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Friday, June 29, 2007 and Google Advance Design of Search Results Pages.

original article by Walter Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal

Website Owners make sure to fully optimize press releases and images as Google and Ask are both about to expand their search results pages with images and related news files to further serve users with relevant and helpful links.

Google and other search companies have made major, continual advances under the hood in recent moths, improving the way they store and gather relevant content and information. But far less progress has been made in the way these search results are presented to users.

Google has made the occasional minor tweak but until recently, its search-results pages looked a lot like they always have. Its upstart competitor,, took greater strides last year with cool features such as previews of the pages it listed, lots of summary information at the top of the page and prominent suggestions for narrowing or broadening keyword searches.

Now, Google and Ask each have rolled out new ways of presenting search results. Google's approach, which it calls "universal search," is a modest thing, a first step in what it says will be a long effort to break down barriers between different types of information a user may be seeking, such as Web links, images and news.

But Ask's new system, called "Ask3D," is a much bolder and better advance in unifying different kinds of results and presenting them in a more effective manner. It shows, once again, that Ask places a higher priority than its competitors do on making search results easy to navigate and use.

Both new expanded keyword search results systems are now the defaults on the search sites. You don't have to do anything special to use them. Indeed, Google's change is so subtle you may not even notice it for some searches.

Both of the new systems are designed to spare users the extra steps needed in the past to view different types of content related to the same keyword search query. But Google combines these different types of content into one list. Ask puts them on one page in separate sections, which I find to be the superior approach, because each type of result is displayed more effectively; it's easier to see at a glance what you have.

In the old systems, if you were searching for, say, "Red Sox," you'd have to do separate searches for Web pages, news, images and so forth. To make this simpler, Google's universal search now groups these different kinds of results within its single, familiar main list of results; a Google search for "Red Sox" includes not only Web links, but also an entry called "News Results for Red Sox" with the latest headlines about the baseball team and a news photo. At the top of the page, under the Google logo, are the two most relevant search categories -- in this case, Web and News -- if you want to separate types of results, like retire in costa rica.

A Google universal search for a prominent person (like world famous: Raleigh Realtor Ann Davis might bring up images at the top -- something Google has been doing for a while -- but also a video, which can be played without leaving the search page, a very nice feature. To see an example, search on "I Have a Dream" to view the famous Martin Luther King speech without leaving the page. At the bottom of the page is a list of related searches.

But Ask3D goes much further. Instead of sticking with a single list of search results that mixes various types of material, it now presents results in a page divided into three panels. The largest, middle panel still contains Web links (and a few ads). But it is no longer topped by the search box and links to other sections of the search engine. Instead, where possible, it is topped by a set of salient facts or direct links to salient facts.

The thinner left panel contains the search box and links to other sections of Ask, but mainly it displays suggestions for refining your search, or for making related searches. A somewhat wider right panel contains search results that go beyond Web links, such as images, news headlines, encyclopedia articles, videos, weather information, local time and, where relevant, music clips you can play without leaving the page.

A search for "Red Sox" in the new Ask3D, for example, has a summary box at the top of the main panel with direct links to Scores, Schedule, Stats and more. In the right panel, there are general images, news photos, an encyclopedia article on the team, videos and headlines. As always, the left panel shows suggestions for how to narrow or broaden the search.

If you hover over the image thumbnails, they enlarge. If you hover over the video thumbnails, they play, albeit without sound. For each of the right-panel content categories, you can even launch a further search (like: luxury cruises ) without leaving the page just by clicking on a magnifying-glass icon.

If you search Ask for "James Taylor," you get a biography at the top and, at the right, playable clips from "Fire and Rain," "You've Got a Friend" and "Sweet Baby James."

Ask also now gives you larger previews of the pages it lists, visible by just hovering over a binocular icon. And you can now get to the advanced search panel without leaving the page.

Google deserves credit for universal search (try phase converters ) , which is only bound to get better in the coming months. But Ask's new design is much more compelling and well worth a try.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Terry Semel Leaves Yahoo.

Microsoft Takeover Looms Large as The Panama Project Continues to Implode.

