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Google Adsense for Dormant Domains

Tamar @ Search Engine Roundtable reported that Google has expanded their Adsense for Domains to all publishers.

What is Adsense for Domains?

Adsense for domains is a way for you to show Google adsense ads in your dormant domains. (Domains that are currently not in use). So this service is simmilar to the “paid parking” service that you are probably familiar of. Adsense for domains was available to selected adsense publisher for quite some time, but it seems like Google has decided to open it up everyone.

What is My Take on Adsense for Domains?

  • If you are a Publisher, you can by all means try it out and go for it. So If you got 1000 dormant domains, go ahead and install Adsense for domains on each of them…Pollute the web even more. (I’m assuming Google is going to index all of your sites because thats how they are supposed to make money right?).
  • If you are an Advertisers, Bad news for you! If you are currently bidding on the content networks, Google has not provided any option yet to opt-out from your ads showing in those low-quality dormant domains. So you might end up spending a lot more on Adwords Content Network for poor / low quality traffic that might not convert for you. (Not everyone is as lucky as Efficient Frontier)
  • Google has strict policy about displaying advertisements on pages that doesn’t have any content. From Google’s Adsense TOS:

    – No Google ad may be placed on any non-content-based pages.

    – No Google ad may be placed on pages published specifically for the purpose of showing ads, whether or not the page content is relevant.

    Now my question is, if they can allow running ads on dormant domains (which has no content, btw), why wouldn’t they allow running adsense ads on non-content based pages. Aren’t they just contradicting themselves?

  • Google always talks about “search quality” and “user experience”. Now I certainly don’t see parked pages being indexed & possibly ranked in Google to help in any of those. If the domain is undeveloped how / why would users even look for ‘relevant information’ there and why would it be even included in the Google Index? (To fool user in clicking those ads…?)

Is Whats up with Google? Are they becoming too Selfish & Commercial? Share your views in comments!

Update: Techcrunch points to this Guide – which basically shows you how an advertiser can block Domain Parked Sites in Google AdWords.

WordPress 2.7 Coltrane is Out

Download WordPress 2.7WordPress has just made the official launch of WordPress 2.7 Coltrane. (Download it Now!).

WordPress 2.7 provides an interface that is amazingly flexible – As a user you will have the ultimate control over the way you want to arrange things. You can simply drag & drop items in your dashboard arrange them in any order you want.

The new release also offers features that users have been requesting for a long time. Some of them includes – “sticky posts” – posts that can remain stuck on your blog as the first post even though additional posts are published after that. (This is a useful feature if you are using your wordpress blog more like a CMS than just a blog). Now wordpress users have the ability to do more from the dashboard – users can write quick posts, moderate comments, access drafts and many more.

Watch the following video to find out whats new in WordPress 2.7 –

Google Toolbar PageRank Update Coming Soon

Some Webmasters at DigitalPoint Forums have noticed changes in their Google Toolbar PageRank recently.

Even though majority of them are yet to see any change, but all of them seem to agree that they are also seeing changes in their incoming links that is displayed by Google using the “link:domain.com” command.

My Two Cents

The last Toolbar PR update was two months back, so the PR update is well over due. Its likely that Google will be slowing rolling out the update througout this month. Stay tuned for more updates!

Send SMS from Gmail

Send SMS From Gmail Right after Gmail launched their Task Manager, they have released yet another cool feature in Gmail LabsSMS from Gmail Chat!

This brand new Gmail Labs feature Labs lets you send Text SMS right from Gmail Inbox. It combines the best parts of IM and texting: you chat from the comfort of your computer, and your friends can peck out the replies on their little mobile keyboards.

How to Send SMS from Gmail

First Log in to your Gmail Account, click on Settings, and go to the Labs tab. Scroll down until you see “Text Messaging (SMS) in Chat” and select Enable and Save Changes.

To send an SMS, You can simply type a US-phone number or into the search box in the chat window on the left, then select “Send SMS.” You can also select the contact you want to SMS first and then add their phone number.

Send SMS from Gmail

Once you give us a name for that phone number, you’ll be able to start chatting.

More Details are here and here.

Obama’s Change.gov is using Google Moderator

President Elect Barack Obama’s site Change.gov has added a new way for citizens to ask questions to the Obama Administration and vote up/down each questions asked using the Google Moderator tool which was released to the public earlier this year.

Thats not all, Barack Obama is also using Google owned Youtube, for delivering his weekly addresses to the people.

Looks like Google is pretty favored by the president to be!

[Google Blogoscoped]

Google Search Wiki to have an Opt-Out Button

Google Search WikiMichael Arrington @ Techcrunch just reported that Google is going to provide a Opt-out button for Google Search Wiki in Quarter 1 of 2009. This is great because users who are not happy with this feature of Google, doesn’t have to rely on 3rd party plugins to disable search wiki.

