Google has announced a second limited test run of its music video/AdSense program, distributing videos from Sony BMG and Warner Music that contain ads. The program, which is only offered to specific AdSense publishers, pays those publishers (with Google getting its cut) on a CPM basis for embedding the videos on their websites, as rich alternative to traditional display ads as well as a way of combining advertising and content.
This is the second time Google has done this program, the first with Viacom last year. The four-week test is already underway, and publishers can’t request to jump in. There’s no doubt lots of AdSense publishers would love to be able to use the ads, finding cool ways to turn the music videos into relevant content, so the rest of us can only hope the pilot program is a success.
In other ad news, the AdWords blog announced that the AdWords site exclusion list is now unlimited, letting AdWords publishers say no to running their ads on as many sites as they’d like. That has got to make AdSense publishers jealous, as they’d love such an option ads that don’t perform, as well as those that point to Made For AdSense sites.
Some funny Google Maps sightings in the last day or so:
First off, a bug in the directions system in Google Maps sent drivers into a tail-spin, with Google instructing them to make well over 200 u-turns. Yikes!
A screenshot of the first 28 steps in the process, courtesy of Kandarp:
Don’t worry, Google’s already fixed it, but I heard there was a major traffic incident in New Jersey yesterday involving 8,500 dizzy drivers. Just kidding, but I’m glad Google isn’t doing GPS car navigation just yet.
In the other story, participants to Foo Camp last fall were told by Google’s Chris DiBona that Google would be doing a flyover, and invited them to make large decorations that would be seen in Google Maps and Google Earth. Those involved made a giant Space Invaders tribute, as well as a “Cylon raider” from Battlestar Galactica (geeks forever!), as well as lying down on the ground and waving at the camer.
The imagery should go live on Google Maps/Earth next month, but Chris gave Tom Coates this image showing what it will look like in the end:
(click to view full-size in Flickr)
You can also sorta view it in Google Maps now, thanks to an overlay by GEarthBlog, which coincidentally helps let you know where the imagery will appear eventually (just un-check the check box sometime mid-February).
(via Boing Boing)
Darren Barefoot has put together a cool survey site, asking people why it is that they blog. Since I’m interested in what sort of results he gets (plus, he’s giving fifty bucks to someone who links to it, as well as two people who fill it out), I’m recommending any of my readers who are also bloggers, head down and take a minute to answer the short survey. The survey will help Darren give a talk at Northern Voice in February, so I hope he posts online the speech, so the people who helped create it get to see it.
If you’ve ever stopped blogging for a long period of time, or abandonded a blog, why did you?
I got married.
Wikipedia has adopted the “nofollow” tag on all of its outgoing links, in an effort to combat SEOs that have been using it as part of an SEO contest. The contest, Globalwarming Awareness2007, saw its contestants listing themselves on a Wikipedia page about the contest, knowing it would help them win the contest (which involves achieving a high rank on Google for a particular search term), and that pissed off some Wikipedians. So, for the second time, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has dropped the hammer and made all outgoing links “nofollow”.
Wikipedia is doing this to discourage spammers, but I think they should be worried it will discourage bloggers. Lots of people link to Wikipedia, feeling that since it is an impartial and non-commercial source, it’s a good way to point readers when you write a term that they might not recognize. After this change, Wikipedia is still all that, if not more, but some people could feel jealous about the way Wikipedia is acting.
See, the way Google (and thusly, most search engines) works, is that a site gets power from the more links that point to it. Wikipedia, being popular, has a ton of links, and thus a lot of link power. Now, a site like mine, which has considerably less links, wants to get links from some mighty powerful places, like Wikipedia, since Wikipedia’s outgoing links gets power from all their incoming links.
Of course, if Wikipedia uses “nofollow”, its outgoing links have no power at all. Nofollow is a tag, added to a link but invisible to the average web server, that acts like a barrier, telling search engines not to count that link. It’s supposed to be used when linking to evil websites and commonly spammed areas, to ensure those sites don’t get better rankings in Google just because you pointed at them.
Google recommends using “nofollow” on user-submitted content, which sites cannot control well, and Wikipedia is certainly that. However, Wikipedia is also highly edited, a real controlled environment, and that means that bad links should be removed in due process, and instead of relying on its user/editors, Wikipedia is just lumping every single link in the “bad” pile.
Luckily, it looks like this could be a temporary measure, but then again, it might not, and that has raised some strong opinions. Andy Beal says:
So, in response, any future links to Wikipedia from us, will include a NOFOLLOW. Maybe if we all take that approach, Wikipedia will lose its PageRank and won’t have to worry about link-spam any longer.
He’s somewhat joking, but he’s also right. Every time I link to Wikipedia, I’m giving it a “link contribution”, helping it do better in search engines. While it isn’t as valuable as an actual donation, I would expect Wikipedia to do the same for me, linking to me as appropriate, and giving me a “contribution” the same way I give them. I consider a link from Wikipedia to be a pretty cool thing for anything I write, and I want Google to know what Wikipedia thinks of me.
Philipp puts this really well:
What happens as a consequence, in my opinion, is that Wikipedia gets valuable backlinks from all over the web, in huge quantity, and of huge importance – normal links, not “nofollow” links; this is what makes Wikipedia rank so well – but as of now, they’re not giving any of this back. The problem of Wikipedia link spam is real, but the solution to this spam problem may introduce an even bigger problem: Wikipedia has become a website that takes from the communities but doesn’t give back, skewing web etiquette as well as tools that work on this etiquette (like search engines, which analyze the web’s link structure). That’s why I find Wikipedia’s move very disappointing.
TechMeme has a lot of discussion on this as well. There are a lot of pros and cons, so I’ll give a completely different perspective:
24 days ago, I added a link to Wikipedia. It was a legitimate edit, adding completely new information to an article, and linking to one of my blogs as the source of the information, since it was the source. Now, while I’d like the link juice, if it remains “nofollow” (it currently is), I still have something else to gain:
In the 24 days since I added the link, I have had 136 referrals from that page. On average, I get 5.66 new visitors per day. That isn’t a lot, but if I made adding links to Wikipedia a part of my regular SEO strategy (and keep in mind, I only do this when it adds new information, since that’s the only way I can be sure no one will remove my link), I’d get an additional 2068 visitors a day (plus some new subscribers, as a matter of course), if I added a new link every day for a year. Having a huge amount of links from Wikipedia can make a dent, if you do it consistently and legitimately.
So, there you go. A new SEO strategy that works with Wikipedia, even if the links don’t carry any juice. Plus, if I make Wikipedia link to my sites hundreds of times year, then I change the balance, with Wikipedia giving me a hell of a lot more than I ever give to it. And that’s not so bad.