Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Spanish newcomer with a local advantage (update)

If you thought search in Spain wasn’t exciting enough, think again! TPI (Telefónica Publicidad e Información), reaching 11.89 million in benefits last quarter, is about to throw some spice into the mix, where Google, MSN and Yahoo are running the show and other, determined newcomers (Seekport) are playing to win their share. If you have been following the blog, on the 26th MSE (Multilingual Search) told you that MSN and TPI teamed up to create MSN Páginas Amarillas (MSN Yellow Pages) in Spain.

There have been rumors of more and today they became news. While TPI, the leading provider of Yellow and White pages in Spain, a Grupo Telefónica filial, is offering their service on MSN there is news that before the end of the year TPI hopes to launch their own search engine, called Noxtrum. Noxtrum will use its own website, independent of any portal such as Telefónica (uses Terra and Google).

The company’s developers are building Noxtrum, which will concentrate on searches in Spanish and Portuguese, but worldwide it seems. To cover other languages, TPI plans on reaching syndicate technology agreements, (with whom?!) to be able to use other specialized robots.

Now that the news is out, there’s not much to think about; it’s strategically perfect! Noxtrum will have a stunning LOCAL advantage. The search engine will not only index, but will also be backed up by TPI’s own business directory database (2 million listings) that feeds the Yellow Pages, White Pages and more. In Spain there is still a huge percentage of businesses that do not have a website, which are therefore invisible to consumers who try to find them online. With Noxtrum’s integrated database, when someone searches for a specific service or business category and location (ie. Bookstore in Madrid), apart from the traditional results, the search engine will supply a listing of businesses with or without a website, as well as their location and contact information. Of course, TPI also offers maps and directions, so its easy to assume those will be a part of the search results. In fact, just last month TPI incorporated a map service that allows users to find businesses and professionals within a 500 or 1,000 meter radius of a chose location. Sounding familiar?

The ranking algorithm will have a number of the typical criteria—one of these being the website’s link popularity. Naturally, that will not be the sole factor. So far, the company assures that ranking will not be influenced by paid advertising, nor will companies that pay for other TPI services have an advantage. There will be a pay per inclusion program, however. Fortis Bank experts say that TPI could benefit from the project by offering greater exposure to companies in the Spanish market that do not have an internet presence, pay per inclusion and the traffic it generates.

Search technology is not new to TPI, since they already use it in their Yellow Pages, where Internet users can search for businesses and professionals by activity, product, brand, business name, province or specific location. In fact, TPI enjoys nearly half a million clients in its editorial version and a total of 2 million listings. If we step away from the three giants and more than a few aspiring search players, TPI is in a very nice position to step up to the plate, if local is the focus. Looks like the agreement with MSN earlier was a sign: TPI is not going to miss out on search.


El País

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Information on Broadband Access in Italy

Information on Broadband Access in Italy




"Osservatorio Banda Larga" provides updated information on broadband access in Italy. The web site requires registration and provides up to date studies and articles from qualified journals and newspapers.

New Spanish search engine about to appear?

Could the Spanish 'Paginas Amarillas' (Spanish Yellow Pages) be about to launch a new Spanish search engine?

Lucía Bartolomé contacted 'Multilingual Search' regarding having spotted a site at under development. Currently only indexing is taking place.

Lucia says "The owner of the search engine is TPI (Telefónica Publicidad e Información), which is the owner of the spanish Yellow pages ( They intend to link the information on the SERP with the information in the Yellow Pages, and basic inclusion in the search engine would cost 32€. They don't specify whether it's a monthly fee or whatever. "

TPI haven't officially informed us of any developments - we'll investigate and update this story as it develops.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Hong Kong to Enact SPAM laws

The Direct Marketing News ran an interesting story that the Telecommunications Authority was getting ready to enact SPAM laws.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

MSN ties the knot with Telefónica Publicity and Information (TPI)

In an interesting move last week, MSN Spain, the leading portal in Spain and TPI (Telefónica Publicidad e Informacion), the principal business directory in Spain, have signed an agreement to integrate TPI’s yellow pages listings into a brand new channel of information, MSN Páginas Amarillas (MSN Yellow Pages). The joint venture makes available the 2 million listings in the TPI database to MSN Spain’s impressive 9.5 million monthly users.

Users will be able to conduct segmented searches, varying from activity, product, brand, company name, province, and city.

7 million registered MSN Messenger users in Spain will also be able to access the listings service directly from their messenger, by clicking on the “Actualidad” (MSN Today) tab, which among other things, features news and weather alerts.

Not only is the service available on the Páginas Amarillas (Yellow Pages) website, but MSN now has direct access on the MSN Spain portal to White Pages and a Maps/Directions service, two very popular TPI products.