At the LeWeb conference, Google’s Vice President of Search Product and User Experience – Marissa Mayers told Arrington that Google will eventually use the user data created by actions on Search Wiki to improve Google’s organic Search results.

Google will use the data to at least make obvious changes. An example is if “thousands of people” were to knock a search result off a search page, they’d be likely to make a change.

Top Google Search Phrases of 2008

For the first time, Google has released the top search queries of more than 30 countries via Google’s annual Year-End Zeitgeist.

So here are the Faster Rising Global Search queries of 2008:

  1. sarah palin – Even though Sarah Palin couldn’t win the US Election ’08 with Mccain, it seems like she was the hottest topic in Search.
  2. beijing 2008Beijing 2008 was the second hottest keyword due to the fact that it was the venue of this year’s olympic games.
  3. facebook loginFacebook, the popular social network seems to be very popular among searchers as well.
  4. tuenti – I honestly had no clue about this until I did a google search and figured that Tuenti is a popular social networking website that has been referred to as the “Spanish Facebook“.
  5. heath ledger – The legendary Actor who died in Jan 2008 was always very popular among the female audience. His last movie was a blockbuster hit- Batman: The Dark Knight.
  6. obama Barack Obama is the President-elect of the United States and the first African-American to be elected as a President.
  7. nasza klasaNasza Klasa is a very popular social networking platform for people in Poland.
  8. wer kennt wenwer kennt wen is a very popular social community in Denmark.
  9. euro 2008Euro 2008 is the UEFA European Football Championship, contested by all the European nations. This year it was hosted by Austria and Switzerland in June 2008.
  10. jonas brothers – The Jonas Brothers are an AMA-winning, Grammy-nominated American boy band.

Marissa Mayer, Vice President of Google’s Search Products & User Experience Writes:

It’s because of our inquisitive users that our annual Zeitgeist list is a true reflection of the times, with the billions of Google searches conducted every year lending us insight into our global society.

Zeitgeist is currently available for 30+ of the following countries, and can be accessed here.

My Two Cents

Its really interesting to see that localized / country specific social networking sites are doing really well even though the market often seem to be very saturated. More discussion at Techmeme.

Oxite – Microsoft’s Open Source Blogging Platform

oxite-microsoft-blogging-platform Microsoft have just released an alpha version of its own open source content management system (CMS) platform – Oxite.

What is Oxite?

Oxite is blogging flavored CMS platform that is currently available under the Microsoft Public License. Its target user base is not ‘end users’ but developers who perhaps use Microsoft’s platform to make a custom CMS or a large-scale multi user blog network. So if your small-medium business is looking to build a blog platform or CMS from scratch, your IT team may well consider making Oxite as their base platform.

Features of Oxite

Some of the major features of this new open source CMS are – Gravatars, pingbacks, trackbacks, RSS feeds, commenting, and the MetaWebLog API (which will allow your favorite blogging client to post to your Oxide blog directly).

Downside of Oxite

Oxite is based on ASP.net (Front End) and MS SQL (back end), thus when we are talking about cost of Hosting we are already looking at a major disadvantage. The reason WordPress, Drupal & other CMS are so popular because they are all written in PHP and backed up by mySQL – thus can run on any cheap linux server.

My Two Cents

Well its always great to see any ‘open-source’ product coming out from Microsoft. But Oxite will disappoint a lot of users who doesn’t want the hassle of setting up a windows server and Microsoft SQL Server for running this CMS. But for big companies or start ups who wants to create a multi user blog network, Oxite might just be be an ideal choice.

Channel 9 has a short interview with the developers of Oxite that describes some more of the software’s features and the history of its development.

LeWeb Conference 08 – Watch Free Live Stream

LeWeb Conference 2008 The 5th annual LeWeb Conference 2008 is going on right now LIVE in Paris.

LeWeb is Europe’s largest tech conference, bringing in over 1,600 attendees from 26 countries worldwide. Everybody will be able to follow LeWeb conference live and for free just like every year. The main sessions – the startup competition in the first day and the sessions in the 400 seats second room (on the second day) will be streamed live by LeWeb’s Partner Ustream.

Catch all the action Live Here – LeWeb Conference 2008

Gmail Task Manager

Gmail Logo - Gmail Task ManagerGmail has recently added a cool new feature that will allow you to sort of keep a to-do list inside your Inbox. Currently the feature is available as part of Gmail Labs and Google OS Blog predicts that this will be the most popular experimental feature.

