RMIUG Meeting Minutes - Google-fest 2003:
All Things Google
Minutes of the (Tuesday) May 13th 2003
Meeting of the Rocky Mountain Internet Users
Group (RMIUG): "Google-fest 2003: All
The meeting started at about 7:00 pm with
a full house of over 100 people in attendance.
Dan thanked the RMIUG sponsors for their
MicroStaff (www.microstaff.com) generously
provides food and beverages at the meetings.
The company provides Creative and Technical
Talent for Web, Interactive Media, Marketing
Communications and Software Development
ONEWARE (http://www.ONEWARE.com) -- a Colorado-based
software company that provides semi-custom
web-based applications, is the sponsor of
the RMIUG meeting minutes.
NCAR - for use of their wonderful facility.
Dan solicited announcements from the floor,
then asked warm up questions for the meeting.
Dan then introduced the first speaker for
tonight: Chris Sherman (firstname.lastname@example.org),
Associate Editor, Search Engine Watch; President,
Searchwise; Editor, SearchDay newsletter
POWER SEARCHING WITH GOOGLE
Chris spends a lot of time working with
SE technologies. He showed us a PowerPoint
presentation on Gettysburg, as an example
to point out that this is the work of Nordwig
Google is successful, because it's simple.
The interface has:
- advanced search pages
- advanced search operators
- useful goodies
- the Google toolbar
ADVANCED SEARCH PAGE -
Find(s) results [according to]:
- with all words
- with the exact phrase
- with at least one of the words
- without the words
- one can also specify 10, 20, 30 or
> results in this section
Chris encourages setting your preferences
to return 100 results at a time.
[ADV SEARCH PAGE] FILTERS -
- Language - several of them
- File Format - allows you to limit results
to other than html web pages. For example,
Filetype .xls will bring back only .xls
[Excel] files, etc. The Google database
is currently about 4 billion pages. So
looking for needles in a haystack is easier
with this file type limiter. But you only
get the first 110 K of information loaded,
- Date - this is a very squishy filter
in search engine technology. Most searches
report on date file was the last [thing
to be] updated. The same is true of Google.
- Occurrences - returns results where
my terms occur ... it looks at the link
structure to do this.
- Domain -
- Safe search - porn filter. Defined
as "objectionable text or images".
- Similar - similar text
- Links - this filter is good for finding
pages that link to the returned page,
and is a great tool for competitive intelligence
or finding invisible web resources. For
this filter you type in the site name,
Most search engines use a combination of
semantic and linguistic techniques. But
because the web is so unstructured, this
becomes complicated. So Google looks at
the link structure - kind of like citation
analysis. It then asks who is doing, for
example, the links "gov?" or "Uncle
Bob's trout fishing"?
So the idea is that the link structure
plus the language is what yields the quality
Google's database is updated once a month
(referred to as the "Googledance")
Webmasterworld.com = watches the people
that are watching Google
To get the 4 billion, they have to crawl
10 - 15 billion sites, perhaps 80,000 servers.
To update that database on all those servers
takes time. They keep handling 200 million
searches during the Google dance. The complete
index is updated every month. The bank links,
in general, are only updated monthly.
Q - If it's only [updated] once a month,
why do they crawl my site once a week?
A - crawling isn't updating, and [that's
good because] they think your site is worth
Google's goal is to refresh the entire
web every day.
Part of the problem with the invisible
web is that there are all these invisible
databases, and crawlers can't get into them.
So databases are impenetrable. But it [the
engine] CAN find front pages.
[ADVANCED SEARCH PAGE] TOPIC SEARCHES -
- Froogle - scans catalogues. It turns
them into bitmap images, and thus is able
to do it through optical character recognition.