According to Victor Castro, Country Manager MSN Spain, “with this agreement, MSN reaffirms our commitment to continue offering a web of information and communication services that adapts to the needs of our users. We are convinced that with the launch of MSN Páginas Amarillas we are making yet another step to situate ourselves as the leading online platform in the market. “


Marketing Directo

Friday, June 24, 2005

eBay takes a juicy bite out of Spanish e-commerce

As published in an earlier post, “Spanish E-Commerce: Optimistically on the rise,” there are now 4 million Spaniards who rely on e-commerce. With 1,000,000 users in Spain, eBay announced that it has now reached 25% percent of the growing number. The number also indicates a 15.8% of the 9,000,000 Spanish online users. Pretty impressive.

Naturally, the newly released book, entitled, eBay: Como Hacerse Rico En Internet (eBay: How To Become Rich on the Internet) has already found a place in all major bookstores.


Libertad Digital

Yahoo! Music Radio—Alive with the Spanish beat

On June 20th, Yahoo launched Yahoo! Música Radio (Yahoo Music Radio) in Spain, a service already available and successful in other European countries, but a newcomer to Spain. With more than 4 million users, Yahoo! Music is the top online music destination in Europe. It’s no surprise that Yahoo will now count on the popular service to grab another piece of the market by unlocking the music arena in Spain. The new service allows users to create and personalize their own radio channel, by evaluating and selecting favorite artists, albums and songs.

According to Noelia Fernandez, Director of Products and Services in Yahoo! Iberia, "In Spain, Yahoo Music is already very popular and has almost half a million users who visit the website to see videos and other contents. But the introduction of Yahoo Music Radio in the United Kingdom has created a new model, and has already captured many new users who are loyal to the product, doubling our audience."

The newly inaugurated service makes available 17 different radio channels, specifically programmed for the Spanish audience. Some of the channels include New Releases, Spanish Pop/Rock, Flamenco, Best of the 80’s, etc. The service is a part of Yahoo! Música, a free of charge service, which offers nearly 4,000 music videos, interviews, live performances and of course, an online store.



Europa Press

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Italian ICTLex wins Freedom blog awards 2005

The European section of Reporters sans frontières has chosen the Italian blog as one of the most active Blogs defending freedom of speech. was identified as the best blog in Europe, and one of the top 60 blogs worldwide.

Source: Corriere della Sera

Seekport nominates Elena Bonini Head of Index

Seekport Tecnologie, the new pan European Search Engine has nominated Elena Bovini Head of Index for Italian activities launched this past Tuesday.
Elena is responsible for the quality of results provided by and is based in Milano. She will coordinate the editorial staff and oversee all search and indexing activities in Italy. launches pre-registration procedure for .eu TLDs

Milano, June 23rd 2005 – leader on the Italian market of web site hosting, online visibility and part of the DADA Group has been officially authorised by EURid to accept preliminary registration of .EU TLDs as of today is currently accepting pre registration of .EU TLDs free of charge at

The offer is valid until August 31st 2005

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Fight over Misspelled "Googl" Domain In Australia

The Australian courts may determine who has the rights to misspelled versions of trademarked domain names. Accoording this story from ZNet a local Australian businessman bought the domain but the registrar decided to take it back as in their opinion it was an obvious misspelling of Google.
The businessman is now suing for the return of the domain and the decision of who has rights to misspellings in Australia will go to the courts.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Seekport expands it’s reach to the Italian community

Seekport, the innovative European search engine which is already active in Germany, France, UK and Spain, expands it’s reach to the Italian community and launches

Joachim Kreibich has answered our questions in a brief interview in connection with the launch of Seekport Italy:

1. Would you like to introduce Seekport - who is Seekport ? Where is Seekport based ? Is there going to be an office in Italy ?
Seekport is a pan-European search engine that provides an alternative to the US-based search engines that are dominating the market. We engage both in B2B as well as B2C activity. B2B means that we deliver search results to portals, publishers, ISPs, marketers etc. which incorporate our search functionalities in their online offerings. B2C is aimed at the end user - persons that want a high quality, country-specific offering with less spam and more relevant local content than what the US companies offer. Also, it is noteworthy that we are the only search company that already can offer vertical search - our users can choose if they want to search only in a certain thematic topic, and then only receive results from this category.
We are based in Germany, in Hamburg and Munich. Actually, the history of Seekport is closely connected to Infoseek - the persons involved are the same that made Infoseek to the most successful search engine in Germany in the beginning of the new century.

We have local index teams in all countries that we operate in, that ensure that the quality of the index is up to our standards and that the search results reflect the demands of the local country. Our teams are - next to Germany - in Paris, London, Madrid and now in Milano. At the end of the year, we will be present in 9 countries in Europe.

