Category Archives: Special
So what is the state of the Internet in Italy in the year 2008? Armed with an ambitious, varied agenda spanning two days, speakers from Italy and abroad tried to answer this question during the conference STATEoftheNET, held February 8 and 9 in Udine.
We didn’t need to wait long for an answer. Stefano Quintarelli, in the first session, noted that only 22% of Italians are using broadband Internet, by now a requirement for full participation in the world of Internet. This compares with 55% in the United States, not to speak of countries where the broadband penetration is even higher. Effectively 78% of Italians are cutoff from everything the Internet can offer, from basic information retrieval to active discussion of current events. Some are cutoff due to the lack of a universal service mandate – they cannot get broadband access (the so-called digital divide). The majority of the cases are probably due to people who don’t perceive sufficient value in all that Internet can offer.
More than two years after Google launched its Google Desktop Search for Windows application, limited initial support for the Linux platform is available. Of the top three major search engines which offer desktop search software (Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft), Google is the first to try to win the hearts and minds of both Macintosh and Linux users. Yahoo and Microsoft solutions are both limited to Windows.
For Google, search is strategically important, wherever it happens.
Why are the search engines offering free desktop search software?
Desktop search is strategically important to search engines. Personal computer users searching for information with a desktop search application are just one click away from seamlessly integrated web search.
Controlling desktop search means controlling traffic to a web search engine – a very lucrative business as demonstrated by Google’s economic results.
Google is in the process of releasing a significant update to the free web analytics tool it launched to wide acclaim in November 2005.
Although we’ve appreciated the professional feature set in Google Analytics, especially given the cost, the user interface was cumbersome at best. As time went on, Google Adwords features were continually patched on, making it difficult for even an experienced web analytics practitioner to navigate through a sea of somewhat repeating, redundant reports.
Google Analytics Reloaded
In version two, the Google Analytics user interface has been completely overhauled. Big bold fonts, similar to those used in feedburner’s statistics, and vibrant colors make key data points and trends much more intelligible. Report and date range selection has been simplified.
The at a glance dashboard is now customizable – sections can be added, removed and reordered. Once this is done, the dashboard can be scheduled to be e-mailed on a regular basis.
Expats in Italy need to stay on top of professional and daily happenings locally while still engaging in the wider world. This task is made difficult by the vast quantity and quality of resources available in English (my native language), as exemplified by the BBC. Unfortunately, their Italian equivalents, such as the ad-infested public broadcaster RAI, just can’t compete for my attention.
It doesn’t get much easier on the web marketing front. The primary search engines in Italy are the US based Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft Live and Ask, sometimes found in their rebranded skins: Arianna (enhanced by Google) and Virgilio (listed by Google as a customer). Inevitably, most of my web marketing reading is English language centric.
As a side note, Google commands a percentage of the market in most western markets that most politicians can only dream of. Yet the search market remains very dynamic and innovative.
At yesterday’s ZenaCamp in Genova, I gave a presentation on the main issues that are frequently encountered when creating sites for an international audience:
A particular focus was made on user issues, such as providing a page in the right language to a site visitor while allowing them to override the choice – and remembering their choice upon successive site visits.
Search engine optimization was also discussed as there are several techniques which can be used to help search engines correctly identify a web page’s language.
If you’d like a copy of the presentation, please contact me.
In this article, we set out to document the little known Ask web search API available at xml.teoma.com.
One of the many aspects of successful search engine optimization (SEO) is the periodic measurement of how well a site is performing in a particular search engine. Dimensions to measure include the number of pages in the engine’s index, the number of other web properties citing the site and the site’s performance for the strategic keywords linked to business objectives. Once raw data is collected, each of these data points is compared with other data to evaluate aspects such as page freshness.
The first SEO practitioners resorted to writing rudimentary programs which simulated an internet search, capturing and processing the resulting data for analysis using spreadsheet or database programs. This process is known as scraping.
Google has made its on line web analytics reporting service, Google Analytics, available free of charge to website owners. The service, bought several months ago from Urchin, previously cost a minimum of $2400 / year.
The service uses small snippets of code embedded in each page of a website. When the page is requested by an Internet navigator, a call is made to Google’s servers which track basic information such as the page, the time, the browser, the user’s host IP address and referring URL if any.
There are some strings attached. Sites will be limited to tracking 5 million pages a month unless they also participate in Google’s AdWords. Thus, the free, no-strings attached offer is effectively limited to smaller sites filling niche markets and needs.