Google Maps – Now includes Terrain

by Mike Churchill

On 27 November, 2007, Google released an update to Google Maps: they are now including terrain as an optional view. This is especially cool for high-relief areas (mountains, hiking trails, and the like). For example, here are three views of the Grand Canyon:

The Google Maps 'Map' View of the Grand Canyon

The ‘Map’ view is pretty boring, and other than showing the size of the National Park and its boundaries, does little to convey the grandeur of the location.

The Google Maps 'satellite' View of the Grand Canyon

The ‘Satellite’ view gives a better overview, but rather than helping, the various colors of the real terrain create a confusing image.

The Google Maps 'terrain' View of the Grand Canyon

The new ‘terrain’ view gives the best impression of the feel of the location: the deep rift is clearly visible and the correlation between the valley and the park boundaries are clear. In addition, there are labels identifying certain landmarks. In city locales, the terrain view shows large buildings as well.

This new feature comes at a cost, however: while the terrain view is new, the ‘hybrid’ view which displayed the satellite imagery with the roads overlayed is now a sub-option under the ‘satellite’ view. Choose the ‘satellite’ view, and a “Show Labels” checkbox becomes available when hovering over the satellite button. Selecting the checkbox will generate the hybrid view. The hybrid view shows vegetation and other non-geological features, so the two views offer complementary insight into certain areas.

Google Content Network Opt-out Change

By Mike Churchill

I noticed something interesting tonight as I went to set up a new PPC campaign in Google AdWords. As I went to opt out of the Content Network, I got the following message:

Image showing Google Content Network Opt-out popup message suggesting that one could set Content Network biids and stay in the Content Network

I am guessing that this means that Google has been having some problems with increased opt-outs from the Content Network, and are taking steps to try to stem the loss. Not a good thing; not a bad thing; just an interesting thing that I thought I would share in case you had not seen it yet.

On Researching Patents, and a New Google Patent Filing on Expanded Snippets

By Bill Slawski

This is my first post at the SEM Clubhouse, and it is a pleasure joining the team at KeyRelevance.

I’ve been reading patents from search engines for a few years to see what can be learned from them. A number of patent filings usually come out each week from the major search engines, and they often provide some insights into how search engines work.

This past week was no exception, and one of the filings that caught my eye was about the snippets that are shown on the search engine results pages that you see after performing a search.

Since this is my first appearance here, I also want to provide a brief introduction into why I like to look at patent filings from the search engines.

Continue reading

Search Marketers Bill Slawski and Li Evans Join KeyRelevance

By Christine Churchill

I have some exciting news. Two people who I greatly admire are joining Jim, Mike, and the rest of the KeyRelevance team. The soft spoken and intellectual Bill Slawski and the energetic Li Evans are now on board and I’m extremely happy about it.

The travel and client schedule of the last summer convinced me it was time to make some changes. I like having a small company, but the workload was stressful. When your daughter looks in your eyes and says “Mom, you work too much” you know its time to hire. 😉

Bill and Li are established search experts and are well known in the community. They are positively brilliant on search marketing and they are also a blast to work with. I’ve also know each of them for a long time. Years ago when I was on the SEMPO Board of Directors, I frequently used Bill as a sounding board. My position on the Board was to represent smaller SEMs and I would bounce ideas off Bill and always know we were mentally in-sync. I first met Li a few years ago through the High Rankings Forum where I am a moderator. Li was an active contributor and always impressed me with her original creative responses to discussions.

Okay, enough rambling. Here’s a little background on Li and Bill.

Liana (Li) Evans is well known in the search industry for her energy and creativity. Li specializes in social media marketing, blog optimization, link building and viral marketing. She has a background in both Public Relations and information technology and is a regular speaker at industry conferences including Search Engine Strategies and WebmasterWorld’s PubCon. Li also is the creator and main contributor to Search Marketing Gurus and writes for Search Engine Guide and InformIT.

William (Bill) Slawski is a much respected SEO who was one of the founders and administrators for the Cre8asite Forums with my dear friend Kim Krause Berg. Bill is also a featured columnist at Search Engine Land on search related patents and research and writes a monthly column on small business issues. Bill speaks regularly on search engine algorithms and search engine optimization at industry conferences such as Search Engine Strategies and Webmaster World’s PubCon. Bill has the gift of taking complex issues and explaining them in layman’s terms and is also the creative force behind the popular blog SEO By The Sea.

We’re thrilled to have Bill and Li as part of the company and now maybe with more help we’ll be able to post more on this much-neglected blog. :-)

It can’t be the MIDDLE of July….my body is still in June.

By Christine Churchill

June felt like one long road trip. I had three conferences in a four week period. All were absolutely fantastic and I wouldn’t have wanted to miss any of them, but I wished I could have stretched out the time between conferences.

The first week of June was Danny Sullivan’s new conference SMX Advanced in Seattle where I spoke on the Better Ways panel with Alex Bennert (Alex is a class act and I hope to be on another panel with her soon), Greg Boser (who never fails to make me smile with his quick quips), Jim Boykin (whose company WeBuildPages should rightfully be called We Build Links), Todd Friesen (Todd claims to have come over to the white hat side, but he’s not fooling anyone – we love him either way), Cameron Olthuis (Mr Social Search Extraordinaire), and Aaron Wall (SEObook himself). You can see Danny trying to keep this motley panel in check in the picture below.

