Wednesday, April 27, 2011

When I hear "Paris", I think of France, not Texas

While looking through the Google Analytics for, I was pleased to find that we rank very well for the search term "Museer i Paris, Frankrig" ("Museums in Paris, France" in Danish). Despite ranking well for that term, we aren't getting a lot of traffic for Paris museum searches, which I found odd. I would've thought that this would be a common search for tourists visiting the City of Light.

The solution to the problem is that doesn't rank nearly as well for the search "Museer i Paris" ("Museums in Paris"). Situations like this show the weakness of search engines like Google when searching for a topic or concept rather than specific words.

Imagine a library where one client asks for some books about "museums in Paris, France" and gets a different set of recommendations from a client coming to the info desk minutes later asking for "museums in Paris". A human librarian would view these queries as equivalent and wouldn't be fooled by the slightly different wording. I mean, if you really wanted books on Paris, Texas you'd say so.

But for Google, "Paris" and "Paris, France" are different queries producing different results. Even in a field as mature as full-text search, there's a lot of work to be done.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Demand Media traffic down 40 precent

According to an article at, traffic to the Demand Media sites is down 40% since the Google "Panda" update aimed at reducing the prominence of content farms in search results.

This just further confirms my belief that the way Nelso collects business data, by actually going out into the street to verify every listing, will pay off in the long run.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Why didn't Volvo want Android users?

The baseball season has started, and tempted by an offer of free access to live games for the month of April, I downloaded the At Bat app for the iPad.

The free live baseball broadcasts are sponsored by Volvo. However, the promotion is only available to iOS users, even though the MLB At Bat app is available for Android. Curious.

One can assume that this promotion was quite expensive (a one month subscription to costs $19.99), and as such Volvo had to choose its demographic target carefully.

But why not Android users? People who buy smartphones are, in theory, ideal candidates for car advertising. According to an April 2011 report from Greystripe on the car buying habits of smartphone users:
The auto industry is also using touch smartphones and tablets as a medium to reach new potential customers, given the attractiveness of the user base. Specifically, U.S. iPhone and Android users are three times more likely to buy a new car than the U.S. adult population.
But it's really no surprise that Volvo wouldn't want to advertise to Android users. The Android demographic probably isn't a good fit for a Scandinavian luxury car maker. Most of the criticisms of iOS and Apple could also be applied to Volvo: the product is too expensive compared to other products with similar capabilities, the marketing stresses hard-to-define qualities like "design", "safety", and "user experience", and "I don't see myself as one of those people" (the bourgeoisie).

So who should Major League Baseball get to sponsor the Android version of the app? I can think of a few possibilities.

Hyundai: The most common complaint about Apple products is that they are expensive. The Hyundai Accent is the cheapest car sold in the US, and so is immune to such charges.

Chevrolet: Even if one does want to spend a lot on a computer, many wouldn't buy Apple because they can get the same processing power for less. The Chevy Camaro, producing 312 HP in its base configuration and costing only $22,680, has more power per dollar than any other car.

Other possibilities would be kit cars (for those who build their own computers) or the Jeep Wrangler (lots of customization possibilites).

In my case, the promotion worked well. I have two small children, and after watching hundreds of Volvo ads in the MLB At Bat app, I'm seriously considering a Volvo for my next car purchase.

What to call this? A "decagooglewhack"?

A Googlewhack is a search term that returns only a single result, which is unusual because the size of the web makes it unlikely that a phrase has only been used once on the billions of web pages in existence.

A friend of Nelso recently directed me to another Google anomaly. In this case, it's not that a search term returns only one result, but that he found a search term - "mujsalekkavy" - that returns Nelso sites for all ten results on the first page (see screenshot).

The business in question, Můjšálekkávy, has a Flash site, which makes this a lot easier to pull off, because Flash sites tend to index poorly.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Microsoft launches "Bing Places"

Well, it's not called "Bing Places" (that's a Google term), it's called "Bing Business Portal". But the idea is exactly the same - this is Bing/Microsoft's response to Google Places.

The only surprise in this announcement is that it took Bing/Microsoft this long to launch a proper competitor to Google's local search product.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Factory Outlets in Italy

We've had a quite a bit of success with our listings for factory outlets, and today we covered another big outlet complex in northern Italy. Click through to check out the listings for factory outlets in Barberino di Mugello, Italia.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

No more Google Street View in Germany

A number of news sites are reporting today that Google will not be continuing Street View photography in Germany. While the 20 cities already covered will remain on-line, there will be no new cities covered, and the existing cities won't be getting any updates.

Google had attempted to address the privacy concerns of Germans by allowing homes and businesses to opt out of Street View, but in the end it seems they decided it just wasn't worth the trouble.

It's unclear the impact this will have on Nelso's data collection efforts in Germany. We'll certainly have to be quite careful not to reveal license plate numbers and faces in the photos we take of businesses. We'll also need to allow businesses to opt out of having their photos displayed on the Nelso sites.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

iOS at Sea

On March 29, 2011, CIO Australia published an interview with Andy Lark, Dell's global head of marketing for large enterprises. In the interview, Lark made a lot of "quotable" statements, among them:
“An iPad with a keyboard, a mouse and a case [means] you’ll be at $1500 or $1600; that’s double of what you’re paying," he claimed. "That’s not feasible.”
Let's forget for a moment that $1500 seems a little high, even for a tricked-out iPad. The fact is that even $1500 is definitely not too much for enterprises to pay for tablet computers.

What's ironic is that Mr. Lark's statement had already been refuted by an article in the same magazine (CIO) published just days before.

In an article titled "Three Ways Royal Caribbean Has Embraced Mobile, Made Customers Happy", CIO magazine detailed Royal Caribbean's use of iPhones, iPads, and tablet computers to help people on board their cruise ships. I know about iPhones and iPads, but I wondered about the XRiver tablets mentioned in the article.

A quick search on XRiver's site shows that while they do have a stripped-down model for $1500 (8.4" display, 256MB RAM, 64MB flash memory. Yes, 64MB flash memory), a decently-spec'd XRiver tablet will run about $2500.

No wonder Royal Caribbean is looking to further integrate iOS into their mobile strategy. There's no 3G coverage on a ship, and they are currently using devices with almost no flash memory, so they can get by fine with the 16GB WiFi iPad. Compared to what they pay now, that's "five for the price of one". Maybe Dell's marketing head meant to say that the iPad is too cheap to sell to enterprise customers?

Skiing and Snowboarding in Spain

A friend of Nelso recently went on a snowboarding vacation in the mountains of southern Spain. He was nice enough to bring along his iPhone and collect data in Sierra Nevada, a small village in the area. The data is of course also available in Spanish.