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Shane Richmond: Why the Drudge Report hasn’t ‘lost its edge’

September 15th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

Shane Richmond responds to last week’s New York Observer article on the allegedly waning influence of the Drudge Report.

Looking at its audience, impact and design, Richmond argues that the news aggregator, which broke the media blackout on Price Harry’s deployment to Afghanistan, still has its edge:

“For his audience, Drudge is a kind of search engine but one that has already answered their question,” he writes.

“It’s a simple idea, executed brilliantly. The Drudge Report is a page of search results, handpicked for an audience its author knows well.”

Full post at this link…

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OUT-LAW.com: Google not liable for defamation in snippets, rules Eady

July 20th, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Legal

Google is not liable as a publisher even if ‘snippets’ (the summaries contained in its search results) contain libellous words, a high court ruled last week.

The search engine’s UK and US divisions were sued in England by a training business over comments about its distance learning courses made on a US web forum – an excerpt of which then appeared in search results for the firm.

“Google said that Google Inc. should be sued in California, not England. But even if England is the proper forum, it argued, Google has no responsibility for the words complained of, and therefore there is ‘no reasonable prospect of success’ which is a requirement of rules on serving lawsuits outside the court’s jurisdiction,” reports OUT-LAW.com.

In his ruling, Mr Justice Eady made some additional, significant comments (close to this writer’s heart):

“There appears to be no previous English authority dealing with this modern phenomenon (…) Indeed, it is surprising how little authority there is within this jurisdiction applying the common law of publication or its modern statutory refinements to Internet communications.”

Full story at this link…

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Liverpool Daily Post: Madeleine McCann keywords in every main local news story was ‘oversight’

July 1st, 2009 | 8 Comments | Posted by in Newspapers, Online Journalism, Search

It was an ‘oversight’ that Madeleine McCann related keywords were included in the metadata for every main local news story on the Liverpool Daily Post site, a Trinity Mirror spokeperson said, after Journalism.co.uk informed the company that the terms were present in the ‘hidden text’ of a series of unrelated news items.

The automatic inclusion of the keywords “madeleine mccann, madeleine mcgann, kate mcgann, kate mccann” in the HTML for Liverpool news stories has now ceased.

Journalism.co.uk learned in May that specific keywords, including those above, were used in the metadata for the ‘Liverpool News Headlines’ section on the Liverpool Daily Post site, regardless of the story’s relevance. This continued for at least one month before it was drawn to the Post’s attention on Monday (June 29).

Use of unrelated ‘hidden’ metadata is commonly known as ‘keyword stuffing’, a practice which Google firmly discourages. Using popular keywords can help improve a site’s SEO performance. [Update: Google and most other search engines are no longer believed (Wikipedia link here) to recognise these tags: see Lammo.net post at this link.]

Google search results for “Madeleine McCann + Liverpool” shows that the Post and its sister site, the Liverpool Echo, have top rankings for related Madeleine McCann stories. [Update: but lower rankings when a simple Madeleine McCann search is performed. It's unlikely the addition of the keywords aided the LDP's Google ranking. Google says: "While accurate meta descriptions can improve clickthrough, they won't impact your ranking within search results."]

A Trinity Mirror spokesman said: “The metadata was inserted some time ago when the Madeleine McCann story was at its height and was the most-searched item on our web sites. It was inserted to make it easier for our users to access a huge story of national and local interest. The fact that it wasn’t removed is an oversight, which has now been put right.”

The evidence (before Liverpool Daily Post corrected the error this week):

A story about Len Williams, a well-known waterfront manager who recently died.

Waterfront

Keywords in the HTML version:
LENkeywords1
LENkeywords2

livpostlen

The section of the site which used these keywords for all stories:

livnews

Google’s  definition:

“‘Keyword stuffing’ refers to the practice of loading a webpage with keywords in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google’s search results. Filling pages with keywords results in a negative user experience, and can harm your site’s ranking. Focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.

“To fix this problem, review your site for misused keywords. Typically, these will be lists or paragraphs of keywords, often randomly repeated. Check carefully, because keywords can often be in the form of hidden text, or they can be hidden in title tags or alt attributes.

“Once you’ve made your changes and are confident that your site no longer violates our guidelines, submit your site for reconsideration.”

A definition by Nathan Campbell on SEO.com:

“Some unethical SEOs choose to employ renegade tactics such as keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing is overloading the content or meta tags of the web page with every possible keyword or phrase that relates to the site in many different forms.”

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Google News Blog: Ads on US Google News

February 26th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Advertising, Editors' pick

As part of continued experimentation with new ad formats, US users of Google News will now be presented with ads in their search results.

