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Google Caffeine the new Google search engine

Google have announced a new infrastructure for their search engine codenamed "Caffeine". They are inviting developers and power users to help test out the new infrastructure which will allow them to "push the envelope on size, indexing speed, accuracy, comprehensiveness and other dimensions".

So what is "Caffeine" about?

The new search engine infrastructure is a secret project that a large team of "Googlers" has been working on for "several months". Whether they are responding to Microsoft's latest offering in Bing is unclear and it may have been something that has been in the pipeline for a lot longer. Unlike previous updates, Google are announcing that this is a completely new architecture and isn't actually built on their existing infrastructure and as such you will need to go to http://www2.sandbox.google.com to try out the new search engine.

Apparently, most standard users won't notice much of a difference in search results but Google assure us that if you are viewing the results as a webmaster, developer or a power user then you should see some subtle differences in the actual results returned and how they are presented. Once you have performed your new search, if you would like to help Google with any improvements, a link will be presented at the bottom of the page entitled "Dissatisfied? Help us improve" and you can use that form to air your views (remember to include the word "caffeine" in the subject line though).

How do the results differ?

As far as we can see, not a lot! There are some differences though, and whether this is just whilst it is in development we're not sure, but there were no sponsored links appearing in any of the searches we did. Also, there are some differences in the actual results that are returned. For example, searching for "Website Design Darlington" or "Web Design Darlington" produces the following results in Google "Caffeine":




Notice the two bottom websites? Well, in the standard Google search they don't appear at all on the front page (or in fact in the first 10 pages that I checked!) so there are obviously some major algorithms changes when they work out what is a relevant or appropriate result to show.

As an SEO company, this is something we'll really have to keep an eye on and maybe even start to perform SEO based on the results we see in the "caffeine" sandbox.


MDS Solutions

Tags: ArchiveGoogle

Twitter Search Widget

Twitter have released a "search widget" that you can customise and place on your website to show all of the latest "tweets" that have been made on a particular subject.

What is the Twitter Search Widget?

The Twitter Search Widget is essentially a piece of javascript that you can place on your website. The javascript will create a kind of "news ticker" type section that will display all of the latest "tweets" that are made on a particular subject.

How do I get the Twitter Search Widget?

You'll need to first visit the Twitter Search Widget page where, if you are logged in, you will be presented with a few required details on what you want your search widget to contain:



You'll need to enter what it is you are actually searching for (notice that in the example above we've decided to show all entries that match Web Design OR SEO so that we get results from two different terms).

You can also customise the Twitter Search Widget so that it displays a title and a caption that suits your intended use.

If you want to change the colour and size of the widget, you can also do this by going to the "Appearance" and "Dimensions" tabs on the left hand side, however you won't notice these changes on the above preview page:



If you click the "Finish & Grab code" button at the bottom of the page you should also be presented with a textarea containing the javascript that is necessary to put the widget onto your site. Assuming you have done all of this correctly, you should hopefully see something like this:


MDS Solutions

Tags: ArchiveTwitter

The Domain Renewal Process

As we've just gone through the process of expiring and renewing some of our domain names, here's a quick guide to the domain renewal process that we've gone through to both expire and renew our existing domain names.

Why do I have to renew my domain name?

Simply put, you don't actually own a domain name, you only ever lease or rent it. For a ".co.uk" domain name, the lease is just two years but some other domain names (such as a ".com" or a ".net") can be leased for up to ten years. Personally, I think it's better to use the smaller amount as it means if you no longer want the domain name then you are not paying for it for x number of years after you have actually finished with it. It also gives the opportunity for someone else to use the domain name if they have a new purpose for it.

Usually what will happen is that once you start approaching the date that the domain name renewal is due, your domain registrar (we use 123-reg.co.uk) will contact you to notify you that your domain name will be expiring soon and that you should renew it as soon as possible if you want to keep it. I think I received renewal emails with 45, 30, 15 and 7 days to go until that notice was due but this may vary depending on your registrar.

What happens when I reach the renewal date?

Well, you won't actually lose your domain name, however within 30 days of this expiry date your website will actually stop responding to that particular name so anyone visiting your URL won't actually see your website. Your domain name will then go into a state known as "domain suspension" which will last for another 60 days. During this time, your domain name still won't respond to any requests but you are still recognised as the "owner" so you can still renew it at any time and it won't be released back to the public.

How do I renew or expire my domain?

This really depends on the domain registrar that you use, however both of these tasks should be relatively simple. For the renewal process, our domain registrar simply allows us to go through the initial payment process and we just enter our details to automatically renew for another two years. If we want to expire the domain we have a couple of options:

 

  1. Do nothing. The domain name will automatically expire once this 60 days is up and will then get released back to into the public domain for someone else to purchase.
  2. Use the "Cancel with immediate effect" option which essentially expires the domain name so that it does not have to go through the 60 day period before being released back to the public (note: this option may be called something different depending on your domain registrar).

Personally, I'd just go with the second option if you really don't need it anymore.


MDS Solutions

Tags: Archive

Google Accounts on Twitter

In a very clever move, Google have published a list of Twitter accounts that they frequently use to keep users updated about their products and services.

Why is this move clever?

One of the main uses of Twitter for many people is the real time search that it offers. With the recent problems in Iran, Twitter showed just how useful it could be in getting news out to people quickly. Google, I think, have realised the benefit of this and whilst they have been "twittering" for a while they haven't really publicised it that much. Now, with the post that shows all of the Google twitter accounts, they've essentially tapped into the market share that Twitter have been gradually taking away from them (in the past, Google seemed to be pretty much the first and only stop when you wanted to find out something urgently). Not only can people now find information via a traditional web search in Google, they can now use Twitter which will actually return results that Google have posted up to Twitter! I think that's a great marketing strategy as they really get the best of both worlds...



What do Google "Twitter" about?

There's a wide range of different Twitter accounts that Google use, but some of the main ones that interest us are:

twitter.com/Google - our central account
twitter.com/Blogger - for Blogger fans
twitter.com/GoogleNews - latest headlines via Google News

There's even a Twitter account for jobs at Google if you feel like a new challenge!


MDS Solutions

Tags: Archive

Google Maps Driving Directions Gadget

Google have released a handy little gadget that you can use on your website to allow users to get driving directions to your office (or any other places that you wish to enter) and embed it in your site with just one line of javascript.

What does the Google Maps Driving Directions Gadget do?

The Google Maps Driving Directions Gadget allows a user to enter their starting point via a small textbox inserted into your page, select a destination point from a list of designated end points and then view both a map and text instructions on how to get from one point to the other. First, you have to go to the gadget setup page and enter a pipe separated list of end points:


Then, enter the title of the gadget along with the size and border colour that suits your website. Click the "Get the Code" button and a simple line of javascript will be generated that you can place in a suitable place in your site. e.g an example of what is generated for the above image looks like this:

 

<script src="http://www.gmodules.com/ig/ifr?url=http://hosting.gmodules.com/ig/gadgets/file
/114281111391296844949/driving-directions.xml&amp;up_myLocations=DL1%203TP%20%7C%20Darlington&amp;
synd=open&amp;w=320&amp;h=55&amp;title=Directions+by+Google+Maps&amp;brand=light&amp;lang=en&amp;
country=GB&amp;border=%23ffffff%7C3px%2C1px+solid+%23999999&amp;output=js"></script>


This could be a very useful gadget, especially for those people who have multiple offices and want to provide an easy way for customers to find good driving directions on how to find you.


MDS Solutions

Tags: ArchiveGoogle

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