In Italy, we will start with a beta version, which will already incorporate the preview functionality. Other functionalities we offer will be introduced a little bit later, and we will also work heavily on the index in the beta phase. All users are welcomed to send us comments and suggestions.

2. Which is going to be the focus of Seekport - are your objectives a particular segment of the search market ?

See also above. We offer both general search as well as vertical search. Also, and very interesting for our B2B clients, we offer site and archive search, and this can be combined with the web searches, so that a B2B customer can display site or archive and web results on one page.

In general, we want to give our customers the best search experience possible. For example, in Germany we already offer various suggestions to make a search query more specific, so that the user really gets the search results he is actually looking for

3. Give us an overview of the main features of your search Engine

General country-specific or Europe-wide web search. Vertical (theme-oriented) web search. Example. A user is looking for virus. Now, this can be both virus as in computer virus, or health virus. If our user however chooses "Health" as his topic, he will only be displayed search results which deal with viruses such as HIV, hepatitis virus etc..

We will also offer clusters, query refinements etc. For our B2B clients, also the above-mentioned site and archive search are relevant.

4. The Seekport interface is geared towards country specific results. In Italy we have many English only web sites with a .it suffix - could you explain how you have organised country specific queries versus regional web sites ? Will for example web site acquire a better visibility than .it ones if the user runs a search selecting the pages from a specific European country ?

In general, we aim to have search results that are very country-specific. Regarding your example: We know that the great majority of users searches in its own language, and prefers to have results that are in his language. This no longer is a problem, as there are now - at least in Europe - more than sufficient web pages to all topics in the local language. If a user wants to have more results, he can choose to search in all indices.

Now, if an Italian user looks for information in English and does not restrict his search to Italy, an Italian page will not be given a higher weight than a UK one. The results will be displayed by relevancy.

5. I have noticed that you are providing a free service called seekbot where you provide an analysis of a web site page - The results show that on page content is very important, even more important than the title tag - would you like to further elaborate the importance of on site factors compared to off site factors such as external links ??

I am sure that you will understand that we will not elaborate on our ranking algorithm. Many factors influence the positioning. But most certainly, the factors described in seekbot are important. Seekbot is a tool for the normal webmaster that might not know too much about what is important for placement in search engines in general, and might not be aware of what he should do as a minimum.

6. Spamdexing is a very serious issue all search engines are closely looking at to remove poor quality web sites - where does Seekport stand on this issue ?

We very much disapprove of spamdexing, and try to keep our index as free of spam as possible. This is why we have quality teams; these teams - among other tasks - try to keep up with what spam is present in the local countries, and take on countermeasures. Of course technology plays an important part in this.

7. You have introduced a very interesting preview window function that allows the user to view the web site before actually clicking on the link that would take him/her to the web site: Would you like to elaborate on this original implementation on SERPs ??

We think all features that help users evaluate if a search result might be relevant for him are useful. As mentioned above, we have various functionalities that follow this goal, and there will be more to come

8. What is Seekpot’s view on local search and geotargeting ?

Very important, and we are working on it

9. Will Seekport have a Directory ?

No, this is not planned. I would like to stress that our vertical search offering is not based on a directory, but on an innovative technology that analyses the web pages that are crawled and then assigns a "theme"/topic automatically. This is an advanced technology, which we have registered for a patent

10. Can you give us any insight on your plans regarding Pay per Inclusion or Pay Per Click programs ?

We will of course have a pay per click program on our site (after all, we need to make money), but not in the very beginning. Pay per inclusion is not planned.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Online Marketing Europe-A Conference not to be missed!

Have plans for June 22nd-23rd?

Well, if you are serious about online marketing in Europe, you should be booking to Mallorca, Spain, to take advantage of the first Online Marketing Europe (OME), an International Congress and Exhibition for online marketing.

According to OME’s website, the conference “caters for many different fields including Online Marketing, Mobile Marketing. e-business and purchasing agents for the Media sector as well as technical service providers.” With a special focus on tourism and online payment systems, the exhibition will host some of the most renowned European companies and speakers:

