Google News

Although Google localized its search for the German-speaking part of Belgium, Google News is only available in French and Dutch. So I sent this message to the Google News Team…
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Hi there!

I noticed that you also have localized versions of Google News. Usually I use the English version of Google, although I’m located in the German-speaking part of Belgium.

There are 2 localized version of Google News for Belgium: French and Dutch. However the third official language is German. We are close to the borders of Germany, Holland, Luxembourg and also next to the French speaking part of Belgium.

Maybe there could also be a Google News in German for us German-speaking Belgians. We’re the only real Belgians left as we don’t argue over separatism… 😉

Given that there are only 68000 people living in our region, there are only a few news sources such as BRF (the public radio), Grenz-Echo (newspaper).

However being so close to many border, maybe the „Google News Belgien“ could include news sources from the local press as well as from the adjacent regions and cities: Luxembourg, Liege, Verviers, Aachen, Maastricht, Cologne, Bitburg…

If you need any help to identify any news sources for such a small specialized version of Google News, please let me know and I’ll use Google (and my other sources) to find those sites and newsfeeds.

Thanks for listening!

Joe.

Make more money, Steve!

To: Steve Jobs, CEO, Apple Computer

Dear Steve,

Today, I read that Apple cut the price of its iPod MP3 players. News.com has the full story as covered by Reuters and also created a 1 GB version of the iPod Nano. Price cuts are nice for the end-user as they get more bang for their buck – and you should get more sales, too.

However there are more ways to create more revenues which you haven’t thought about yet, have you?

Let Apple make more money and make my shares go up again! Read on… 😉

Steve, you and Apple should take a few hints from small companies which are creating lots of revenue by letting other people do the hard work. By leveraging your own web traffic to promote other products, you get a piece of the cake through the affiliate systems.

Many companies, big and small, run affiliate programs, letting other people promote their products and giving them a percentage on the sale. Sure, it makes only sense to use affiliate networks which perform well and you have got a lot of web traffic on your own sites to make the pennies count up.

Steve, imagine the revenue you could make by including affiliate links in the next update of Safari: change the links to eBay, Amazon, Fleurop, ProFlowers, DevDepot, etc. to their affiliate links. Somebody new to the Mac might also be new to the Internet. They tend to click everywhere, also on the bookmark bar. When they sign up for one of the services or buy a featured product, you get some real money in your pocket.

Yes, managing affiliate programs takes some time and effort. You have to weed out the less performing programs, update your affiliate links, look for new possibilities etc. However a single person can do this. Got any intern who’s just hanging around at the Infinite Loop? Let them take over. Just put some static links to in the Safari bookmark menu and toolbar. Those links point to a file on Apple site and then redirects to the correct affiliate link. Using this strategy, the bookmarks will remain up to date and you only have a single location where to update the links.

Maybe companies are already paying to be on the bookmark toolbar or menu. However there are more ways to monetize the browser’s real-estate.

Take this idea a step further: use Google AdSense on Apple’s pages. No, not all pages, but those pages which have lots of traffic and are not related to selling Apple products. Put those ads on the LivePage which is the default Home Page in Safari. Put affiliate links on the LivePage. Put Google AdSense for Search on the LivePage to allow people to search the web and get money for every click. Put Google AdSense ads on the QuickTime site. Hey, movie poster sellers would love this. Rotate affiliate links and Google Ads on the .Mac Home Page. Make some more money!

Use the affiliate programs of iPod accessory makers. Get some more money out of their pockets – actually their customer pockets, as you get a percentage on the purchases. Promoting Amazon’s iPod pages would be asked too much (probably).

Other companies are using affiliate programs from around the world targeted to their web site visitor needs and interests. What does Apple have to lose? Just try it for a week and check if your normal sales figures drop a lot or if you making more money from the affiliate programs. I bet you’ll get lots of additional revenue.

You should take a clue from small companies which see their web presence as a way to make money, not only by selling their own products but by linking to complementary products and web sites. There’s money out there to make and it only takes a little bit of effort.

Steve, I know you don’t have lots of time, so here are a few links to affiliate networks which you should check out:

Your web site visitors won’t mind that you’re using affiliate links to promote certain products, as long as you’re honest about it and they find what they expect.

I hope that you will consider using your available web traffic to create more shareholder value. Think about it for a minute or two and then test it for a brief period of time if it’s worth „sacrificing“ some bookmarks, toolbars, web site real-estate.

Best regards,

Joe.

PS: These tactics could also be useful for the developers of Firefox. Get some more money for the Mozilla Foundation…

Google Suggest as SpellChecker

Here is an idea for Google Suggest which I sent to the team at Google Labs…
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Hi there!

Very often, I use Google to verify the spelling of certain words. Usually, I rely on Google’s internal spell checker („Did you mean:…“) and then I compare the number of found pages to determine which spelling is the most widely used one.

As „Google Suggest“ displays the number of found results as I type the keyword, maybe you could create „Google Spells“ which displays the corrected spelling as well as the number of found results. That way, It’s very easy to see the most correct answer at first glance.

Maybe this could also be integrated into the Google Toolbar and also the forthcoming Google office application… Slogan: „Use a world wide audience to spellcheck your text documents“

Happy Holidays and all the best for 2006!

Cheers,

Joe.

Does your site work in all browsers?

A web site that is being launched should be optimized for all browsers. A visitor to your site won’t change their computer system (screen resolution, browser version,…) in order to see your site. Your visitor is likely to turn away quickly and go to another source for information because there are so many sites on the Internet.

Continue reading

Ad Blocking

While testing the new designs of some of our web sites, we discovered that parts of the sites (mostly banners) were not showing on our Dell desktop computer. We found out that this is due to the ad blocking features in Norton Internet Security 2005.

After testing a little bit more, we noticed that the ad blocking feature is using various parameters to decide which parts of the page to censor. As a result, we had to rename the files of the banner rotation system to exclude any wording like „banner“, „click“, „view“, etc.

It also helps, if images are larger than standard banners. Norton Internet Security seems to block anything that uses standard banner sizes, such as 468×60 pixels, but also files named „banner.gif|.jpg“.

A brief 2 day test on one of our sites revealed that around 4.2% of browsers block files named „banner.gif“.

14923 hits for /images/about.gif (120×10 pixel)
14291 hits for /images/banner.gif (120×10 pixel)

As these files don’t use any standard banner size, we can conclude that blocking is purely done on file naming conventions.

Is your domain name easy to remember?

If your domain name is not easy to remember, then many people will have problems to memorize your web site address. Therefore it’s recommended that you register more domain names with different spellings of your site name or trademarks. All those additional domains can be linked to your original web site which shows your visitors that you really thought about their user experience.

Also make sure that you provide alternative spellings for umlauts, diacritis, hyphens and other special symbols.

A few years ago, I registered the domain name „altavisita.com“ and linked it to „altavista.com“. I’m typing very quickly on my keyboard and at the time, my fingers always wanted to type „altavisita“ instead of „altavista“. As I was lazy, I decided that it would be easier to register the alternative spelling instead of training my fingers to the correct spelling.

Nowadays, I know how to spell Altavista correclty, i.e. Google 😉
(so we let the other domain name expire…)

This is the first post of 40 different web tips which I will post in days and weeks to come…