' talks that got the event kicked off. I wanted to outline a few of the search related APIs out there that might prove useful as people put their hacks together. Here's the written down version... Google AJAX Search API I'll start with the big one - the Google AJAX Search API. This lets you put Google Search in...
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November 13, 2008

Taking the 'Ooh' out of Google: Getting site search right - Part 9

I've been writing a series of posts about getting site search right based on my presentation at the Euro IA Summit in Amsterdam this year In the last part I started looking at some examples where search user experience goes wrong. In order to entice the masses away from Google, a site search needs to be on the top of its game, and avoid things like intrusive adverts, opening unnecessary new windows, and providing an inconsistent experience. Another sure...
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November 12, 2008

Taking the 'Ooh' out of Google: Getting site search right - Part 8

A couple of weeks back I began a series of articles on currybetdotnet based upon my recent talk at the Euro IA Summit. As well as looking at ways that site search can be made distinctive from Google by including thumbnails and information Google can't obtain, 'advanced' search, and following some positive European examples, I've been looking at areas of the user experience where designers need to show caution. Today I want to start looking at some examples of...
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November 11, 2008

Taking the 'Ooh' out of Google: Getting site search right - Part 7

Over the last couple of weeks I've been publishing a series of posts based on an expanded version of the presentation I gave at the 2008 Euro IA Summit in Amsterdam at the end of September. There, I was talking about "Taking the 'Ooh' out of Google", and getting site search right for news. I've looked at ways that site search can be made distinctive from Google by including thumbnail images, information Google can't obtain, providing usable 'advanced' search,...
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October 7, 2008

US newspapers in the Google time tunnel: Part 1

Yesterday I published some screenshots of the 2001 versions of UK newspaper websites, as linked to by Google's newly re-available 2001 index. At the same time as doing my research on UK newspaper success with social media, I was also looking at the social media success of a range of US newspapers. I thought it might be fun to peer back through the Google time tunnel and see how 25 American newspapers looked and ranked online in 2001. Arizona Republic...
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October 6, 2008

UK newspapers in the Google time tunnel

With everyone keenly paging through Google's 2001 search index, I thought it might be interesting to see how our British national newspapers were faring on Google back at the turn of the decade, and how their sites are represented in the Internet Archive. Daily Express Searching for the Daily Express in 2001 turned up at number 3 on Google. The homepage that Google links to shows that the attention of the Express was firmly turned to the Sarah Payne...
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September 29, 2008

Goodbye Google Eye

"Oh goodbye google eye... Goodbye goodbye goodbye google eye" No, not a reaction to news that Google's Street View Spycams have been banished from Britain, but a chunk of lyrics from a 1960s hit called "Google Eye" that I stumbled upon the other day. Written by John D. Loudermilk it was recorded in the UK by The Nashville Teens, and came out in 1964 on the Decca label, catalogue number F12000. The song is about search in a roundabout way...
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September 7, 2008

Google error reports - non-geeks need not apply!

I got a '502 Server Error' page when using Google search the other day. After about five minutes of running around like a headless chicken screaming at the top of my voice "OMG! THERE IS NO GOOGLE! WTF! THE INTERWEBZ IS BROKEN!" I actually read the message, and it gave me a good chuckle. I've got this mental image of someone from Google's PR / customer service / marketing department very earnestly sitting down and talking to the engineers and...
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September 3, 2008

Mac users very unwelcome at the Google Chrome download party

The blogosphere is awash with early reviews of Google's Chrome browser, but, as a Mac user, I've been struggling to get hold of it - and not just because the Mac version is still under development. Initially, Google detected that I am in Greece, and so presented me a Greek welcome page for the Chrome download - full marks there for product localisation at launch. However, once I switched to English I found that Google had also detected I was...
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July 3, 2008

Google Street View spycams spotted in Walthamstow

I was hanging out in Stoke Newington the other day and wound up in a little Turkish cafe called 'The Dervish' - presumably, I'll have to ask forgiveness when I re-enter Greece. I spotted something that I hadn't noticed before - in the window, underneath a tattered old London Olympic bid sticker, was a sticker boasting that the business was listed in Google Maps. Once I'd spotted one, I started seeing them cropping up all over the place. And I...
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June 22, 2008

More thoughts on Google's sitelinks algorithm

I was writing yesterday about Google's choice of sitelinks for a domain name, and I was speculating, based on the evidence of the links they list for currybetdotnet, that there may be some hand-editing involved. What got me started on this train of thought was an article by Ann Smarty on Search Engine Journal. She suggested six factors that make up the 'sitelinks algorithm'. Surfers oriented Domain-authority oriented Internal-architecture oriented On-page SEO oriented Brand-strength oriented Competition oriented One of the...
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