How to Enable Gmail Tasks

Simply login to your Gmail account and head over to Gmail Labs (Settings > Labs ) and there you will be see something like the following –

So simply click on “Enable” and Save your settings and then you are done! Your Inbox will reload and you should be able to see the following link –

How to Use Gmail Tasks

Click on the “Tasks” link and it will load your Gmail Task inside your Inbox.

Now you can start adding your tasks easily by clicking anywhere on the white space inside the task panel. You can also add emails to your to-do list by simply selecting an email and clicking on “Add to Task” from the More Action Menu. Illustration provided below:

Add your Email in Gmail Task

Google Operating System blog shared some useful shortcuts of Gmail Tasks:

  • Open the tasks box by typing g then k if you have keyboard shortcuts enabled.
  • Create a task from an email by pressing Shift+T if you have keyboard shortcuts enabled.
  • Navigate between tasks using the arrows.
  • Delete a task by deleting the text and hitting backspace.
  • Organize your tasks by indenting them — just hit Tab to indent and Shift+Tab to un-indent.
  • Ctrl+Up moves a task up the list and Ctrl+Down move it down.
  • Hit Shift+Enter when in a task to show its details

Read Write Web has done a nice video of Gmail Task in action. So you can have a look at its feature before trying it out yourself. Eric @ Techcrunch also did a write up on Gmail Tasks earlier.

My Two Cents

Certainly this is an awesome inclusion by the Gmail Team. But I’m very disappointed that this Gmail Task can’t stay fixed in my sidebar. I need click on the task link every time I need to open it. Before Gmail Tasks was available I used to be a huge fan of Remember the Milk for Gmail. I think I’ll still continue to use them as it still has a lot more features that Gmail Tasks doesn’t provide yet. But adding emails to to-do-list is something that is new and worth trying out!

Domain Registration Info – Does it have any Impact on Rankings?

Domain Registration and It's Impact on SEOBarry Schwartz @ Search Engine Roundtable, raised a very interesting question that caught my attention this evening. A question that I was meaning to ask you all long time back via a Poll.

But later I did some extensive research on this and got my answer. Do I want to share the info with you? Hell yeah!

So here goes –

I tested this on 3 different domains, all with good organic rankings. Domain 1 has a Private Who is enabled, Domain 2 had its Registration info public and lastly Domain 3 was registered under someone else’s name in Godaddy and that person did a free push to my account which resulted in all the registration info to be changed under my name.

I don’t really wish to go into much details here, but based on my analysis I can say with confidence that –

1. Changing Domain Registration Info won’t usually hurt rankings (with all other variables being equal).

My Analysis: If your Domain Registration Address is in “India”, it might help you to rank well in Google.in. However I believe that Google checks this either periodically (long intervals in between) or it is set during the initial discovery of the website. But of course this is not always the case!

Domain Registration Info doesn’t only include Name/Address but it also includes the Registration & Expiry date of the domain name. Domains that are old (and has ZERO backlinks) tends to do well in competitive market and domains that are registered for a longer period of time is also believed to be rank well in the Engines. If someone registers a site for 10 years, it clearly shows how much dedicated that person is to that website…so its less likely to turn out to be a Spam site. (Makes Sense right?)

So if you can do a smooth transfer without the domain being dropped it is less likely to hurt your rankings and it should hold on to it’s old trustrank & pagerank. However If the domain actually drops, then there is a high chance that the any past authority that the domain may have had will be lost.

2. Moving from Private to Public (or vice-versa) doesn’t make any significant increase/decrease in ranking.

My Analysis: Based on the results it was clear that a Private Whois doesn’t have any direct relation to ranking. But if you have been naughty in ‘past’ and continue to show your true character, it won’t take Google’s Web Spam Team much time to track down all your sites (if you don’t have a Private Whois) and penalize them manually.

3. Sometimes your domain’s WHOIS information doesn’t matter

My Analysis: Majority of the cases that I have personally seen, A Domain’s locality was taken directly from a webmaster’s Google account. When you register for a Google account it sort of automatically sets your Timezone & Country based on your IP address. So if you are from Finland and you have added your website in Google Webmaster Tools or Analytics, in no time Google will start to recognize you as a webmaster from Finland and it will give you higher presidence for searches performed in Finland and other nearby locations. So if Google thinks you are from Finland, your US domain registration info won’t save you. Google Webmaster Tools also has a page where you can geo-target your website as well. But I personally haven’t tried that so I’m not sure whether its effective or not.

So in conclusion I’d say that some of these things are still very unclear as different webmasters tend to come up with their own facts & theory. Whatever I stated above is what I could figure out by doing my own set of testings.

So what do you think? Does changing Domain Registration Info has any impact on rankings? Share in comments.

Google Allows Mobile Ads to Run in Android & iPhone

Official Google Mobile Blog is reporting that, Adwords advertisers can now target their ads to the Mobile users of Android, Iphone or any other mobile devices that support full HTML.

