Archive for the ‘Search Engines’ Category

Google’s Earth Art Logo

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Google Israel has a logo for celebrating Tu Bishvat. Barry Schwartz explains that the Tu Bishvat (פרוייקט ההר הירוק) holiday is known as the “New Year of the Trees”, and to observe it many people will plant new trees or donate trees in Israel. (The associated Google search for the logo goes to “Green Mountain Project” which is an online photo album allowing people to share past photos of Carmel, which suffered a fire that ruined the trees there.)

What’s particularly interesting to me is that this special logo is based on earth art which is accomplished by people planting crops and arranging earthworks to depict pictures or words:

Google Earth Art Logo

I’ve written about crop art and earth art a number of times before, and you can also see a number of examples, as viewed through Google Maps via my past article on Search Engine Land: 20 Awesome Images Found In Google Maps.

I’m just wondering if the artist that made this Google “Doodle” logo is familiar with earth art or crop art, or whether this was just coincidental use of the earth art motif. (more…)

City Centroids Replaced By Outlines In Google Places

Monday, January 17th, 2011

I’ve often mentioned how Google Maps/Places has used distance from city centroids as a major ranking factor. Indeed, Google still mentions how distance is a local ranking factor (most recently they stated this in a LatLong blog post on how local search ranking works).

However, there is some compelling evidence to show that they’ve become more sophisticated than they were earlier after Google Maps was born. I believe they’re increasingly using city and ZIP code region outlines when determining the local relevancy for businesses.

First of all, Google’s introduction of Service Areas this past year demonstrates very obviously that they’re incorporating city and ZIP region outlines with local business data. In addition to being able to specify the more traditional radius from a centroid, the tools within Google Places allow you to specify specific cities and ZIP codes as service areas, and their map indicates a rough polygon outline of selected regions. David Mihm first pointed this out to me last year, and you can see it for this example of a business which offers service to the Fort Worth area:

Google Places Service Area Polygon Outline

You can also get a business’s service area to show up outside of the Google Places administrative interfaces, in the Map interface itself, by clicking on “Show service area”: (more…)

Happy New Year’s Day 2011!

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

Google’s “doodle” logo for New Year’s Day today has the “OOGL” of the logo replaced with Roman numerals for two-thousand-and-eleven, and the background of it is full of fireworks going off:

Google New Year's Day Logo, January 1, 2011

Though not as well known, the letter “G” was also used as a shorthand Roman numeral in the Middle Ages to represent four-hundred, and the uppercase “E” was used to denote two-hundred-fifty. If we included these two numbers, the sequence might be read as 2011 – 400 + 250 = 1861. (more…)

New Years Wish: That Google Would Publish Usability Research

Monday, December 27th, 2010

Google sits upon a simply huge amount of usability data, and I think it could benefit a lot of webmasters if they were to publish it. My New Years Wish is that they might begin to periodically release some of the tantalizing tidbits they may have.

Google frequently will recommend best practices to webmasters, based upon their internal research, particularly in cases where that information might be mutually helpful to websites and endusers. For instance, Google’s Browser Size is a very handy tool which shows you graphically what percentages of online users are likely to be able to see areas on your webpage when they initially land upon it, without scrolling.

Computer Mouse, Mousepad & Hand

Here’s a small handful of usability-related stats I’d like to see them publish:
 

  • Does Google Suggest help improve spelling of searchers?
  • Did introduction of Google Suggest increase or decrease the numbers of searches?
  • Does addition of the date to the listing snippet improve CTR evenly, or do entries with older dates get clicked upon less? (more…)

Google Maps Shocks Fat Man Into Diet

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Ok, this may be a first – Google Maps has now inspired a man in the U.K. to diet and get fit after he saw an image of himself in Google Street View:

Fat Man Captured In Google Maps

Bob Mewse saw himself in Google Maps’ interface, and said he was “stunned” at his side view saying, “I was massive. My belly was sticking out and I looked huge.”

He was inspired to lose the weight, so he started dieting and exercising, eventually losing roughly 98 pounds (7 stone)!