Better Ways Panel at SMX Advanced in Seattle June 2007

There have been numerous articles covering it and the rest of the show, so I won’t cover the content of panels here. To me, the conference was a networker’s dream – the small size and relaxed feel made it a fabulous place to informally develop business relationships. With the web becoming more socially oriented, having a network of friends and business acquaintances to call on is growing in importance. That may not be the case for all, but I’m finding I’m working with more of my peers than ever before. I’ve included a few pictures below just for fun.

From Left to Right are Stephanie, Alex Bennert, Jane Copland and Christine Churchill

Matt Cutts attacks a cupcake
This is my all time favorite picture of Matt Cutts. It really shows his fun side and why he is loved by SEOs.

SMX Lunch
Did I mention the food at SMX was fantastic? It reminded me of food at SES in the early days when we still had hot meals. Here’s a picture after lunch – notice no box lunches! From the left are Jonathan Hochman, Stephan Spencer, Christine Churchill and Dave McClure.

Todd Malicoat
Todd Malicoat after “yet another strike” during the bowling match at the SEOMOZ party.

The second week in June was SES Toronto hosted by Andrew Goodman and Chris Sherman. Andrew did a super job of planning out a phenomenal conference. He came up with some new sessions and elegantly mixed new with seasoned speakers to give the Conference a fresh feel. Andrew, pat yourself on the back because you pulled off a great conference! I also have to congratulate Incisive for moving the conference to June – the weather then was perfectly delightful. The only downside was I somehow managed to miss my friend Toronto native Brendan Kerin which bummed me out because I wanted to drop a baby gift by to his lovely wife. Sorry Brendan.

My third conference of the month was in Denver, one of my favorite cities in the world. I have fond memories of Colorado from my college days when I attended Colorado State University and from visiting my parents who lived in Estes Park, Colorado. The Denver conference was the High Rankings Seminar which I always enjoy because it’s an excuse to combine work with friendship. Jill Whalen, Scottie Claiborne, Karon Thackston, Jennifer Laycock, myself, and my charming husband Mike Churchill gave presentations on a variety of search related topics.

The weekend after the conference I played hostess to my friends and gave them a tour of some of my favorite Colorado places – Boulder, Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Trail Ridge Road over the Continental Divide and then through parts of ski country. It was a thoroughly enjoyable trip and it was great to be able to share places I love with people I care about. The gorgeous picture below was taken at Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. In the picture from left to right are Christine Churchill, Scottie Claiborne, Lee Laughlin, Kaitlin, and Jill Whalen (in the back – yes, the one putting rabbit ears on Lee).

Friends at Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Pig Asking Pig How to Eat? Yahoo….

by Jim Gilbert

Rumor has it that new Yahoo executives are running around the trough asking other Yahooers about the direction of the company and what needs to be done. Ain’t that a laugh!

From my experience with the Yahooers I’m allowed to interact with they are part of the problem — not part of the solution.

Many recommendations have been forwarded to Yahoo (from little ole me) regarding their PPC systems and to date NOT ONE has ever been implemented. But then, what do I know since I’ve only used PPC systems for years to manage many, many client accounts? A couple of these recommendations were almost guaranteed to put lots of $$$$ in Yahoo’s pockets.

So Yahoo… this is an open challenge to see if your new executives are serious about making improvements and money! Talk to the “right” people — yes, I’m one of them and not that hard to find.

You might even want to keep in mind that at least one high level executive on “Wall Street” values my opinion. That’s kind of funny… Wall Street wants my opinions on Yahoo, but Yahoo doesn’t.

VERY INTERESTING: Confessions of an Advertising Man

Jim Gilbert

“Stumbled” across a post at “Stuntdubl’s” blog today ( Confessions of an Advertising Man ) and feel everybody should read it! By the way it was originally written by David Ogilvy whom I do not know personally but gained a lot of respect for.

I mean, just consider some of the quotes from his book:

  • The creative process requires more than reason. Most original thinking isn’t even verbal. It requires “a groping experimentation with ideas, governed by intuitive hunches and inspired by the unconcious.”
    Strong statement… it can be learned (if you have what it takes), but nobody can teach it to you.
  • They copied all they could follow, but they couldn’t copy my mind,
    And I left ‘em sweating and stealing, a year and a half behind.
    I’m telling you all… the best Internet Marketing tool on earth is still the BRAIN!

Of course there are a few good ole East Texas common sense quotes that were possibly missed, but unless you are from Texas you probably will not notice. Like these that tend to get handed down from father’s to son’s (Hey… it’s a guy thing):

  • Damn Son! If you don’t have time to do it right the first time, when the hell do you think you’ll have time to do it over again?
  • Hey Boy! Quit thinking so much of yourself…… even blind hogs find acorns ocassionally.

There are a few more REAL good ones, but I’ll reserve them for the next meeting in the bar.

Firefox Browser Oddities?

Oh how we “loved” Firefox! They seemed to do EVERYTHING right with each new update and version………. Until Now!

With Version we began encountering “strange” things:

* Can’t seem to get complete control of the tabbing. Acts like it has a mind of its own.

* Slow? Seems slower than ever.

All of a sudden ( and I really hate to admit this ) we switched our default browser back to I.E. 6. Not 7 though — we are not that crazy.

If you knew us (me) you would really understand what a drastic change this is (moving back to I.E.).

Please… somebody tell me it’s an isolated issue.