The ads can basically redirect to a desktop landing pages so you don’t need to create individual mobile landing pages or special ads in mobile formats. The ads will have many of the same benefits as Google’s standard mobile ads. For instance it will continue to deliver mobile-specific calls-to-action and reach mobile users that are searching with their phones more than ever — especially during the holiday season.

Watch the following video to learn more about Google Mobile Ads, or read what others have to say.

More discussion at Techmeme.

Freckle – Online Time Tracking Service

freckleThose who are doing freelance work or running a Small Business, its something pretty hard to keep track of your own time. For instance, if you are a programmer and you are working for a lot of clients – you really need to keep track of your time so that you can bill each one of them accordingly. Similarly if you are providing consultation service to a client and also helping him with his website, you really need to keep track of how much time you spend on each of the individual tasks.

Freckle is an awesome web-based time management service that lets you do just that! The best thing that I liked about freckle is its easy to use interface and their thoughtful implementation of Ajax throughout the site.

So all you need to do is, enter the time you spent on a particular project and tag it accordingly. So for instance if you have spend 2 hours writing a report for Project X, you can just write 2h in the first column and Give a Project Name or Client Name in the second column and lastly add multiple tags or a good description to log it in your account.

Currently they have different types of account and all of them has a 30-day Free Trial period. So you can try out their service, and you can pay and continue after a month only if you find it useful for you. They also have a personal account which is 100% Free but only allows you to manage one client with one user access. Some of their more advanced accounts allows multiple users thus you can sign up for an account for your business and give Freckle to all your employees.

So head over to letsfreckle.com to sign up for a risk free 30 days trial account.

My Two Cents

Freckle is a really cool web service that I myself will be using for keeping track of my time. The only downside of this service is they don’t help you with counting the time. So for instance, If I’m working in a project I need to manually keep count of how many minutes/hours I have worked on it and then log it inside freckle. But if Freckle could give me a stopwatch which could do the counting for me then it would have been really cool. But I understand that they are new and they are going to improve their service based on the feedback they receive from their customers. I have already suggested some features to them via their Feedback form and I hope to see some of them included in the next version.

Update: Amy Hoy from Freckle’s support team recently emailed me and said that they are already working on a timer and it will be included sometime in January. So i guess this is a great news for all Freckle users! I’m really looking forward to it.

Dell PCs will come with Microsoft Live Search

Dell LogoMicrosoft has recently signed a major deal with the Pioneer PC Manufacturing company – Dell. According to a source Dell will be shipping new PCs with Microsoft’s Live Search toolbar preinstalled with their operating system.

Even though Microsoft & Dell officials has denied to comment on this deal, ZDnet’s source has confirmed that Microsoft has offered Dell sweet enough terms to entice the PC maker to replace its search-preload deal with Google with a comparable offering from Microsoft.

This is not the first time Microsoft has partner with a PC vendor. According to ZDnet, in March 2007 Microsoft has signed a search-preload deal with Lenovo. Under terms of that agreement, Lenovo agreed to preload Live Search and Windows Live services — delivered via the integrated MSN toolbar — on all new Lenovo consumer laptops.

OEM deals with big companies are just one way Microsoft is looking to grow their search user base. Microsoft is also considering re-branding their Live Search with a more brand-able name – Kumo. (This move by Microsoft was however criticized by a lot of technologists & brand experts).

I am wondering what did Google do to piss Dell off? Because until now Google was the primary & default search for all Dell computers.

Google Webmaster Tools Settings

Google Webmaster Tools lets you adjust a lot of useful settings of your website that you can’t really set otherwise. Recently Google has added a settings page under Webmaster Tools, which makes it really easy to find all these different setting options under one page.

The site settings that have been added to the new Webmaster Tools Settings page are:

1. Geographic Target – Lets you set your site’s Target Geographic Location. So you run a small local business based on United Kingdom, you can simply set your Target location as “United Kingdom” . This way your site will have higher chance of ranking for your keywords when a user performs a search from UK.

2. Preferred domain control – This lets you choose whether you would prefer to display “www” in your domain or not. This basically changes how your URL is displayed in the Google search results.

3. Opting in to enhanced image search – If you want your site’s images to be found via Google Image Search, you should opt-in for this feature.

4. Crawl rate control – Now Google gives you the ability to set your site’s crawl rate. So if you feel that Google is crawing your site too fast, you can reduce the speed or if you update your content too frequently and you want Google Crawler to come to your site more frequently then you can adjust your crawl rate according to your need. (SEOmoz recently did a test and concluded that changing the crawl rate doesn’t makes any substantial difference to a site.)

Google Webmaster Tools Team will continue to add more options in this dedicated settings page.