Bruce Hoang-Interactive Advertising Bureau
Holger Kamin-Zanox
Alberto Díaz-Yahoo
Laurence Fontinoy-Ebay
Miguel Esteban-24/7 Real Media
Stephan Musikant-Ciao AG
Joan Grau-Media Contacts
Miguel de Reina-Google
Stéphane Cordier-AdLink
Dirk Freytag-ADTECH AG
Michael Stusch-EasyAd
Christian von Hammel-Bonten-Wired Card AG
Juan Carlos Fernández-Overture
Dr. Dorothee Ritz-MSN
Pablo Foncillas-Spainair
Dominique Loumaye-Espotting
Antonio Batanero-Sol Melia
Nils Hachen-denkwerk
Jens Leinert-Webtrade
Ingo Lippert-MindMatics AG
Marco van Sterkenburg-Bibit Global Payment Service
Dimitrios Haratsis-Eprofessional
Aquilino Peña-Wanadoo
Stefan Kipp-Hotel Reservation Service
Thomas Hille-T Online
Manuel Lopez-Planeta Web
Mike Beattie-Sepomo
Andreas Stefanis-Pago eTransaction Services GmbH
Dr. Thomas Gerteis-Global Media GmbH
Morten E. Wulff-TraceWorks
André Boeder-easyDebit ePayment GmbH
Joshua Novick-Antevenio
Gustavo Nuñez-Nielson/NetRatings
Juan Diego Oliva-TradeDoubler
Gabriel Pieras Coli-Sa Nostra
Marcus Koch-BVWA

Some of the agenda highlights include Miguel de Reina’s (Google’s Country Manager Spain & Portugal) presentation on search engine marketing and search engines as the motor of world tourism; Miguel Estaban from 24/7 Real Media will focus on search engine optimization and Eric Urdahl from will discuss: “One Step to European Diversity: European Targeting Solutions for European Sales and Media Campaigns.” The tourism industry will be in the spotlight, with presentations from Media Contacts,, Sol Melia and others.There is plenty to hear for online marketing professionals. For example, in his presentation, Juan Diego de Oliva from TradeDoubler will concentrate on the importance of return on investment in online marketing campaigns: “Are you squeezing the most out of your online marketing budget? Improving your Online ROI across Europe.” For a closer look at the agenda visit the OME website, offered in 3 languages.

What makes this international online marketing congress stand out, are not only its eminent speakers, but its specific concentration and unique focus on online marketing on Europe.

Spain breaks the mark--number of high speed connections grow

According to the Internet User Association (AUI), at the end of May, Spain reached 4,034,317 internet users with high speed internet connections; 3,124,517 users opted for DSL and 873,000 rely on cable connections.

Not surprisingly 80% of these connections originate from urban locations and 50% off all connections come from Madrid and Barcelona. To continue the trend, AUI maintains that prices will need to continue to drop. On average, a DSL connection in Spain costs 45 euros, incomparable to other European countries, where the user pays less and receives more (connection speed).

According to a study performed by Tatum, a Spanish commercial and marketing consulting firm, with 14,445,289 internet users, Spain has now taken 12th place in the world.


La Razon Digit@l

PayPal Speaks Spanish

Two weeks ago, PayPal took on yet another frontier, as they launched their services in Spain. 250,000 Spanish users were already taking advantage of this practical payment method in English. Now they will be able to enjoy the service in their own language (, much like in the U.K., Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Holland, Italy and France.

PayPal will be offering customer support to their Spanish customers and in the very near future will provide a buyer protection program, which in other EU countries provides 400 euro coverage in case the buyer does not receive the product they have paid for.

The service will initially be used to support Ebay España transactions, although PayPal promises that they will open the service to other online operations.

With e-commerce spending up 20% since last year, this is a timely move.




Spanish E-Commerce: Optimistically on the rise

In a recent study, and the Spanish E-Commerce Association (AECE-FECEMD) have come to some very exciting conclusions about the growth of e-commerce in Spain. While 1,837 million euros is relatively modest in comparison to European counterparts, the number indicates a 20% increase from last year’s internet consumer spending.

The second study of its kind, shows that nearly 4,000,000 (11.2 % of the Spanish population) over the age of 14 are making online purchases, leaving behind an average of 464 euros per person (an increase of 6%). Since last year, the number of internet users, converted into online customers has increased by nearly 500,000.

The director of, Ramon Palacio, recognized that the numbers still leave plenty to look forward to, but because average Spanish consumer falling under the young, mid-upper class and educated label, there is hope that Spain will soon join the rest of the European (EU) crowd.

The study underlines a recurring obstacle: In Spain people continue to feel uncomfortable and insecure buying online, while there is really no reason for them doubt the security of the transactions. 28% still feel uneasy about the payment process and 20% are reluctant to give out their personal information online. Nevertheless, online transactions are relying more and more on the credit card (65.4%), while the popular COD method has progressively declined(18.5%).

On the other hand, 58.9% recognize that the reason they did make an online purchase was because of the comfort and simplicity of buying online; 27.2% believe that buying online opens the door to more competitive prices and promotions and 18.1% claim that they are able to access a much wider selection of products.

Although minor (1%), there was even an increase in international transactions—52% of their online spending goes to international businesses. The reason behind these numbers, of course is a wider selection and lack of these products in Spain. While the increase is small, the implications are not to be taken lightly.

