$5 Router will you Byte

An interesting article about one organizations attempt to establish a free global Wi-Fi network. The catch, buy a router from them for $5 and share it with who ever wants access and you get free Wi-Fi access where ever you go.

Sounds good, but what about security? By sharing your Internet connection you are sharing your home network. As time goes by and more network based appliances start becoming mainstream in the home this could create just another opportunity for identity theft, privacy breaches and viruses to spread.

So will you take the bait?

I for one will not, but it is tempting.


New Google Adwords Features The Good & The Bad

If you didn't log into your Adwords account for the past week you may be in for a good shock. Yes Google has added some new and valuable features to their big money maker Adwords.

Here is the breakdown.

First, the most disappointing, you can now set the time zone for your reports and budgets. This means instead of having a campaign expired at midnight pacific time, you can change your default to your time zone. With a couple of mouse clicks your Google Adwords Campaigns now run and report on North American Eastern time, GMT, or what ever time zone you want. Sounds great doesn't it, but watch out. This is a one time setting, choose the wrong setting and your s*** out of luck.

Also, why can I only set it for my profile and not per campaign? I run campaigns for others and they can be in any time zone around the world. Why for a Vancouver company do I have to run their campaigns on Easter Time and for a company in England on Eastern Time and not GMT time? I think Google is on the right track, but this one should have stayed in the closet a little longer for all the kinks to be worked out.

Secondly, and this is a win win for everyone, is they now offer day parting. Day parting allows you to set what days of the week you want your Google Adwords to appear and the time of the day. This means if you want to only target business in Toronto, Ontario you can now not only set the geotarget to the New York City area, but you configure Adwords to display ads only from Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm, if that's what you want. This when done correctly, will allow you to increase the click through rate and improve your ad quality score. As we all know the all important quality score is becoming even more important then the PPC bid. High quality score ads can get listed higher in the paid section and be charged less per click then other ads. So start testing when your ads get the best click through rate and target your budget there.

For third party software companies like "BidRank" that offer tools for day parting, this may signal the start of their down fall. Well for now there are still those Yahoo/Overture campaigns to worry about.


Talking SEO to Chartered Accountants

Today was an interesting day. I gave a conference address on Search Engine Optimization to a group of Chartered Accountants here in Toronto at the inaugural CICA National IT Conference.

The conference organizers thought it would be a good idea to have a track devoted to techie subjects. Hence, I gave a talk on the hot topic of SEO. Too bad most of the 200+ attendees didn't agree. While the room could seat approx. 150 people, I'd say that no more then 25 attended my session. The good news is that those 25 were very interested in learning what SEO and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) were all about and how they/their firms could take advantage of both SEO and SEM.

For this crowd, I had to deemphasized the techie details in my regular presentation and concentrate on the business side of SEO and SEM. This is something that comes naturally to me and I could easily rely on my presentation topics from 1999 and 2000 where I exclusively talked about how to measure ROI and the success of web projects.

I did receive some excellent questions at the end of my address. And I think I managed to impart, on what I hope are the decision makers of companies, the importance of SEO and the need to embrace it as a long term strategy and how there are real financial pay-offs when done correctly and how SEM can be used to supplement SEO efforts.

All in all I'm pleased with the presentation and it was fun to run into some people who I had worked with in the past.

My hat is off to the conference organizers for a excellent and well run conference and good luck with next year's conference.


Google's Market Share US & Canada

SearchEngineWatch reported on Netratings score of the on-line searches for Arpil 2006. Google has now reached 50% (http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/060526-090731). This compares to comScore reporting they represent 43% for the same period. No matter how you look at it, Google is the most popular search engine at least in the US. No wonder every SEO targets Google, but do the math, if you can rank well in the other search engines, you'll still reaching 40% or so of the potential market. So if it's easier to reach 40% then to reach 50% where do you put your effort?

It's just something to think about. The reality is you need to know where your target market is searching and not just be fixated with Google.

By the way, for those in Canada here are some stats that were given to me by Google Canada.

Reach December 2005
Google - 66%
MSN - 14%
Yahoo - 13%

Hmmmm, looks like Google has a strangle hold on Canada.


More Google & China

There is a follow-up news article to the one I referenced in my previous post.

Google co-founder says company is staying in China.

This article is well worth the read and provides better details on how Google is going to walk both sides of the fence (at least fro now) between censoring its index and providing non-censored results.

