Search Month European Edition, August 2009

There’s a lot going on in the European search market. Starting today we will bring you a monthly update on Search Engine Land of European search news, with related links to the stories. Here’s what happened in August.

Google on fire. There was lots of buzz on Twitter when Google’s UK headquarters caught fire. The Googlers were apparently holding a barbecue. Somehow the grill went crazy. No one got hurt, but a lot of funny comments were made on Twitter and in blog posts (“Apparently Google employees searching for a fire extinguisher found 1.4 million results in 0.23 seconds” was one of the funniest).

The Loch Ness monster spotted via Google Earth? The ancient myth of the Loch Ness monster never ends, not even with the newest technologies. British tabloid The Sun showed images of Google Earth in which the Loch Ness monster can be seen. A big hoax without a doubt, but amusing.

Yahoo portal switches to… Google? When Yahoo made a deal with Microsoft, we assumed its search would universally be powered by Bing. Well, not in the UK. Yahoo decided to have the search engine of the online portal they run together with BT Broadband be powered by Bing’s biggest rival, Google. A strange move so it seems, but apparently BT Broadband was looking for the biggest reach and with Google’s more than 90% of reach in the UK the choice was apparently easy.

Italian regulators investigating Google. Italian authorities are investigating Google after publisher complaints that the search giant is abusing its dominant position. The New York Times quotes Carlo Malinconico, president of the Italian Federation of Newspaper Publishers: the complaint is “about a ‘lack of transparency’ in Google’s search engine and Google News service, which compiles blurbs of news stories on the Web and provides links to them.” Danny Sullivan already ‘debunked’ the newspapers allegations here on Search Engine Land.

French can choose their Streetview favorites. Which sites should Google include first in its “streetview” photos? The Brits chose Stonehenge, the Czechs and Dutch selected an amusement park as the first place Google should go to take pictures for Streetview. Now the French get to choose. Google teamed up with the local tourist organization, Asset France, allowing citizens to make suggestions on a form on services.google.com. The most popular items will be photographed first for Streetview.

Swiss privacy commissioner says no to Streetview. Google has only recently included Streetview images for Switzerland. For example, you can drive around Lake Geneva. But if Swiss privacy commissioner Hanspeter Thür gets his way that is not going to be possible for very long. He believes that Google’s photos are against the Swiss privacy laws because Google hadn’t blurred license plates and peoples faces enough. Apparently a member of parliament, Ruedi Nose, was found and recognized on Streetview, accompanied by a lady, which turned out to be his assistant…

Google Streetview gets Tate pictures. Google has announced that the Tate Museum of Art is the first cultural partner in the UK for the launch of Google Maps Street View. Google and Tate will be working together in bringing art closer to the public. Seventeen historically significant paintings will be integrated into Google Maps.

Europeans opposed to Google book settlement. Several European countries including Spain, Germany, Austria and Switzerland are encouraging their authors to back out of the deal with Google to start digitizing their books. They are concerned that copyrighted books which are still being sold will become available online for free and offline sales might drop. The German government has apparently already hired an American law firm to see if they can prevent the deal from going through.

Google UK SERPs are going crazy; Cutts says don’t worry, be happy. UK SEOs are not happy with Google at this moment. In the last couple of months the SERPS have been flooded with irrelevant results from the US, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and even the Netherlands. A full story on this has been published here on Search Engine Land.

French Library makes a deal with Google. “Google has won” was the headline of the French newspaper La Tribune. And with that it responded to the deal between Google and the French Librarians Association “Bibliotheque National de France” (BNF). Google and Bibliotheque agreed on a deal in which Google will be digitizing and indexing 13 million book titles in the French Library in Paris. The deal is controversial because for the last few years the former president of the Bibliotheque, Jean-Noel Jeaneney has been fighting Google trying to stop the so-called “American imperialism.” Supported by then French president Chirac they tried setting up a European project, Europeana, which never was a big success.

Russian search engine censors results. The Russian search engine/browser Gogul lets you visit only “child-safe” websites, but apparently parents aren’t the only ones who can control it. According to TechCrunch the approved content is filtered by a team of “parents, professional child psychologists and teachers.” The websites will be categorized by age.