The leading, in-demand products? That is no surprise. Travel, electronics and books are the persistent forerunners; 30.4% of total spending went to airline, bus and boat tickets, 14% to electronics, and 12.7% to books.

80.4% of survey takers admit that their online purchase experience has met their expectations--the potential for continuous growth is more than abundant, but as and AECE underline: the key lies in educating and encouraging the average internet user to feel more confident and comfortable with online transactions.

For more interesting data, download the complete B2C Ecommerce Study 2005 (in Spanish).


Thursday, June 16, 2005

Scary Non-Privacy Issues in Europe

CNet reports in this article that though the European Union government failed to adopt Privacy legislation, requiring ISPs to record all electronic communication, it seems the individual countries have decided to implement the laws.

As the article mentions "U.K. communication service providers already retain data on customers' phone calls, e-mails and Web behaviour for one year, thanks to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act."

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

.EU Registrar Accreditation

Starting 11.00 (CET) on 16 June 2005, the European Registry of Internet Domains we will begin to accredit .eu registrars

Web Agencies liable for trademark infringements on .it Domain Names

A recent ruling of an Italian court has caused turmoil in the online industry. A maintainer was tried and found guilty of setting up a domain name on behalf of a customer, who was infringing trademark laws of a well-known enterprise operating in Italy.

In the online search industry the domain name may become a relevant part of the search strategy: keyword-rich domain names have been known to be favoured by search engines, giving them the ever-so-slight advantage on competition. It is not uncommon to seek a local presence by setting up a new local domain to acquire visibility.

The procedure to set up an .it domain name involves 3 parties:
  • The Italian Registration Authority (
  • A Provider/Maintainer
  • The end user
A maintainer is typically a web agency or internet provider who deals directly with The end user is required to undersign a formal request of activation (called la lettera di assunzione responsabilità). The maintainer is required to follow a technical procedure to finalise registration.

The provider/maintainer, formally considered neutral in the process, is now held responsible and accountable for damages caused to others should infringements on registered trademarks be raised by a 3rd party.

The court identified providers/maintainers as an active party in setting up a domain name. By registering a domain name that relates to a registered trademark, the sentence identified the actions of the provider/maintainer similar to those of a “counterfeiter”.

The judge defined domain name purchasing as a typical entrepreneurial activity where risk is involved: Providers/Maintainers requesting the activation of a domain name, possibly a registered trademark, are being warned: You are liable for trademark infringements in Italy.

Spanish newsletters on crutches

Internet marketing and e-commerce is really taking off in Spain. But one cannot argue that it is not a bumpy road with plenty of room for improvement. In their study, Netyidea, a Spanish internet marketing strategy firm, who analyzed Spanish e-newsletters from two points of view, (1) the newsletter as a valuable user experience and
(2) the newsletter as an instrument of customer loyalty, has come to a rather disappointing conclusion:
Spanish companies are not as conscious as they should be about the importance of newsletters to securing customer loyalty.

After signing up for a newsletter, a mere 65% actually receive one, while the other 35% are left with a truncated relationship. During registration, when collecting potential customer data, 58% of businesses settle just for the email address, making it impossible to segment their user base and personalise newsletters, correspondence and advertisements.

61% of newsletters aim to generate direct client response, while the remaining 39% are used purely for branding purposes. Despite their objectives, Spanish companies are leaving plenty of room for improvement during the entire cycle of newsletter mailing (from customer data collection, result analytics and strategic improvements).

Not measuring the effectiveness and performance of their newsletters is truly the most detrimental flaw. Only 40% of newsletters arrive with a mechanism that measures whether they have been opened at all. 52% are measuring actual click throughs, and only 35% include the necessary code to track the entire path taken by the user after opening a newsletter.

But there is no need to get discouraged; on the contrary, although occasionally stumbling, Spain is moving in the right direction.

China's Sohu Commits to Emphasize Search

Sohu seems to have adopted the Avis moto, "We try harder." And, taking the global Google out of the mix, like the Avis, Sohu is China's number two search engine.

The Chinese government has tightened restrictions on internet companies, and search engines and portals in particular. With a ban on two of the largest income producing search areas; adult content and gambling, Chinese search companies need to reach out to other industries.

The interesting aspect of this is the non-capitalist Chinese may have to embrace their antithesis.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Greek Internet Usage statistics

Half of the Greek youth (aged 15-29) are online. This is the one of the main findings of a recent report based on the profile of the new generation provided by the Department of Communication and Mass Media of the University of Athens. Taking into consideration that the current internet penetration of the general population reaches a bit more than 20%, this is promising news for the .gr community, which has to be taken into consideration for future investments on the local internet market.