Full post at this link…

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Archant and Telegraph in geotagged search launches

November 24th, 2008 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Multimedia, Newspapers

Archant’s EDP24 site has released a new local business directory complete with search results plotted on a Google map, which can be refined by distance.

The directory builds on Archant’s existing jobs and property sites, Jobs24 and Homes24, which use geotagging technology to map the listings.

Built into the directory are a range of packages for advertisers looking to have a listing on the site.

Still no word on Archant’s geotagged news plans though…

In a similar vein, Telegraph.co.uk announced a partnership with vertical search engine Nestoria last week to ramp up its property listings.

As a blog post from Nestoria announcing the deal says:

“The partnerships has two dimensions: Telegraph users are presented with a Telegraph branded version of Nestoria property search, and Telegraph estate agents will have their 150,000+ listings displayed on Nestoria.”

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Bloomberg: Google loses copyright cases in Germany

October 14th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick

The search giant has lost two cases involving thumbnail images included in the previews of search results.

The rulings can be appealed.

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Google launches audio search feature

September 18th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Search

Google’s labs have created a new audio search function, which allows the user to search the audio of video clips on YouTube by keyword, an announcement on the Official Google Blog has said.

GAudi, as the service has been dubbed, will produce a list of search results for a term and the times at which they occurred.

The most useful function: you can skip forward to the point in the clip at which your keyword crops up.

The audio indexing tool builds on Google’s launch of video-to-text transcription for political videos in YouTube’s politicians channel, as part of its US presidential election services.

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Googleblog: archived newspapers going online

September 9th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

Google is making it its mission to make old newspapers available online. The search giant will partner with newspaper publishers to digitize millions of pages of news archives, and hopes to make more newspapers accessible and searchable online. In time
these archives will be blended into the main Google search results.

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Guardian most popular newspaper website in UK, according to Nielsen Online

May 28th, 2008 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Newspapers, Traffic

Some significant differences between the figures for unique users visiting UK newspaper sites released by Nielsen Online today and those announced by the Audit Bureau of Circulations Electronic (ABCe) last week.

While both rank the Guardian as the most popular in the UK, Nielsen’s figures suggest the site attracted 3 million unique users in the UK in April compared to 7,762,826 recorded by the ABCe.

The Telegraph attracted 2.7 million UK uniques in April, according to Nielsen – around 3.5 million less than the figure reported by the ABCe.

By the Nielsen figures the Sun attracted 1.9 million UK unique users, the Times 1.8 million and the Daily Mail 1.7 million over the same period.

Nielsen calculates its traffic figures using a panel-based method called NetView, which the company describes as ‘around 45,000 UK internet users who have opted in to download a meter which records all their PC, online and application usage on a continual and ongoing basis.’

In contrast, websites register themselves with the ABCe, which then audits data on web traffic recorded by the sites.

Very different methods – very different results.

Interestingly Nielsen also provides data on the ‘engagement’ of UK unique users with a site, differentiating between ‘heavy’ (>15 minutes), ‘medium'(>5 – >=15 minutes) and ‘light'(<=5 minutes) users.

The results of this analysis suggest the most popular online newspapers – the Guardian and Telegraph – have the highest percentage of light visitors (with 83%and 81% respectively).

The results for engagement in full:

Sun: 14% heavy, 16% medium, 70% light
Times: 13% heavy, 17% medium, 70% light
Daily Mail: 12% heavy, 14% medium,75% light
Telegraph: 7% heavy, 12% medium, 81% light
Guardian: 6% heavy, 11% medium, 83% light

The figures suggest that the Times is the only title to have gained in ‘heavy’ users since January 2008, while the Telegraph has recorded the biggest increase in ‘light’ users over the same period.

As Stephen Brooks, UK managing director for Nielsen Online, pointed out in the release: “Analysing the Telegraph’s audience by heavy, medium and light visitors reveals their dramatic growth in popularity is concentrated around light users, which could be due to the site’s improved visibility in search results,”

“This encapsulates the ‘reach vs engagement’ conundrum that newspaper sites face – is the best path to financial success attracting the most visitors or having a smaller core of more engaged users?”

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BBC: Google and Yahoo to share ad space online

April 10th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Advertising, Editors' pick

Google and Yahoo have announced a two week experiment that will see the web giants take a share of each other’s advertising space.

During the trial Google will be able to put ads next to 3 per cent of search results on Yahoo.

Microsoft, which recently offered to buy Yahoo, has criticised the scheme.

“Any definitive agreement between Yahoo and Google would consolidate over 90 per cent of the search advertising market in Google’s hands. This would make the market far less competitive,” Brad Smith, Microsoft’s General Counsel, told the BBC.

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