It also have voice recognition. They have
a lot of technologies under development
Other search technology topics -
- US government
[ADVANCED SEARCH PAGE] ADVANCED SEARCH
- Allintitle Intitle - finds words in
the title, but also in the body of the
- allinURL: - all keywords must be in
title. So it's really an "and"
operator Inurl - in URL, or in body of
Other advanced search pages:
- advanced image search - no search engines
are doing true image search (w/optical
character recognition), but rather looking
for contextual clues. Words surrounding
the picture, captions, etc. Filtering
a little bit stricter with images. Google
used to be called backrub.
They [engines] didn't used to need such
- advanced group search - this can look
back to 1991 into the old Usenet groups,
and all kinds of other stuff.
USEFUL GOODIES -
- Dictionary - you click the underlined
item and it pulls up a definition.
- U.S. Street Maps - enter address, city
or zip code (Mapquest, or US maps)
[brief question & discussion related
to privacy issues]
- Directory - this draws from [the] open
directory project (volunteer directory).
If you click on any link that doesn't
look like a search result, it gives you
page ranked directories, rather than alphabetical
- phonebook command - searches the entire
- rphonebook - searches only residential
- bphonebook - searches only business
Q - what is the "I'm feeling lucky"
A - it takes you directly to the page Google
thinks is the best match for your search.
It also has a really good spellchecker.
The links on the blue bar go to the dictionary.
Q - if a document on a web page makes no
sense, what do they do for QC?
A - page rank is only one of more than
100 components of their search algorithm.
Chris thinks that people obsess unnecessarily
over page rank.
Phonebook - really handy.
Wildcards - Use asterisk for exact word
match: i.e, "Waiting for *"
Google Toolbar - Caveat to remember: If
you use [the toolbar] in a public setting,
it remembers everywhere you've been.
Q - What is Google doing with this?
A - Right now, Google does not have personalization
ESSENTIAL TOOLBAR FEATURES -
- search web, site
- page rank
- page info
- highlight button
- will highlight query items; this is
very useful for long documents
- word find button
(toolbar.google.com) (unfortunately it's
not Mac friendly)
Dave's toolbar - works w/Mac, and ALL search
OPTIONAL TOOLBAR FEATURES -
- Google features [on] right click -add
search options -category button -voting
buttons - lets you tell Google your opinion
on a page
Q - How does Google handle flash?
A - Google will follow links in flash.
But it doesn't do full text imaging.
"EXPERIMENTAL" TOOLBAR FEATURES
- Combined Search button
- Google compute
Conclusion: despite the simple interface,
Google is very powerful. It has a great
set of reference tools.
Warning: the Google toolbar is highly habit
More information on this topic:
Trivia Q - with Page Rank , what's the
A - Larry Page, founder of Google.
Trivia Q - Where does the name Google
A - it's a bastardized spelling of googol,
i.e., a one with a hundred zeros after it.
Dan introduced the next speaker:
Tim Moynihan (email@example.com) is
Google's Regional Sales Manager for Mountain
States and heads up the Denver office of
Google. Tim gave a talk entitled, "Search
engine advertising - the evolution to Pay-per-click
and how to make your ad dollars count."
Search Advertising - It's all about Results
Google's new office is based in the DTC.
It opened in August of 2002 and they're
staffing up. They have two more spots open,
and they currently have sales personnel
and account executives.
Tim explained he was going to cover how
to generate leads and [through] effective
- Growth of "Search" as a category
- Search Marketing and ROI
- Google AdWords
- Case Study (From a business as related
in the NYT)
- What's New and Upcoming
1) Growth of "Search" as a category
Search comprises 79% of online [advertising]
activity, trailing only email, at 93%, as
the top online activity (w/local content
accounting for 60%). Google touches 6 categories.
So how do you get in front of 80% of the
[Google has as their front end] one of
the largest Linux clusters in the world,
which drives their 200 million searches
per day, 6 billion per month. They're the
# 5 global web property, with 78.8 million
Google users are naturally concentrated
where there is electricity. They have 67
international domains. [geographic diagram
showing lights - US and Europe show the
most dense usage]
2) Search Marketing and ROI [return on
How does [using Google] facilitate ROI?