Street View and the Street View photo car have been magnets for criticism and privacy complaints. In this case, it seems that it has been the catalyst for someone to adopt a self-improvement regimen.

Google Deploys Recommendation Engine With Hotpot

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Yesterday evening, Google announced their new service, Hotpot, a mashup that combines social media with local info and check-in services. This marks yet another surge forward in the local arena that Google has made recently, along with the deployment of Google Place Search, launch of Google Tags and Boost ads, and more.

I haven’t kicked the tires yet on Hotpot via mobile, but I can see the services it offers via web:

Google Hotpot

Hotpot encourages you to rate businesses, and connect with your friends to get recommendations for places to try out.

While the service appears fairly robust and graphically well-designed, it’s unclear to me so far just how much traction it may get. (more…)

Sea Change: Google’s New Place Search Introduces New Disruption

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

So, today Google began launching their new “Place Search” feature, as reported by Greg Sterling. For those of us keeping a finger on the pulse of local search marketing, the change was not a huge surprise, since we’ve been watching the testing for quite a while and could predict in advance that it might impact some online directories and small-to-medium businesses negatively.

Place Search is Google’s name for the new interface and layout of local search listings within their regular keyword search results page. If you haven’t seen this yet, here’s a screengrab for “florists, los angeles, ca”:

Google Place Search - new local search layout

As you can see, the change involves the map moving into the right sidebar. The top local business listings which accompany the map are no longer to the right of the map, but are now integrated into the search results page and occupy roughly the same amount of room as the other listings. Those business listings which coordinate with the map have a lettered pink pushpin icon and some have thumbnail icons which come from their Place Page information. The big impact of the change is that these listings are now (more…)

Google Tags: No Website For You!

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Google’s phasing out site link option from Tag Ads – just nine months after introducing the Tag ads for Maps and local search, Google has apparently decided to do away with the option to link your Tag directly to your website. One of my contacts sent this screengrab to me showing within Google Places they are now being asked to switch to a different ad type:

Google Tags Phases Out Website Option

If you currently have a Tag Ad linked to your site, I’d guess that you have until the end of whatever time you’ve contracted before you’ll be forced to switch to a different option.

The folks who sent this to me supposed that this was being done in sync with the recent announcement of a new ad type, Google Boost. However, that doesn’t entirely explain why the rapid switcharoo.

Here’s my guess – I think there were two main reasons the website option is being phased out. (more…)

Google’s Happy Birthday Logo

Monday, September 27th, 2010

One of Wayne Thiebaud’s paintings inspired Google’s 12th birthday logo – a birthday cake with one candle taking the place of their logo.

Google's 12th Birthday Logo by Wayne Thiebaud

I like the painting – it’s an example of a great colorist’s artwork. Thiebaud is known for paintings of cakes, and is considered a Pop Artist due to his subject matter. However, the heavy pigment intensity in his work shows a dedication to colorism — intensification of hues to provide a richly experiential moment in the viewing.

It’s a less whimsical logo treatment than we’ve often seen in the past, though Google is experimenting on multiple different styles for commemorative logos.

Monkey See, Monkey Do: Yahoo SearchMonkey Absorbing Into Bing

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Yahoo! SearchMonkeyYahoo notified me a few days ago in an email that their SearchMonkey program is about to undergo a change, with their developer tools, gallery and application preferences set to close down on October 1st.

I wrote a few of the 163 search applications which were officially approved for the gallery:

Yahoo SearchMonkey App for L.L.Bean

Nostalgically, I’m bummed that the application development tools and gallery are going away. The Yahoo! team’s concept of enabling webmasters to have some say in custom-designing their own listings’ appearance in the search results was visionary. Marketers salivated at the prospect, and literally hundreds of people approached them in hopes of getting more influence over the search listings.

Indeed, the enhanced search result listings reportedly got around a 15% higher clickthrough rate, verifying many marketer’s theories that the jazzier listings would attract more attention from searchers, resulting in more conversion activities. (more…)