But what really are the characteristics of the Greek internet user? This is a question replied by the 2004 survey* conducted by VPRC on behalf of the Greek Government. According to the data provided, the main reasons** Greeks use the internet are e-mail (21.5%), information seeking for products and services (17.7%), information for news, weather etc (11.7), gaming (11.5%), music (9.7%), education (7.8%), information for Public Services (3.2%), online shopping (2.3%) and rest (14.6%).

From those people that use the internet, 81,3% declare that have not proceeded into any kind of buy through the web, while 18.7% have done so. Specifically, 81% of those who have made a purchase repeated the action within 2004. Greeks usually buy books (21.1%), PC hardware/software (17.2%), travel tickets (8.3%), CDs (8.2%), apparel (7.6%), services (5.8%), auto parts (5.7%), DVDs (5.6%), hotel booking services (3.8%).

The reasons behind their decision to buy online rest mainly on the convenience provided by the web (28.2%), Unavailability of specific products in the Greek market (28.1%), competitive pricing (26%) and variety of offered goods (10.1%). The average yearly amount spent per user reaches 1.114 euro and the charges are mainly billed through credit cards (58%).

Crossing to the other side, those that do not shop online project their own arguments: No trust on the billing system (34.5%), no need to do so (31.2%), cannot see/touch the product (20.1%) and no trust on shipping services (7.2%).

While this is the profile of the internet user/shopper, according to another survey provided by Eurostat, 87% of Greek SME (Small and Medium Size Enterprises) and 100% of large businesses take advantage of the internet.

Concluding, the Greek Government has undertaken a number of initiatives to educate and facilitate users while at the same time assisting companies both financially and by providing the infrastructure with the aim to promote and increase the usage on internet.

(* Full survey is provided in Greek only, here)
(** Survey respondents were able to choose one single reply for each category of questions)

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Country-specific Links in Google Rise in Global SERPs

A recent thread at Search Engine Watch forums discusses the improving positions of country-specific domains in the Google SERPs.

Whether this is a change in the algorithm or just that more international webmasters are developing increased links in the international community has yet to be determined. But the most insightful post discusses the fact that local inbound links have a big impact for results in that locality. If you are looking to improve your site for a specific country get links from that country - even non-topic specific links (though this I am going to test before taking it as a fact).

Friday, June 10, 2005

Ukraine: Internet Censorship?

As the Ukrainian government has decreed the governing of websites by enforcing compulsory registration, before websites go online. This latest move has led to serious commotion among the local media, as well as Reporters Without Borders (RSF), who claim the decree is an infringement on freedom of speech and a giant leap towards internet censorship.

So far, obligated registration is practiced in China and Vietnam, notorious for their lack of freedom of expression and heavy censorship.

After the decree, adopted on May 18th, RSF is keeping a watchful eye on Ukraine, in fear that the country will fall victim to the same fate.

According to RSF, not only must websites register with authorities, but “to be allowed to appear, sites must not call for ‘a change of government through violence" or support "terrorism", not damage individuals' ‘honour’, ‘dignity" or ‘reputation’ and not post ‘swear words’ or pornographic content.”

For the time being, the Ministry of Transport and Communication assures the concerned organizations that registration of websites will only be compulsory for government websites.

The original decree, presented on April 27th, did in fact include both public and private sites, but apparently declared private websites optional, when it received severe criticism of an obvious attempt at internet censorship.

Reporters Without Borders

Yahoo! News

Russian RSS Portal launched


This week saw the launch of the first aggregation site for Russian RSS feeds, called In the same way as the popular Technorati or Bloglines service Kanban will work to become a central portal for the new RSS format.

Artyom Kashehlebov, Kanban project leader, explains in interview that it is important for people to realise that RSS is far more than simply news. They will be actively collecting blog, weather and other resource feeds through this site. The project is focused on encouraging a strong community through voting and comments on individual listings.

Artyom welcomes the marketing possibilities of RSS, “In the future we see income being generated from paid services and the new kinds of advertising it offers. We are working on this now”

A Video a Day keeps Digital Divide Away

Starting June 13th TgBlog will broadcast daily a 30" video on the Internet for those wanting to use it but don't know where to start.

TgBlog focus is information and useful tips on how to make the web part of everyday life to find a job, travel, listen to music and find useful information.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

China Requires Blog and Site Registration

The freedom of the web is limited by the country it is connected to these days.

As the article from Reporters Without Borders tells us China now requires every blogger and webmaster to register their online presence.

China appears to be leading the way in Internet despotism. Though the Chinese government is suggesting 75% jumped to and registered, I find that hard to believe. It is more likely the governemnt has a much lower number for Chinese based websites.

The funny thinng about this annoucement is that it comes at a time when big internet businesses are pushing into the Chinese market. Hopefully capitalism will help erode confidence in the Communist regime and eventually things will change.