Because it's much cheaper on a cost per
lead basis, compared to other direct marketing
methods. (i.e., direct mail, banner ads,
yellow pages, email, and search, in order
of most to least expensive)
More specifically: According to their March
2003 report, Golden Search, US Bancorp Piper
Jaffray estimate cost effectiveness on a
cost per lead basis for various online direct
marketing methods as follows:
Search $0.29 Email $0.50 Yellow Pages $1.18
Banner Ads $2.00 Direct Mail $9.94
In addition, they estimate that search
revenue in 2002 was close to $1.8 billion,
and predict it to rise to $7 billion by
2007, noting that this is a conservative
Their report is available to their subscribers
or for a fee at:
Q - how does that break down across different
market segments? (retail, etc) A - he has
no idea as to market segmentation
Q - what is a "lead?" A - capturing
client information (i.e., you have to fill
out a form)
Discussion of email spam as ineffective,
because you as a consumer are not receptive,
compared to when you're actively searching
Discussion of relative benefits of relevant
advertising popping up and of the fact that
Google is appropriately labeling their advertisements
as such More discussion of what's along
the top (ads) vs. what's along the side
of the Google search page[s].
Dan comment: FCC contacted some search
engines (not Google) because their links/advertising
3) Google AdWords -
This [service] allows extra reach through
Google's syndication partners (AOL, AskJeeves,
For AdWords, "all you need is $5 and
15 minutes." ($5.00 activation fee
is all it costs). In addition, it's a very
flexible system. Maximum CC Click and CTR
[click through rate] determine in what position
your advertisement will fall.
Positions Ads --
Take time to develop your keyword list,
it's very important. CPC [cost per click]
is determined by where you want to have
your ad fall, position wise.
You're not necessarily gonna pay the maximum
cost click, either. The discounter automatically
discounts you to paying one cent over your
nearest competitor's high bid. "skyscraper
In addition, AdWords rewards relevant ads.
Users respond to relevant ads:
- position is determined by CPC and CTR
to ensure relevancy
- poorly performing keywords are automatically
Discussion of adjustments impacting ad
Q - do you think that click through rate
depends on brand awareness, what it says
in the ad, or both? A - he thinks it's primarily
Q - is click through rate computed on a
per keyword basis? A - usually [it] gives
a thousand impressions/keyword, but the
keywords are throttled, and CTR is refreshed
for the next 1000 impressions
Google Keywords - Relevant keywords work!
- get specific - targeted keywords equal
more customers i.e., "Microsoft support,"
for example, vs. "tech support,"
- think like your customers - what are
they searching for? i.e., "get rid
of computer virus" as well as "anti-virus
software" will increase CTR.
- be comprehensive - for example, use
specific product names, brand names, plurals,
and common misspellings.
- group words by shared themes - i.e.,
put all "flower" keywords in
one ad group, and all "gift"
keywords in another ad group, for example.
- Landing pages - lead users to the advertised
product or service, and create a smooth
transition from your ad to your site,
because you want to be consistent and
Make it easy:
What works on Google: Testing Creatives
- test multiple versions of ad creative
- create targeted ads, not branding slogans
- include offer, etc. - use the keyword
prominently. This drives higher CTR's.
Learn from experience:
- low cost of change -track progress toward
goal - whether you're driving sales, or
driving traffic, whatever your goal is,
always track it. -test and learn - test
always, and often. -make changes as you
go - [take advantage of this] flexible
medium that allows changes
4) Case Study - (from NYT)
Before Google - she used a banner campaign,
which landed no customers. She spent 20%
of her revenue on advertising, which generated
$30,000 in monthly sales.
With Google - she spent 5% of her revenue
on advertising, which led to increasing
her sales from 10 suits a month to over
120 suits a month, and generated $100,000
month in sales
She now uses Google AdWords exclusively
as her advertising vehicle.