As I said before, they're in business to make money and not change the world. So this way they can comply with China's requirements and provide a high quality (speedy search engine) and also continue to provide access to poor quality (slow speed search engine) that doesn't comply.

I guess China is hoping that users will go with google.cn because its fast and Google things people will go to google.com because its not censored. Let's see Google built its reputation on being a fast search engine with high quality results. For now, according to this article quality is winning (99% use Google.com). So just like going out to eat, if you want good quality food and service it may take longer then grabbing something at your favourite fast food establishment. Yes it may be 100% beef, but which part of the cow?


Google and Compromised Principals

So Google has now admitted that it has compromised its principals when it comes to China (see: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060607/ap_on_hi_te/google_censorship_5) and the censorship of its search results.

So the first question one needs to ask is "SO?" While I personally don't like censorship, Google is already conducting censorship in North America just not as obviously as when an government asks them not to list specific sites.

Don't believe me! By their own admission, if they discover you've used some black hat SEO techniques on your site, they can blacklist you from their index. That is a form of censorship. Yes saying you "must not do XXX on your site or else we won't list you" is a form of censorship.

How about when you build a brand new site only to have Google put you in the Google sandbox. This may be a temporary form of censorship, but you are still penalized for being a new site.

Google makes no claims that their index contains every web site in the world. Nor is there ever a guarantee that they will index you despite your best SEO efforts.

As a private company they have the right to modify their product to best fit their customers and their market. Go to a pizza parlor in Jerusalem, because of the religious dietary laws, you won't get meat on your cheese pizza. In Muslim countries the government may require restaurants to only server Halla meats and no pork. Is this any different then telling Google they can not server up specific sites to people of that country? In the first instance they are trying to stop people from consuming specific foods that are forbidden by their religion and in the other they are trying to stop people from consuming specific knowledge that is forbidden by their government.

Yes, I agree what China is doing is bad and it is right up there with the people who keep trying to stop the teaching of evolution, but let's not blame Google or the other search engines for trying to make money and expand their markets. Set the blame where it belongs on the governments that set the rules we all live and work within.


FireFox Security Update

For those of you who are using the FireFox browser beaware that a rare security warning has been issued for FireFox and the Thunderbird e-mail reader both from Mozilla.com. There is a security hole common to both application and the fix is available on-line simply by upgrading your current version at http://www.mozilla.com/.

The Cyper-Alter was issued on June 2, 2006 see below.
Cyber Security Alert SA06-153A

Mozilla Products Contain Multiple Vulnerabilities

Original release date: June 2, 2006
Last revised: --
Source: US-CERT

Systems Affected

* Firefox web browser
* Thunderbird email application


The Firefox web browser and Thunderbird email application contain
several vulnerabilities. By taking advantage of one or more of
these vulnerabilities, an attacker may be able to take control of
your computer.


Upgrade to the latest versions of Firefox and Thunberbird

Mozilla has released an updated version of Firefox to corrrect
these problems.

Mozilla has released an updated version of Thunderbird to correct
these problems.


Mozilla products, including the Firefox web browser and Thunderbird
email application, contain a number of vulnerabilities. These
vulnerabilities may allow an attacker to access your computer, run
programs that could cause your computer to crash, or gain control
of your computer.

For more technical information, see US-CERT Technical Alert


Measuring Bandwidth Speed - What's Your Speed

Over the last couple of days I've noticed a slow down on my main pc and generally with accessing the web. So was it my ISP or my PC.

Many people over the years have asked me this question and how do you know before you call and complain to your ISP or start looking at your PC.

The easiest way is to first eliminate the Internet connection. To do this you can access anyone of many bandwidth checkers. What these utilities generally do is conduct a small file transfer in both directions and measure the time it takes to for the file to transfer. In other cases they simply do a test called a Trace Route and measure the time it takes for servers to respond. In either case, they can give you a sense of your bandwidth speed (does it match what you’re paying for) and how many errors are encountered along the way (causes of slow downs). If all looks good then it's your PC, if you have lots of errors and your bandwidth is off, then it's your ISP.

My favourite tool for testing my connection is MySpeed Bandwidth Test.

In the past, I've caught one ISP who had reduced my bandwith speed to a lower level then what I was paying for. Unfortunately today it’s something with my PC and I now need to spend some time figuring out what. Until then, at least I know my connection is good.