Microsoft Yahoo deal will probably be no problem for EC. In the US the Federal Trade Commission is looking into the Microsoft Yahoo deal to see whether or not the deal is bad for competition. In Europe the EC (European Commission) is responsible for making that assessment, and they are said to be seeing no problems for letting the deal go through. ClickZ reports that the anti-trust scrutiny in the EC “has not been informed about the details of the transaction,” and that it “keeps this sector, as others, under review, but cannot comment further at this stage.” European lawyers, however, believe that the EC is looking at the deal but that they won’t be stopping it. The EC is said to feel that the deal won’t affect the search market too much because of the low percentages of search market share both Microsoft and Yahoo have in Europe.

Google Map Maker available for eastern Europeans. Google Map Maker has announced that several Eastern European countries have been added, allowing users to edit these maps to make them really accurate.

UK content-oriented websites get more traffic than transactional sites. Hitwise released numbers showing that in the UK transactional websites are losing more and more ground to content-oriented sites. Where in July 2006 Transactional websites used to attract 5% more traffic than content driven sites, it has now completely turned around: content driven sites account for no less than 73% of traffic.

Phone numbers of Dutch celebrities indexed. A local press agency in the Netherlands was embarrassed when phone numbers of hundreds of Dutch celebrities could be found through Google because web server which was supposed to be for a intranet could be reached through the web and was indexed by Google. On the intranet there was a “contact page” to help journalist find celebrity phone numbers fast to call them about stories. Among the numbers were numbers of pop stars, TV stars and members of parliament.

Yandex launches site search. The biggest Russian search engine and one of the bigger players in Europe Yandex announced they are launching new feature: site search. With a piece of embedded code any website owner can now put Yandex.site on their website, making the site searchable. And it can be profitable too. When part of the Yandex Advertising Network you get 50% of revenue from clicks to Yandex search ads displayed alongside search results.

Yandex and ICQ team up in Russia. Two services which are leading in Russia, ICQ and Yandex, have joined forces. They released their first co-branded client,Yandex ICQ, otherwise known as ICQ 6.5. The downloadable client software integrates Yandex services like search, traffic, weather and more with the ICQ chat functionality and features like online games and free SMS.

Webmasters can change “quick links” on Yandex. Yandex has introduced a new useful web master tool for site owners which have been indexed by Yandex. Like Google Yandex has site-links, Yandex calls them “Quick links”. Yandex has now introduced the option of moderating these links to web masters. With the option it takes one step further than Google does. Where in Google you can only say “no” to certain site links, Yandex offers you the option to not only remove them, but also to enable them.

Yahoo decreases minimum bid in France. In an effort to get French advertisers to hang on to Yahoo, the company decreased the minimum bid for keywords from €0,15 to €0,10. With that the absolute maximum French advertisers have to bid for any keyword is now 10 cents. The change will have a positive effect on those working with low margins.

UK searching for holidays in home country. People are not searching for holidays in Spain, but in their own country, according to Hitwise. With the time of year in mind Hitwise decided to look at what people are searching for related to travel subjects. Hitwise also looked at the top 10 most searched travel terms. The “cheap flights” airways Ryanair and Easyjet are most searched for and confirm the recession-minded searches people in the UK are making.

Google opens office in Croatia. Google dominance in Europe is huge. Yet not every country has a Google office. That’s especially the case in southeast Europe. Google now feels it needs to have a physical presence in the region, so they opened up offices in Croatia to service all operations in the region, including countries such as Serbia, Albania, Bosnia and Slovenia.

Want more news of the European search scene? Check out Searchcowboys. We cover the news of what is going on in search in Europe daily.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

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About The Author: is a Web/search strategist, international search specialist, trainer, and well-respected blogger. Bas is well informed about what's going on in the world of Internet and search marketing worldwide and especially Europe. Bas is the owner of Stateofsearch.com and also posts regularly on his personal blog.

Connect with the author via: Email



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  • xeoii

    “I recently discovered Web CEO, an excellent tool for search engine optimization. What I love about this program, it gives me everything I need to run and promote my site. I recommend you to download the Free Edition from their Web site”.

    It sounds very simple and informal, yet it gives you a higher click through ratio than a technocratic message like this: A software suite designed to provide businesses with a fast, reliable and cost-effective solution for Website promotion. http://bit.ly/WebCEO

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com nickstamoulis

    This is a great overview of the European search marketplace! Thanks for sharing all of this useful info, sometimes when you only focus on the US market, you can lose track that there are other things going on in search globally :)

  • keonda

    It is good to read a summary of the European search scene!

    Bas, don’t go too fast on the deal French Library/Google. Nothing is done yet:
    - no decision has been taken so far concerning a possible cooperation agreement ;
    - different options are considered by the Bibliothèque nationale de France, in close cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and Communication.
    (French Library Press Release – english version – pdf):

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