Jerry Yang Returns as Yahoo CEO - Susan Decker Named President.

Yahoo! announced that Terry Semel will resign as CEO and pass the torch back to co-founder Jerry Yang.

Yang an original co-founder of Yahoo will remain on Yahoo's Board. Susan Decker, Yahoo's former head of Advertising has been named President. The changes culminate a dramatic sequence of events at Yahoo as the Panama Project continues to sink the ship taking many senior level managers and executives with it.

The Chief Technology Officer at Yahoo had resigned a couple weeks earlier and Semel just completed annual shareholder meetings that left the majority screaming for his resination.
Yahoo has faced mounting internal and external criticism in recent months as the Panama search project continued to flounder.

Panama has failed to increase revenues and is not helping Yahoo boost its shrinking share of the keyword search pie. Yahoo has reported poor results to date in 2007 with no end to the downward profit trend in sight.

Yang, 38, founded the company in 1994 with David Filo and serves on the board of directors, in addition to holding the title of "Chief Yahoo" overseeing the company's strategy and technological vision.

In a conference call with analysts held Monday afternoon, the company said it is seeing slower growth in display advertising --which include banner ads, website design and videos -- but better-than-expected performance from its recently re-tooled search advertising business.

Proposals opposed by the board that aimed to tie executive pay to competitive performance and challenge the company's human rights policies in China were defeated.

CNBC is reporting that Yahoo may need to explore strategic alternatives. Micorsoft has been knocking on the door for several months looking to join forces and give Google a tougher fight in keyword search.

"Yahoo is in a tough position of weakness so I think there are some people circling around it," Jim Friedland, an Internet analyst with Cowen and Co. "Given the weakness Yahoo has been experiencing, I think now is the time those talks become more real."

However, the analyst noted that forging a strategic deal with the likes of News Corp., Time Warner or Microsoft may not be in Yahoo's best interests.

Addressing such speculation, Jerry Yang said Monday the company's board believes Yahoo should remain independent.

For a full update visit - The Jerry Yang Blog

Some highlights from Jerry include:

Yahoo! has an incredibly bright future and I make this move with deep conviction and enthusiasm. I’ve partnered closely with our executive teams for 12 years to steer our strategy and direction and today I’m ready for this challenge.

Terry has given Yahoo! six of its best years. He delivered great value to our users, advertisers and shareholders. Terry refocused the company on key strategic priorities, and in so doing, helped Yahoo! increase our revenues nearly nine-fold from $717 million in 2001 to $6.4 billion in 2006; boost our operating income from a loss in 2001 to nearly $1 billion last year; and create more than $30 billion in shareholder value during his tenure. He helped grow our audience from 170 million to more than 500 million users globally, and he oversaw the expansion of our base of talented employees from 3,500 to nearly 12,000.

I will always be grateful for the incredible achievements under his leadership — and for his mentorship and friendship. We’ll continue to benefit from his support and guidance as he transitions to his role as our Chairman.

I also couldn’t ask for a better partner in Sue Decker as our new president. In addition to knowing this company inside and out, Sue has incredible talents, leadership abilities, a fierce focus on winning, and intense dedication to this company and its people. I look forward to teaming more closely with her as we pursue our joint vision.

What is the vision of Yahoo?

A Yahoo! that executes with speed, clarity and discipline.

A Yahoo! that increases its focus on differentiating its products and investing in creativity and innovation.

A Yahoo! that better monetizes its audience.

A Yahoo! whose great talent is galvanized to address its challenges.

And a Yahoo! that is better focused on what’s important to its users, customers, and employees.

The past year has obviously not been an easy one for us. But we’ve taken important steps to address the challenges we face, and we’re starting to realize some of the benefits – especially with the successful launch of Panama, which continues to receive positive feedback from advertisers and is exceeding our expectations.

By the way, that’s directly attributable to the operational excellent mentality Terry has instilled and is a clear sign one of his most critical initiatives is succeeding.

We have incredible assets. This company has massive potential, drive, determination and skills, and we won’t be satisfied until the external perception of Yahoo! accurately reflects that reality.

