Tag Archives: Italy

Google’s autocomplete search suggestions target of Milan court order

The Court of Milan has rejected an appeal of a January 21/25 order requiring Google to suppress automatic search query completion suggestions associating two defamatory keywords, truffa (scam, swindle ) and truffatore (con man, crook) with a person operating in the financial services sector. While Google performs some preventive censorship based on local social and legal norms, this is at least the second time a European court has ordered the removal of phrases related to con artists & swindlers.

Search for presumed plaintiff in GoogleFigure 1: Based on a search for the plaintiff’s presumed full name & name + “t” (the last name is mentioned in the judgment), Google appears to have complied with the ruling. The plaintiff argued that Google should have applied filters proactively to avoid injuring a person’s constitutionally guarantied rights (which rights isn’t clear – honor isn’t listed in the Italian constitution) and, once notified of the problem, still took no action. Google argued that suggested queries are automatically generated based on prior user queries and thus Google is not responsible for their content. Google also argued that censoring suggestions would open it up to damage claims from those accusing it of suppressing information available on the web.

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Google Instant expands international reach to 19 domains

Three weeks after its initial debut, Google Instant is now available in 19 of Google’s 182 domains. Interesting tidbit: Google included Italy in its first roll-out group, but Google Instant is not yet available for the tiny city state of San Marino, which also uses Italian.

Not everyone sees Google Instant

Google Instant is only available for Chrome, Firefox, Safari and IE 8 browsers – users with Internet Explorer 6 and 7 browsers won’t see instant. Users must be logged in to a Google service, such as Google Analytics, Gmail or Google Docs, to use Google Instant. The one exception is for searches performed on Google.com – there everyone gets access to Google Instant. Also keep in mind that users searching via a browser toolbar won’t see Google Instant until they refine their search in a returned results page.

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Google Instant Changes Little – and Some SEO Considerations using the Italian ABCs

So now that most of the uninformed hype surrounding Google Instant has been written, let’s take a hard look at what Google Instant really means for most companies and organizations.

Google Instant is an interface change

First of all, it is important to understand what Google Instant is and what it is not. Google Instant is a user interface change, it changes the way Google presents search results to Google users.

How Google Instant works

As the user types a query, Google refreshes the displayed search results which, according to Google, best respond to the query typed so far or what Google predicts the query will be based on past queries.

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Move over Basic Search Results, Google Rich Snippets are here

For years search engine search results were limited to 3 basic pieces of information: a title, a summary and a URL. Attentive observers of Google search engine results may have noticed the appearance of additional information, what Google calls rich snippets, in certain results over the past few months. Some results contain review ratings, such as in this case where an iPod received 5 stars from 81 reviewers:

Apple iPod Review
Figure 1: Apple iPod Review

This search for U2 concert information provides event details for tour dates:

U2 Concert Rich Snippet 2
Figure 2: U2 Concert Rich Snippet Example 1
U2 Concert Rich Snippet 1
Figure 3: U2 Concert Rich Snippet Example 2

Note how the first result provides better detail on where the event is taking place. In both cases the event name is repeated for each date – that may or may not make sense. SEO practitioners have a lot of latitude in crafting these search results.

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Yahoo Directories in Europe RIP. Did anybody notice?

Yahoo! has closed some of their European directories sometime this year – their Italian and German directory URLs, e.g. http://it.dir.yahoo.com/, are now redirecting to their search page. Others may be impacted but I haven’t checked. At least the Italian directory is still in Google and Yahoo search results but not those of Bing. Yahoo Site Explorer also shows cached pages from the Italian directory with the copyright 2010; unfortunately Yahoo! doesn’t display a cache date. Other Yahoo! directories, such as the US and UK versions, are still open for business.
Yahoo Directory Italia
Figure 1: Yahoo! Directory in Italy, once upon a time

Yahoo Directory closures not really a surprise

As I’ve previously noted (see question 3), Yahoo stopped updating their German directory in 2006 and the same is probably true for Italy although they never admitted that it was closed to new entries. With Yahoo’s de-emphasis of search, and the long decline in human edited directories overall, these directory closures can’t really be much of a surprise. Yet as one who remembers using the Yahoo! directory before DEC’s Altavista, this is quite a search milestone. I might not miss you Yahoo! directory, but your passing has been noticed.