El País Online: News for Everyone

Two and a half years ago, El País, the most read newspaper in Spain, began a paid online subscription service that baffled everyone. Anyone without a subscription was unable to walk past the headlines found on the homepage. After over two years of a very involved marketing campaign and considerable growth in subscriptions, on June 3rd, has once again opened its doors, eliminating any fee requirements to access their full contents. With so much useful information available online free of charge, clearly there is a very powerful reason behind the sudden change. El País claims that the decision for change comes with the evolution of the internet as a definite fountain of information.

Of course, something had to be done for the 45,000 subscribers that have been faithful to El País. El País will increase and improve the subscription services without a price increase. New services of added value will include: Unlimited access to Le Monde’s subscription service, ability to consult Agency EFE's real time teletypes with the main national, international, economic and sport news of the day; to follow the 24 hours, life CNN+ news, and to listen in on high quality radio emissions of Cadena SER, 40 Principales, Cadena Dial, M80 Radio, Máxima FM y Sinfo Radio.

The other advantage not to be overlooked--limited advertising. In fact, when a subscribed user signs in, all advertising considered to be intrusive, is eliminated.

"We are convinced--explained CEO of Prisacom, Manuel Mirat--that the internet media leaders must combine a free service, open to all, combined with additional paid for contents and services. This is the tendency we are seeing in the sector and the model that we want to apply."


Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Spain is Catching Up: Regional .es domain registration simplified

Until last week, registering a national .es domain name had not been very inviting. In fact, because of the excessive fees and bureaucratic requirements, an .es domain name has been so inaccessible that Spain has sadly found itself far behind the rest of the European countries in the number of national domain names registered. Last January, Spain had 86,153 .es domains, while Germany (5.45 million), United Kingdom (3.87 million), Netherlands (1.33 million), and Italy (1 million) lead the pack.

In a move to promote the use of the national domain, the Spanish government has now made registration a whole lot easier. In fact, they hope that the decrease in obstacles, as well as a mammoth 71% drop in the fees, will boost registrations and reach the projected goal of 400,000 within the next four years.

The government will deliver registrations through, a government branch, with the help of Arsys, a private domain name registration company and will promote registrations through a special guide which will explain the new simplified conditions, and the exact dates when they will take effect.

June 7th marks the start of the first phase, wherein all public and administrative agencies are now able to take advantage of the new process. The second transitory phase, between September and October, will open registration to commercial names, registered trademarks, denominations of origin, company names, foundations, associations and others with intellectual property rights.

All others will have to wait to register during the very last phase, which in all likelihood will culminate in a frenzy of registrations starting November, at a much more affordable price of 27.59 Euros. Of course, the price tag will be even more appealing, when registering through a domain name registration agency.

In order to register a .es domain name, the applicant will have to show that (s)he has ties to Spain. There are even plans to create a judicial system to resolve any conflicts that may arise, now that registering any .es domain is much more accessible. More information can be found by downloading the domain name registration guide (in Spanish) or by accessing Esnic, a branch of in charge of domain name registrations.

More exciting yet, is the .eu domain which will be available for registration starting this October. Like the .es domain, after going through the first two phases, full, unlimited registration will open to all residents of the European community, starting February of 2006.


More on Opodo in Spain: Rumbo in the picture

Like their entrance into eight other countries, Opodo dived into the Spanish market, forming an alliance with Rumbo, an already established and unquestionably successful giant. In conjunction the two companies have plans to maintain the joint effort until they reach a 10% market share, projected to happen within the next three years. While they will act as two separate companies, there is always the possibility of a much closer relationship, including fusion or acquisition.

In an interview, Simon Vicent, CEO of Opodo, said that their strategy in Spain will involve several phases. Initially, they plan on working actively to establish the Opodo brand in the market. Following that they will evaluate their progress and introduce new products.

When asked about the growth of the online tourism market in Spain, Simon Vicent, responded that the market is growing, especially for users between the ages of 26-45 years old. Opodo believes that one of the biggest driving forces in the online travel industry are the low cost airlines, 81% of whose reservations are made online. There are already 34 low cost airlines that fly in and out of Spain. In fact, the entire online travel reservations market in Spain is now worth 620 million euros.

Rumbo's Managing Director, Ignacio Martos agreed that the alliance between the two companies will also benefit Rumbo in other European markets. Rumbo will be providing all of the technical support for their strategic partner, while Opodo will take care of the marketing and promotion of products in different countries. Both companies agree that within the next four years, 77% of airline tickets will be sold online.