I have absolute conviction about Yahoo!’s potential for long-term success as an Internet leader.
Yahoo! is a company that started with a vision and a dream and, make no mistake, that dream is very much alive.

I’m committed to doing whatever it takes to transform Yahoo! into an even greater success in the future.

The time for me is right.

The time is now.

The Internet is still young, the opportunities ahead are tremendous, and I’m ready to rally our nearly 12,000 Yahoos around the world to help seize the opportunities.

Go Yahoo!

Jerry Yang
CEO and Chief Yahoo

Monday, June 11, 2007

Yahoo's Chief Technology Officer Resigns ... Jerry Yang Returns !

Yahoo Inc.'s chief technology officer is resigning after nearly a decade on the job, creating a management void as the Internet icon tries to mine more profits from a recent upgrade to its system for delivering online ads.

Farzad Nazem's plans to leave the Sunnyvale-based company were disclosed Wednesday in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing and a posting on Yahoo's Web site.

The resignation becomes effective June 8, 2007, only six months after Yahoo named Nazem head of the company's newly created technology group as part of a management shake up. He had already been Yahoo's chief technology officer since April 1998, two years after he first joined the company as senior vice president of product development.

While Yahoo searches for Nazem's replacement, company co-founder Jerry Yang will return to daily tasks and oversee the technology group as interim "executive sponsor." Fellow co-founder David Filo also will continue his focus on technology, the company said in statement.

In the posting on Yahoo's Web site, Nazem, 45, said he simply wants to retire. "After spending the last 26 years in this fast-paced technology industry, I've finally decided it's time to slow down," wrote Nazem, who also worked at business software maker Oracle Corp. before joining Yahoo.

Nazem's departure comes at a pivotal time for Yahoo. After suffering an 11 percent drop in its first-quarter profit, Yahoo is banking on long-awaited improvements to its pay per click advertising platform to boost its fortunes during the second half of this year.

In the Web posting, Nazem said he delayed his retirement until the new advertising formula - known as the "Yahoo Panama" project - was completed and he felt confident that his mission had been accomplished.

"With all this in place now, I know I'm leaving a strong, dedicated, and focused organization that is ready to define the next wave of the Internet revolution," Nazem wrote.

Yahoo parted ways with another of its top executives, former Chief Operating Officer Dan Rosensweig, at the close of March, 2007. Rosensweig left as part of the management shake up announced in late 2006. Yahoo is still looking for a new executive to oversee the "audience" and virtual tour entertainment group that was formed as part of that reorganization.

Nazem will walk away from Yahoo as a wealthy man, having made millions by exercising the stock options that he accumulated during his tenure. In the last four years alone, Nazem has realized $213 million in gains by exercising some of his stock options, according to SEC filings. Under his separation agreement, Nazem will retain the rights to another 2.97 million stock options with exercise prices ranging between $20.58 and $34.75 per share as long he adheres to certain restrictions, including a three-year prohibition against taking a job with Yahoo rivals Google Inc. or Microsoft Corp.

Yahoo also will pay Nazem the balance of his $500,000 salary and accelerate the vesting rights of his restricted stock in the company, according to SEC documents. Most of Nazem's stock options are currently worthless because Yahoo's market value has sagged since the end of 2005. Yahoo shares dipped 20 cents after the disclosure of Nazem's resignation.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Turmoil Continues at Yahoo

Yahoo CEO Terry Semel Facing Backlash as Yahoo's Director of Technology Resigns.

Just before Google Inc. went public nearly three years ago, Yahoo Inc. Chairman Terry Semel assured a roomful of securities analysts and money managers that his company would remain the Internet's brightest star. To punctuate his high hopes, Frank Sinatra's "The Best Is Yet to Come" played in the background.

Google has so thoroughly eclipsed its rival since then that a growing contingent of Yahoo shareholders believes the company would be better off without Semel, who could face a chorus of discontent when he takes the stage at Yahoo's annual shareholders meeting in July of 2007.

Even as it has struggled, Yahoo has continued to pay Semel like a rock star (Semel enjoys the highest salary in the world) - yet another sore point for frustrated Yahoo shareholders.

