April 27, 2006

My favorite Firefox Extensions

Posted in Category: Work — Amr Awadallah @ 10:39 am | link | | comments (6)
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This is a list of my favorite firefox extensions.

I divide the list into two groups, the first group is misc stuff, and the second group is specific to search:

1. Misc Extensions

  • AI Roboform Toolbar: I really cant live without Robofom, it keeps track of my logins/passwords across Firefox, IE, and Netscape (yes, I use all three browsers, one for each of my personalities (home, work, school), this way I keep the cookies separate.
  • Live HTTP Headers: An invaluable tool for debugging what is going between the browser and the server. I need this frequently to track how different sites are tracking their visitors, for example I can easily see if the Google Urchin beacon is triggered, etc.
  • GreaseMonkey: You all know what this one does, it allows you to easily write scripts that can dynamically change what the pages looks like. For example, after you install GreaseMonkey extension, install this script “Evil Google Logo” then visit Google for a nice surprise (to install the script, right click on the link then select Install Script from the context sensitive menu that pops up).
  • IE Tab: This is a cool extension that lets you open IE tabs inside Firefox :), for example, I use it so that I can open adcenter.msn.com in firefox (since it only works with IE).
  • Extended SatusBar: This extension gives you a bunch of additional information in the status bar at the bottom of the firefox window, for example it tells you the size of the page, the average download speed and the time it took to download the page.
  • Extended Link Properties: Lots of additional info for the properties sheet you get by clicking on properties from the right-click menu.
  • FasterFox: Lets you fine tune firefox for super speed. Its very easy to use, mostly plug and play, and gives you choices from “default” to “Turbo Charged” performance (advanced features include prefetching, block flash popups, and many others)
  • FlashGot: Download one link, selected links or all the links of a page at the maximum speed.
  • DOM Inspector: Inspect the DOM of HTML, XUL, and XML pages

2. Search Extensions:

  • CustomizeGoogle: Allows you to change the Google SERP by adding extra information, e.g. you can add numbering for the results and remove unwanted information (like ads and spyware tracking)
  • GooglePreview: Adds website image thumbnails to both the Google and Yahoo SERPs
  • Aggregate Yahoo! & Google: Whenever you do a query on Google, both the Google and Yahoo results will be interleaved together (so you get the first result from Google, then the first result from Yahoo, and so on)
  • Advanced Dork: You can highlight a word or phrase, right click to get the context-sensitive menu, then choose from over 15 Advanced Google Search Operators.

If you frequently use any other firefox extensions, then please let me know by commenting on this post.

Thanks,

— amr

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April 24, 2006

Google’s Adwords to Adsense double charging trap.

Posted in Category: Work — Amr Awadallah @ 11:52 pm | link | | comment (0)
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I got an interesting link from a comment at my blog, while typing a reply for that comment I figured its really good enough to be a posting of its own 🙂

The link is for a short youtube video (below) illustrating how some sites abuse the Google adwords program to buy clicks for cheap (or do black hat SEO tricks to show high in natural results) then turn around and make money from high value adsense ads on phantom gateway pages that have no real content to speak of (in many cases these pages are just a bunch of adsense listings or another google adsense search).

Google is not incentivized to track down those fraudsters since Google double benefits from this situation, not only do they get paid for the adwords placement from those fraudster sites, but they get paid again from the adsense ads on those sites.

Without further adieu, here is the video clip:



This is another example of a horrible adsense page:

http://mathoon.aldokkan.com/


Aldokkan Spam

All that this page has is photos for a couple of well endowed Arab artists (actors, singers, belly dancers, etc), however, the only clickable links on that page are Google Adsense ads (please do not click on any of those ads, don’t want that fraudster to make any more money than they already getting).

This site (single-page really) has been live on Google for ages, not only are they live in the adsense program, they are also the number one natural (algorithmic) web result when you search for some of those Arab celebrities, for example:

http://www.google.com/search?q=hayfa+wahby

Hayfa Wahby is the name of a new Arab pop singer, note that yahoo search does not show that fraudster site as number one and correctly shows a good content site (makes you wonder whether Google boosts web result relevance for sites that use adsense, that would certainly make them more cash).


Hayfa Wahby

I am sure the creator of that page is having so much fun getting all the rev share he can get without doing any real work.

How big of a problem is this for Google ? I think its big, and it will soon bite them in the behind.

— amr

PS: I think yahoo does have some similar issues, but since our content-match program is not as widespread as Google’s we do not have as much abuse (yet!). Also, we have the luxury to fix this problem before the cash from it becomes an oozing honey pot (as it is for google now).

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April 20, 2006

Google Q1 2006 beats revenue estimates.

Posted in Category: Work — Amr Awadallah @ 3:06 pm | link | | comment (0)
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My estimate for their sequential revenue increase was 15%, they came in at 17%. That extra 2% is an additional $50M (they did $2.25B instead of the predicted $2.2B), so where did this $50M come from ?

If you dig deeper in their results, the Google O&O revenue (owned and operated, i.e. their own sites), you will see that it was up 18%, as opposed to 16% for the Google Network revenues (these are mainly revenues from search partners like AOL, Earthlink, Ask, but it also includes a small fraction from Adsense content ads).

So, one of two things happened, either (1) Google gained more marketshare than Comscore estimates (Comscore estimated 15%, hence my estimate), or their cost-per-click was higher in Q1 than in Q4. The $50M possibly came from both of the above, since (1) Eric Schmidt that they are seeing marketshare increase, and (2) I heard from many sources that Google has been increasing the minimum bid for many of its keywords, which forces advertisers to pay higher (though this might also lead to lower coverage and CTR if the advertiser does not increase their bid and drops out).

As for my prediction of the Google stock falling, I was obviously off there 🙂 (more like 🙁 ), the after hours are currently showing a $33 increase, and I think that is due to profits rather than revenues. Google’s costs did not go up as high as expected in Q1, that allowed them to get a $2.29 EPS which is significantly above the $1.98 predicted by analysts.

— amr

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April 18, 2006

Does Google boost google finance pages in their index ?

Posted in Category: Work — Amr Awadallah @ 9:11 pm | link | | comment (0)
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In a previous blog entry I commented about how my blog was coming up as the first result when you search for “Google Hatred” on google.com.

Well, I was now knocked out of the first position (I am second now), and to my surprise the 1st position now goes to Google Finance, makes you wonder whether google is boosting the relevance for their own content.

Here is a screenshot:


Google Hatred search

Another interesting query from my http referrer logs is “Google 2006 Q1 earnings“, I show up as 3rd and 4th results for that query (SearchEngineWatch beats me for top two spots, though I claim my entry is more relevant 😉 ).

— amr

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April 11, 2006

Google will meet 2006-Q1 earnings, but stock will still drop ;)

Posted in Category: Work — Amr Awadallah @ 9:10 pm | link | | comment (0)
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After the miss from last quarter, all the analysts cut their sequential revenue growth estimates from the 25 to 30% range for 2005-Q4, to just 9 to 15% range for 2006-Q1. I think Google will come in within that range, however, I predict that the stock will still drop as this is what folks expected, and I do not see them beating it by much (GOOG is at $409.66 as of today’s close). Furthermore, I have a gut feeling that Google will surprise us with some large increase in costs, specially for sales and marketing.

Next week should be super fun with both Yahoo (4/18) and Google (4/20) releasing earnings.

Cheers,

— amr

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