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Italian press to Google: you’re unfair (and we’re confused)

This past week the Italian antitrust authority (Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato) conducted a search of Google’s Italian office and announced it was beginning an investigation into Google’s possible abuse of its dominant position in the Italian search engine market. The case was triggered by a complaint from the Italian Federation of News Publishers, FIEG (Federazione Italiana Editori Giornali). FIEG represents publishers of newspapers and magazines, together with press agencies.

So what’s the problem?

The news industry has struggled since the mid 1990s to figure out a profitable internet strategy. “Free” content needs to be supported by advertising revenue, yet poorly targeted banners and the like don’t pay much. Google’s indisputable success as an advertising powerhouse1 has captured the press’ attention.

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Bing – features and SEO recommendations, one month on

At the end of May Microsoft announced its new search engine, Bing. Microsoft justified many of Bing’s new features by noting that 50% of search queries are either abandoned or refined – users aren’t getting the right answer on the first try, citing studies by Jakob Nielsen, Enquiro and internal testing. Microsoft also said that searchers are becoming more focused more on tasks and decisions – consequently search engine sessions are becoming longer as users work their way through their decision making process.

As data from Bing’s first full month becomes available, I thought it would be interesting to take a quick look at what the Bing rollout means for search marketers and, in a separate article, current search engine market shares.

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Are directories still useful for SEO and in increasing web site traffic?

An ongoing question in search engine optimization (SEO) projects regards which directories might be useful for increasing incoming traffic to a web site and as a means in obtaining better search engine visibility. The question arises due to the importance that was once attributed by search engines to some directories and by the desire to attract direct traffic to a site, where and whenever possible.

For a new site, directories, short reviews of sites organized by categories and subcategories, can be a useful source of incoming links.

However, it is highly doubtful that most directories today help very much in improving search engine visibility, nor in generating much direct traffic.

There are multiple reasons:

  1. directories are often “generalist” – yet it is thematic links which are most useful for most sites that deal with products, services or in specific sectors;
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Funny business searching for Milan-Rome flights in Google – AdSense Arbitrage at work.

The traditional August break in Italy is a wonderful time to work on projects which linger on the back burner during the rest of the year. Last August led to the release of a free keyword selection guide (in Italian); this year’s focus is a Course on using the AdWords PPC paid search marketing program.

While capturing some updated screen shots for the PPC Course, I came across an interesting example of a search marketing phenomena known as PPC or AdSense arbitrage.

Search for Milan – Rome Flights

Consider this search for Milan – Rome Flights: Search in Google for Flights between Milan and Rome
Figure 1: Search in Google for Flights between Milan and Rome

Travel is one of the most highly competitive business sectors on the web. It shouldn’t then be a great surprise that we have 3 sponsored results (with the beige background) above the organic results in addition to the standard sponsored results on the right. The results at the top appear when there is a high chance of the ad being very profitable for Google – the maximum bid is high, as is the historic click-through rate.

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People, Internet and Enterprise Business, all without mentioning Google.

Last Wednesday I had the fortune to attend a world class conference on social behavior and technology applied to medium and large sized businesses. Not in San Francisco. Not in Boston, where I worked for 4 years. Not in Milan, even. In Varese. Right, Varese, once known more for shoe production. The conference, the International Forum on Enterprise 2.0, was held at L’Università dell’Insubria as part of their 10th anniversary celebration.

As a search marketing consultant, I was very interested in how the social web is being applied to business environments. The very intertwined nature of the web means that no web marketing project should be seen in isolation. <rant>Thanks to the kind folks at Trenitalia, who canceled my train from Tuscany at the last minute, I almost didn’t make it. Not that you’d find any news about this on their website.</rant>

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