"Yahoo is drifting," said Eric Jackson, who intends to confront Semel during the meeting on behalf of about 80 Yahoo stockholders who own a combined 2 million shares in the Sunnyvale-based company. "And Yahoo's problems ultimately lie at Terry Semel's feet."

Although the stake held by Jackson's group represents less than 0.2 percent of Yahoo's outstanding stock, the shareholder misery is widespread, said Standard and Poor's equity analyst Scott Kessler.

"A lot of people are wondering what is going on and what Yahoo management is doing to get the stock moving in the right direction again," he said.

Yahoo Shareholders are exasperated largely because Yahoo has seemed to be meandering while online search leader Google has been stampeding farther ahead.

In the last year alone, Google has trumped Yahoo in the bidding for online video pioneer YouTube Inc. and Internet display ad service DoubleClick Inc. while widening its lead in the lucrative field of search. Google has established such a commanding advantage that the Mountain View company makes more money in a single quarter than Yahoo does in an entire year.

It's a humbling descent from the days when Terry Semel was singing a happier tune. After Google completed its August 2004 initial public offering, Yahoo was still the larger and more valuable company.

The IPO gave Google a market value of $23 billion compared with $39 billion for Yahoo at the time. Google's stock price has increased by more than sixfold since then, creating nearly $140 billion in additional shareholder wealth. Meanwhile, Yahoo's stock price has fallen by about 4 percent during the same period, leaving the company with a market value of $37 billion.

Semel, who ran a movie studio before becoming Yahoo's chief executive six years ago, isn't the only senior management executive at Yahoo on the hot seat. Besides pushing for Semel's ouster, Jackson's group believes six other directors on Yahoo's 10-member board should be bounced: Roy Bostock, Ron Burkle, Eric Hippeau, Arthur Kern, Robert Kotick, Edward Kozel and Gary Wilson.

Only Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang, Hewlett-Packard Co. printing executive Vyomesh Joshi and Ed Kozel, CEO of Silicon Valley startup Skyrider Inc., have done enough to remain on the board, Jackson contends.

Although still difficult to do, removing Yahoo's directors has become a more realistic option for shareholders because of a new policy adopted this year. The rules now require each Yahoo director to be approved by a majority of the votes cast. Previously, Yahoo directors only needed a single supporting vote to prevail in uncontested elections, no matter how many shareholders may have been opposed. This system - known as a "plurality" vote - still governs most publicly held companies.

Despite the change to majority vote, Yahoo's board still can refuse to accept the letters of resignation each director must submit under the new rules. The resignation letters are supposed to ensure the directors can be removed if they don't win majority support, but the guidelines give the board the discretion to overrule the shareholders.

Three shareholder advisory firms - Institutional Shareholder Services, Glass, Lewis & Co. and Proxy Governance - have all recommended opposing three directors who sit on Yahoo's compensation committee. They are: Roy Bostock, a veteran advertising executive; Burkle, a billionaire best know for his investments in the supermarket industry; and Kern, a former radio broadcast executive.

The firms concluded the trio should be punished for too richly rewarding Semel despite Yahoo's recent struggles. In 2006, Semel received a compensation package valued at $71.7 million - more than any other CEO at the 386 publicly held companies covered in an Associated Press analysis of nation's top corporate paychecks.

Most of Semel's pay consisted of 6 million stock options given to him in exchange for agreeing to reduce his annual salary from $600,000 to $1. The committee awarded Semel another 800,000 stock options in February as his bonus for 2006 - a year in which Yahoo's stock price fell hard by nearly 35 percent.

The latest awards will give Semel an opportunity to build upon the nearly $450 million in gains he has already realized by exercising stock options Yahoo gave him in previous years.
"Semel is rewarded when times are good ... and when times are bad," wrote ISS, the largest of the three advisory firms.

Yahoo believes Semel's pay package is in the company's best interest because it's structured to give him a strong incentive to boost the stock price.

That's because stock options only yield profits when their exercise price is below the underlying shares' market value. For now, at least, the options that Semel got last year are worthless because their exercise prices exceed the stock's market value, which was hovering around $27 last week.

