Category Archives: Search

Doubleclick acquired by Google

Wow, that’s what I call a major acquisition in advertising world: Google has bought DoubleClick for $3.1 billion (in cash). That’s 10x the yearly revenue of DoubleClick! This has just been confirmed on the Google blog.

This is immediatly the biggest acquisition of Google (almost twice as much as they paid for YouTube). What could be the reason? I quote from the Google Blog:

This new partnership represents a tremendous opportunity for us at Google to broaden and deepen our inventory of available ads and to better serve both our publishers and users. Together, Google and DoubleClick will empower agencies, advertisers, and publishers to collaborate more efficiently and effectively, which will, in turn, provide a better experience for our users.

Personally, I think the acquistion mainly comes from a strategic point of view. Google must have been really frightened that Microsoft would gain a big marketshare by buying DoubleClick (they obviously outbidded MS).

I wonder how this will influence the current adsense / adwords platform. Google will now also have access to DoubleClicks customers, will we see higher or lower CPC’s?

Check your backlinks with Google Webmaster Tools

Wow, Google seems to understand that the opinion of webmasters does matter! As of today, it is finally possible to retrieve a nice list of urls that are linking to your site.

Many of you will probably know that the ‘’ command in Google doesn’t really do what it’s supposed to do. According to Matt Cutts this is mainly caused by technical limitations. Personally, I think that it might have some other reasons as well. Well, it’s still broken, but now Google allows you to see a much larger spectrum of backlinks to your site when you use their Webmaster Tools.

I’ve just checked out this new feature, must say that I like it! My first observations:

– Google apparently indexes links within PDF-files, these are reported as inlinks
– Webmaster Tools offers the possibility to export your inlinks as a spreadsheet, nice!
– The new tool also lists nofollow links, what does that tell us about the Google-interpretation of rel=’nofollow’?

How Yahoo, Microsoft and Google fight for your browser settings

google yahoo msnIn this post of Andy Beal, Yahoo is being accused of dirty tactics to switch the default search provider when people install a new version of Yahoo Messenger. I totally agree that Yahoo is not behaving very well here, but hey… all the big search engines do exactly the same! So why would we point the finger at Yahoo?

Don’t get me wrong here, I absolute hate the software installers that are messing up my preferences in their own advantage (it should be forbidden). But ever looked at the installer of MSN messenger? It tries to modify your default homepage, seachprovider etc. And Google Desktop? Exactly the same. A recent version of the Java Runtime Environment even comes accompanied with the Google Toolbar.

I think that we can conclude that the big battle has started. It’s commenly known that most internet-users are not very loyal to a brand or product. When something better shows up, the switch is easily made. That’s exactly why the big players are now trying to be present in your every-day-live (since that’s something you won’t put away that easy). Messengers, Desktop search, toolbars and free email accounts are perfect examples. I think that most people don’t even realise that the above is happening, which is good.

There is however only one place where the big money is made: on the resultpage of the search engines. If you are a search engine, you want as much people as possible searching with you. In my opinion, there is only one good way to achieve this: just be the best and become even better. People will continue searching with the search engine that made them find what they were looking for. The big three (Google, Yahoo and Microsoft) however think that it is necessary to push people in the ‘right direction’ by changing some of their preferences. Wrong. If I did not explicitly asked Google, Yahoo or Microsoft to be my default search engine, then I don’t want them to suddenly show up when I perform my next search. And if they do, I get annoyed. You know what happens when I get annoyed about a particular product? I throw it away a get another one.

Keeping the above in mind, Google and Microsoft must be absolutely delighted about the rumor that the Yahoo installer caused. It made Yahoo look unreliable. I’m not really feeling sorry for Yahoo but I don’t think it’s fare to only point our fingers at them. It’s a good development that people are made aware of the tactics that these companies use, hopefully the next Google installer will cause an evenly amount of discussion.

Google’s pagerank: why all the excitement?

It often surprises me how much excitement a pagerank update still causes. The start of an update is always directly followed by an enormous amount of blog and forum posts. Not to speak about the number of people who are immediatly stress-testing the online Pagerank tools. So, I think it is about time to clear some things up. To start with, Google has changed quite a bit in the last couple of years:

  • Previously Google updated the index on a monthly basis. This caused fluctuating results as Google was updating the various servers one by one. The updates where soon called the Google Dance by the webmaster community. Currently Google continuously updates its index while crawling the web. In other words, there is no monthly Google Dance anymore.
  • Every two to three months people start talking about a pagerank update which should be taking place. Well, in fact pagerank is updated continuously as well. Google only exports the pagerank values to the datacenters which are used by the Google toolbar every couple of months. That’s when you see new pagerank values in the toolbar. This will however not influence the ranking, not even a tiny bit.