5) What's New and Upcoming
Content targeted advertising - this [will
be] another distribution channel for AdWords.
It will broaden the advertising reach, bringing
precision search to content pages.
Trivia Q - what is the name of Googles'
A - Froogle
Dan - Is there a standard content template?
A - sort of
Q - [to Tim] - what's the best practice
for tracking URLs?
A - what is the objective [it depends on
your objective]? Driving sales? [Whatever
the objective] the key is inserting a tracking
code that's unique to keyword and partner,
then mapping it back to your server logs.
Q - [for Chris] - rankings in sports are
done by power - top ten better than bottom
fifty. Is an analogy available like this
for page ranking?
A - yeah, that's a good metaphor. It's
more complex than that, but still a good
analogy. Like: w/CU, a faculty member link
is going to "weigh" more than
a link from a student.
Q - I'm having a problem with commercial
sites. If I'm Toyota's site, am I less likely
to pop more often? A - Google tries to create
a balance. ______________
Trivia Q - what is Google's headquarters
referred to as?
A - Googleplex!
Q [to Tim] - regarding tracking, do you
provide information to customers as to the
effectiveness of your keywords?
A - yes - number of clicks, rate, etc.
It's a snapshot.
Q - do you provide a service to improve
A - yes, if you spend over $5000.00 a month,
we'll work with you on the metrics. For
less than $5000.00 a month, you get the
Mountain View [California] specialists.
Q - what do you see as the next big push
A - content targeted advertising. There's
2 billion being spent on PPC.
Q - What about privacy concerns? I understand
there's a telephone to address lookup. With
maps. Can you talk about that please?
A - Google is crawling public information
across a number of spectrums. It's available
on the web. They put it in their index,
and enhance it. If your number's publicly
listed, you're included. It's easier online
to access it, but it's still coming from
older sources. You can opt out of it, on
the phone book page.
Q - is there any way to scope [localize]
who's seeing my ads to a [particular] region?
A - yes, by specific countries, and specific
languages. But not currently by zipcode.
Dan comment - you can turn off syndication
and content to their partners (like AOL,
Q - does the wildcard asterisk work with
A - yes
Q - regarding page ranking - is there anything
that's a "bad" link? (i.e, worse
than "no" link?)
A - absolutely. There's the example of
linkfarms, which attempt to try and get
Google to think there are a lot of links
to one page. Google will likely penalize
your page if they see that happening.
Use link:site.com to see who's linked to
you. Avoid bad neighborhoods.
Q - what about web rings?
A - they're okay if they're about sending
you information. Google doesn't mind, unless
it's being done to mislead, or spam.
Trivia Q - What is Google's spider or crawler
A - Googlebot
Q - do you think Google needs to have a
"chinese wall" ? A - Chris doesn't
think it's that much of an issue - if people
sense it's unethical, they'll "walk."
In other words, there's too much danger
of a search engine shooting them in the
Last Trivia Q - what year was Google founded?
A - 1995
Q - Googles' doing a good job. Who else
is even close?
A - there are some good ones. Inktomi ,
Teoma (of AskJeeves), the new Hotbot (Lycos)
- only place where you can search all of
them (including All the Web).
All of these people [companies] have improved,
because of Google, because they set a new
standard. It provides alternatives, and
you should try different search engines.
It's a good idea to have 3 - 5 major [engines],
let alone [in addition to] the specialty
engines, of which there are thousands.
There are email mailing lists set up for
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Tentative upcoming RMIUG meetings:
- July - "Blogging - The New Mouthpiece
of the Net"
- TBD - "Web Technology - What the
Present and Future Holds"
- TBD - "Starting an Internet/Software
- TBD - "Domain Update - Legal Issues
& Technical Changes"
- TBD - "Nonprofits on the Net -
A Web of Activism"
- TBD - "E-Learning: Did the Hype
Ever Pan Out?"
- TBD - "Instant Messaging vs. Email