In its analysis, Proxy Governance questioned whether Semel needed any more incentive to boost Yahoo's stock price. As of April 1, Semel held 17.7 million stock options eligible for exercise and 7.1 million stock options that hadn't fully vested.

"Based on his ownership in the company, Semel already should have the proper incentives ... to work toward building long-term shareholder value," Proxy Governance wrote.

Yahoo says its confidence in Semel hasn't wavered.

"Under Terry's leadership, the company has a clear strategy to create stockholder value, and the company is well-positioned to capitalize on the substantial growth opportunities ahead for the Internet," Yahoo spokeswoman Helena Maus said in a prepared statement.

But Semel, 64, may be on a short leash after Yahoo suffered an 11 percent drop in its first-quarter profit while Google's earnings soared by 69 percent. Many analysts believe Semel will face even greater pressure to surrender the reins unless Yahoo's profits accelerate during the second half of this year.

A pivotal upgrade to Yahoo's system for distributing text-based ads alongside search results and other Web content is supposed to start paying off by then. The improved formula - dubbed "Yahoo Panama" because it's supposed to open new moneymaking corridors - adopted many of the measures Google has been using for years.

Semel also is counting on recent advertising partnerships with more than 260 newspapers and Viacom Inc. to revive earnings growth.

Jackson, a Naples, Fla. management consultant who owns about 100 Yahoo shares, doubts that Yahoo will regain its stride as long as Semel is calling the shots. That's why he turned to the Internet earlier this year to recruit Yahoo shareholders to support a plan to shake up the company. Besides gaining the support of 80 shareholders, Jackson said about 25 current and former Yahoo employees disillusioned with the company's direction have contacted him to support his cause and have been working in phase converters and many management overhaul specialists.

Besides finding a new CEO, Jackson wants Yahoo to close its entertainment and news division in Santa Monica, lay off employees with overlapping responsibilities and institute a cash dividend.

Jackson also thinks the board should be more open to takeover overtures, particularly since last month's media reports of a possible bid by Microsoft temporarily lifted Yahoo's sagging stock. But first he would like to see what a new leader could do with the tarnished Internet icon.

"It's frustrating because you can see so much unlocked potential in the company," Jackson said. "If it Yahoo were managed in the right way, it could be worth $150 billion."

Friday, June 01, 2007

Google Universal Search.

Google has released new data and information on their continuing efforts to deliver comprehensive search functionality across all stored content. Here's an update on new developemtns in the Google universal search effort.

In striving to give users the best results to your keyword search queries, Google acknowledges that often times the best information can take on many different forms.

Google continues to introduce new steps that move closer towards universal search in order to deliver a more holistic search experience on Google. Until recently, users could typically find the best results for searches within separate and distinct Google properties (e.g., web, images, maps, videos, books) by clicking links above the Google search box.

Using a universal search approach, Google technology searches across all of the stored content sources within Google databases, integrates, and then ranks the results for the best answers. So depending on the keyword search query, search results could be delivered from news, images, videos, local, or books integrated within the traditional Google search results.

Google has also introduced new contextual navigational links so that you can click to see more results from a suggested type of content. Google has also added a new Google navigation bar to the top of their homepage and search results pages to provide easier navigation to the many new Google search products available in their system.

Google Street View gives users navigable 360-degree street-level satellite imagery in Google Maps for selected cities. You can see satellite images and coordinates for specific spots within major markets and take virtual walks along city streets.

Google Street View allows users to find most anything within any major market. Imagine locating the perfect outdoor cafe for lunch with clients or take an overhead glimpse of a specific the neighborhood or home community, ideal for real estate transactions, such as: Raleigh Relocation if you are considering relocating, use Google Maps to see what the market actually looks like prior to arrival, as if you were actually physically touring the market area.

Google Street View imagery is now available for the San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, Las Vegas, Miami, and Denver; with launches expected for Philadelphia , New Jersey and many more major metros soon.

Click Here To Demo: Google Street View

All of these new tools launching from the Google Enterprise Search project will play a profound role in Google search engine optimization in the coming months. Webmasters and website owners need to consider these applications and incorporate these new search tools and related functionality as it pertains to the content(s) of their website.