Top Search Stories - October 2007

Google's battle with Microsoft has dominated the search news headlines this month as the two tech giants vied to secure a stake in social networking site, Facebook. The tussle was won by Microsoft who parted with a cool (and somewhat over inflated) $240m for a 1.6% stake in the company. The deal will see Microsoft become the exclusive third-party ad platform partner for Facebook allowing them to sell ads internationally. 

Meanwhile the search blogosphere has been gripped by the backlash of Google's PageRank amendments, as what appeared to be a crackdown on paid links was rolled out. The changes saw many news sites, blogs and other sites heavy with interlinking, experiencing significant PageRank drops of 2 to 3 points virtually overnight. Google's #1 search guru, Matt Cutts, confirmed on 30th Oct that this was in fact the case, reiterating Google's firm plans to clamp down on paid linking activity.

News on Yahoo! is showing a significant turnaround in the company's fortunes following a turbulent few months during which key staff resignations and profit falls were reported. An impressive Q3 profit report for online advertising shows a 12% surge from the previous quarter. The growth is attributed in part, to significant increases in search advertising revenue. Yahoo! certainly looks set to maintain this positive turnaround with enhancements to its search facility in the form of Search Assist, which also went live this month. The Search Assist tool presents consumers with extra information in the form of a drop down menu when they require additional help in their search.

Facebook has clocked up further column inches with news of the site opening up its applications pages for indexing by Google. Search engines can now index third party services that are created for the site and also what users say about them. The move is expected to provide developers of Facebook applications with greater visibility and a broader audience.

On the stats and figures front, further evidence has emerged via the IAB, that online advertising spend is on a clear course to overtake all other forms of media spend. The figure has reached a record £1.33bn for the first half of the year, an increase of more than 40%. Online has now surpassed direct mail and yearend figures are expected to reach £2.75 billion.  This trend is also having an impact on revenue from other media, namely TV, with Google overtaking the most profitable commercial TV channel, ITV1, in terms of advertising revenue. According to figures recorded between July and September, Google generated £327 million in advertising compared with approximately £317 million for ITV1 across the UK, during the same period.

And finally, AdWords and Live Search have both introduced upgrades and improvements to their systems over the past month. Google has enhanced the AdWords platform rolling out 20 or more enhancements which aim to improve the quality of its sponsored links; and Microsoft has revealed a number of updates to its search engine in an attempt to claw back some market share from Google. The enhancements include a planned introduction of similar features to Google's Universal Search.

We hope you've enjoyed our news round-up. Until next month…

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