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Exalead launches enhanced website

ExaleadExalead has just launched a new version of their search engine on
I was one of the lucky who was given the opportunity to test the beta version of this release and I am quite impressed. I think they did a great job on the user interface and untill now I’m pretty satisfied with the quality of the search results as well. So, maybe exalead will offer some serious competition for Google.

The improvements basically come down to:
– entirely redesigned user-interface (I personally like the approach to advanced search)
– bigger index (growing to 8 billion pages)
– ability to personalize the homepage

Another feature of exalead that isn’t completely new but what does distinguish them from other search engines like Google and Yahoo is the possibility to choose between three views for the resultpage:
1. text only
2. text and thumbnails (like ask’s binoculars)
3. text, thumbnails and extra info (directory and RSS information)

People who like to use advanced search options should definitively check out Exalead’s advanced features. Proximity search, phonetic search and logical expressions are just a few. I must admit that most users won’t take advantage of these features but it’s very powerful for those who do.

I think Exalead has the potential to become a bigger player in the international search market. Should Google fear them? Time will tell.

Google has officially bought YouTube!

GoogtubeIt’s official now! Google has bought YouTube for $1.65 billion (in stock)!

This is definitively the biggest and probably the most important acquirement in the (young) history of Google. It is now Googles turn to show how they will make YouTube profitable.
See Google’s press releases here or here.

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Matt answers some questions about pagerank

If you are a SEO man (or woman), interested in search engine technology and thus the mechanism behind Google’s pagerank, you should check out the blog of Matt Cutts on a regular basis. As many know, Matt works at Google and often has something interesting to tell us.

In this post, Matt answers some questions about pagerank. I made the following selection of answers that I found interesting:

Will the data centers using the slightly older infrastructure be updated in due course, or will my PR be split by data center for the next couple of months?

The latter. I think most data centers are running the newer infrastructure for things like info:, related:, link: and PageRank, and I believe every data center that has that newer infrastructure has the recent snapshot of PageRank now. I wouldn’t be surprised if it took at least 1-2 months for the other data center IPs to get the newer infrastructure in some way. (Yes, this is smaller, different infrastructure than the stuff that made site: queries have more accurate results estimates.)

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Check which pages are in Google’s supplemental index

Just found a way to check which pages of a website are in Google’s supplemental index. Might be handy because if your pages are in the supplemental index, that explains why that don’t show up in the normal results.

For example, see how many pages of are in the supplemental index:***

So, how does it work? Just perform this query: ” *** “

Phishing sites blacklisted by Google

Interesting post over at Google blogoscoped, people have found a blacklist and a whitelist which is probably used for Google’s ‘safe browsing’ functionality. All that time I was thinking that Google had this ‘smart discovery’ for phishing sites, now it turns out that it is just a good old blacklist!

Oh, but wait, the fact that they also need a whitelist must mean that they do use some auto-discovery. Apparently it works a bit too well occasionaly, so they included a whitelist for sites that are known to be safe. Still interesting though.

Update: more about the lists can be read at the mozilla wiki, might be handy if you plan to use the lists in your own application.

Business sells better than sex

According to australian research, sex and pornography are no longer the most popular search topics on the web. Professor Amanda Spinks from Queensland University of Technology’s says that business and commerce-related topics, including buying and selling on the net, are currently more popular than sex.

The research was performed in collaboration with Pennsylvania State University, together they analysed up to 30 million search sessions from search engines including Alta Vista,,, Excite and Dogpile. Apparently they didn’t make use of AOL’s logfiles that were are available online.

A few explanations that Prof. Spinks has:
– “More women are searching the web. Back in the 90s, it was probably young male geeks, but now the demographics are changing with mums and dads, kids, grandmas and business people all searching the web.”

– “The general population is searching now compared to the male set in the 90s.”

– “Back in the 90s, there wasn’t as much business information on the web.”

To be honest, I’m not really convinced. I would love to read a more detailed paper about how the research was performed. Looking at the statistics of one of the major Dutch search engines (where I happen to work at), I can only draw the conclusion that sex does still dominate the search topics.