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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter - February 2007

Welcome to the February edition of our monthly newsletter on web marketing and search engine news.

This month we're pleased to announce the opening of our new office in Sydney, Australia where we will be providing search engine marketing and other online marketing services to the growing Australian web marketplace. We also review the problems facing the DMOZ directory and speculate on its possible future. Finally we cover the latest email spam threat that has arisen over the past month and which provides yet another reason to be vigilant in the face of this growing problem for businesses.

You can also view previous editions of this monthly newsletter.

On to this month's edition...

New Australian office opens for business

The Web Marketing Workshop has now completed the opening of its new office in Australia and will offer a similar range of search engine marketing services and other online marketing support to companies within this region, both through this business and its trading name, Web Search Workshop. This comes at a time when the Australian market is seeing a significant growth in online usage.

Following the relocation of Clive Hawkins - the founder and owner of the Web Marketing Workshop UK - to Sydney, the new office for the Australian branch of the company is now trading and providing online marketing support to business websites in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific region. In addition, the UK and Australian offices are now able to provide round-the-clock support for clients, should they need it.

The new Sydney business has opened at a time when Internet use in Australia is beginning to play an increasingly significant role in the economy. As the take-up of broadband increases, a recent survey by ACNielsen showed that nearly 6 million Australians (30% of the population) are now shopping online - a growth of 13% over the past 12 months - with just over half (51%) saying that they had made repeat purchases. This spending has now exceeded AU$11 billion, or around AU$11,900 annually per shopper.

Of these sales, airline tickets, accommodation and concert or events tickets are the most popular categories. However, the market leaders continue to be the big established brands such as eBay and Qantas, whereas many smaller retailers or e-commerce sites have yet to take advantage of this growing market and need to consider the advantages of website optimisation and pay-per-click advertising to develop their online presence.

As with the UK, there is a growing confidence amongst consumers that the online shopping experience is safe, convenient and often cheaper, so that this trend is likely to continue into the future.

To find out more about the new Australian business and the services being offered, please visit the website or contact us for more details.

The demise of DMOZ?

At the end of 2006, the Open Directory (DMOZ) suffered a major server crash which, combined with insufficient backup data, resulted in new submissions being suspended for at least 6 weeks. The site is now back functioning again but questions are being raised about the future of this directory.

DMOZ has long been one of the most significant web directories and it provided a valuable alternative to the Yahoo! directory, particularly after the latter started to charge for commercial submissions and then became subsumed and hidden behind Yahoo!'s main web search function. DMOZ was also an essential resource to get a site listed on, since the directory offered a free usage license to many other sites (including Google), thus helping the reach and link popularity of any site added to the service.

However, getting a listing on this directory has become increasingly frustrating over recent years, due to the declining number of volunteer editors who are struggling to cope with the volume of new listing requests and also reportedly having to cope with the internal politics and bickering.

So there are now questions being raised about the likely future of DMOZ as it fails to keep up with the growth of the web. More significantly, its parent company AOL (part of Time Warner) is restructuring, in light of falling revenues, and made an announcement in August 2006 that about a quarter of its workforce will be laid off globally. DMOZ could therefore be under threat from these changes.

So what will happen to DMOZ? Will it start charging for new listings or for the licensing use by other sites? Will it get bought up by Google, MSN or another major web property? Or will it just fade away gradually, becoming outdated, unused and irrelevant against the growing importance of new sites like Wikipedia and Digg?

Only time will tell, but we suspect that a significant change will happen by the middle of this year. In the meantime, we will continue to submit our clients’ sites to DMOZ until such time as the value of a listing here is reduced.

New alert for email spam infections

At the recent World Economic Forum held in Davos, experts discussed the extent of Internet fraud and it's estimated that between 100 and 150 million PCs are now part of botnets - PCs infected with trojan virus programs run to execute online fraud scams, release spam email campaigns and infiltrate user personal identity information. All PC users should be aware of the latest methods virus originators employ to gain “backdoor” access to PCs.

The recent storms that swept the UK and Europe saw the release of "Storm Trojan" - a supposedly informative email entitled “230 dead as storm batters Europe”. Unsuspecting users clicking on the email attachment (Video.exe, Read More.exe, Full Clip.exe or Full Story.exe) have contaminated their PCs and given hackers a means to access financial and personal information (both with a resale value) from the PCs' hard drives.

The security firm F-Secure confirmed that the assault originated from Asia and estimates that thousands of users have unwittingly infected their PCs. Mikko Hypponen, Chief Research Officer at F-Secure stated: “Trojan assaults of this scale are an unfortunate and increasingly common event. What is significant here though is the timely nature of this assault in relation to the European storm. Malware gangs are clearly using every technique and even tragedies like these to gain access to vulnerable machines.”

The weekend following the storms also saw an influx of “follow-up” emails purporting such news as “Saddam Hussein alive!” and going so far as ”Third World War just have started!” Hackers, pleased with the impact of their new ploy were obviously on a roll! More emails using the same technique are likely to follow.

Experts at Symantec estimate that over 300,000 PCs are now infected and were quoted as saying the Storm Worm and its variants is now the worst malware outbreak since 2005. As usual, security firms advise all users not to open emails or attachments unless from verified source - companies need to make all staff vigilant and not to open emails reporting celebrity or sensational news events and to keep security software up to date.


We hope you've found this month's newsletter informative. Please contact us if you need any more details on the items covered, or our advice on any aspect of your website's performance. Also, if there are any issues you would like to see in future editions of this newsletter, please submit your suggestions.