Wi-max services in Italy starting 1st July

The Italian Minister of Telecommunications Mario Landolfi has announced the launch of Wi-max («Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access») starting next July. Wi-max will be available for an initial 6 month period on an experimental basis, in a limited number of regions, and selected cities (Piemonte, Sardegna, Siciliy, Valle d'Aosta and Abruzzo, the cities of Rome, Milan, Arezzo and Parma).

Wi-max represents an excellent opportunity to leapfrog towards a networked society, especially for the rural areas where broadband internet access is rarely available.

Reported by: Il Corriere della Sera

Monday, June 06, 2005

Opodo moves into Spanish

Big brand Opodo has moved into its ninth European market with the launch of Opodo is already well established in the UK, Germany and France - and already entered the Italian, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, and Finnish markets in early 2005 through two acuqisitions - Eviaggi and Travellink.

Opodo moves into Spanish

Reported by Travel Daily News

Google to develop Israel

According to Israeli newspaper - Haaretz - Google is looking to open an office in Israel and to build its network of partners in the country.

Haaretz - Israel News - Google to launch Israeli subsidiary, challenging local Internet portals

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Yandex: PPC and Online Advertising in Russia

Russian search engine - Yandex - launches PPC service

Russia is one of those rare areas in the world where Google does not rein supreme. According to Liveinternet, the popular public statistics site, holds a leading market share of 55-60% with Google trailing at 5-6%. Their own published figures show a similar story. While the engine resembles Yahoo! in their portal services, their strong reliance on algorithms has drawn many comparisons to Google.

Diana Moldavsky, Senior Account Manager at Yandex, explains "Yandex is aimed at all Russian-speaking users, both in Russia and abroad. We welcome businesses from all over the world who would like to target a Russian speaking audience."

This is an important point often overlooked when marketing internationally; using a specific language search engine can open a channel to those speakers in all countries, including your own. There are 275 million Russian speakers in the world, an estimated ¼ million in the US alone, making it the fifth most spoken language.

Diana outlined the official Yandex submission policy, "Our robot is always looking for new sites that fit our criteria. So a webmaster can just wait for the robot to get to his/her site or to speed it up he can add the site himself by going to our submission page at We want submissions from abroad only if the site has Russian language pages or English language but Russia related pages."

Yandex now welcomes PPC advertisers from outside the country through their Yandex Direct system. The system is similar to the current offerings from Google and Yahoo!, showing adverts to the right of the main listings and bid for in the same way. The system works by matching exact keywords, whilst considering Russian language morphology, rather than a broad matching system.

The click through rate for pay per click is similar to the organic listings, says Diana, "We have found that, depending on the search query, the CTR for the PPC ads compares favourably with the organic CTR. In the worst case it may be approximately half that for the organic listing."

On the rather hot topic of click fraud which has caused a headache for the other major PPC providers, she was understandably more reserved, "We do monitor clicking patterns for each ad and in case of suspicious clicks we do not charge advertisers for them. Clicking patterns are analyzed with our proprietary software."

That system seems to be working well, as Denis Lebedev, director of explains, "One trick at the moment seems to be to copy our advert link and place it on a popular website, each time the page loads we get a click. We can see this in our referral logs. Yandex has not charged us when this has happened."

This trust is encouraged by the zero tolerance policy that Yandex has towards those trying to abuse the system. They actively encourage spam and abuse reports from their users through online reporting. Explains Denis, "The reporting process is very effective; sites are removed from the index within 5 days."

Yandex do not go as far as to provide IP data on the clicks advertisers receive although they acknowledge that this maybe something they do in the future. Another point being considered is extending Yandex Direct to give a contextual advert program for websites, similar to Google Adsense.

As a market leader, these moves by Yandex are helping to push online advertising in Russia to a new level. As was the case in the UK and US, online advertising so far has been largely limited to banners. Diana explains, "Our evaluation of search adverting in 2004 was $17-18m (compared to $25m for banner advertising). In 2005 we expect search engine advertising to overtake banners."

There is a high growth potential in the Russian market. The most recent research by the Public Opinion Foundation (FOM) shows that the Internet audience in Russia at the start of 2005 is still only 16% of the population (17.6 million people). Over the year that is a growth of 20% with daily audiences increasing by almost 50%. To place this in context, Russia has more internet users than Spain (16m), Australia (11m) or Sweden (5m) while having one of the lowest users to population ratios in the world.

Number of Internet Users in the following countries, in millions - taken from the FOM Report 'The Internet in Russia - available online

internet usage worldwide

Although Yandex has a strict policy on spam they do have a healthy relationship with local SEO/SEM professionals - much more complementary than antagonistic in this growing market. Diana stresses, "We are for SEO when they consult site owners and make sites more visible for search engines. I'd also like to mention that a lot of SEO professionals are reasonable advertisers and are happy to use Yandex Direct."