theEweekly Wrap - US spelling, market share and China

World War Z Bing and Google came into the firing line this week as both companies began applying Americanised spelling to UK search terms. Users across the country criticised the pair as searches for 'search engine optimisation' and 'colonisation' resulted in website results which spelt the words with a 'z' rather than an 's'.

While one SEO blog described the move as 'insulting', a number of commentators suggested the incident may have ranking implications for UK websites, particularly those with a strict interpretation of the English language.

Alan Bleiweiss from Searchenginejournal said the move showed a lack of common sense on Google's part. He blogged:

"It goes to the very nature of SEO and how critical it is to ensure that you optimize (optimise) a web site for the target market you are needing to reach. Linguistic difference is vital to success when reaching a specific country or culture."

Share the wealth Search market research from Neilsen gave Yahoo and Bing the New Year blues as it revealed both companies had dropped their share of US visitors in December.

Yahoo Search suffered a 0.9 per cent decline in users, falling from 15.3 per cent of the market in November to 14.4 per cent. Bing suffered a similar fate, dropping from 10.7 per cent to 9.9 per cent.

The decline suffered by both companies came as a result of Google's increased dominance, rising from 65.4 per cent to 67.3 per cent. A number of industry sources speculated the gain by Google was a result of its marketing campaign for Chrome; a multi-market advertising push for the browser.

Chinese democracy Google's decision to re-evaluate its position in China has received support from US president Barack Obama.

In his daily briefing, press secretary Robert Gibbs revealed the White House was strongly in favour of the search engine's decision to remove censored searches from its site in China. Gibbs commented:

"We support Google's action in a decision to no longer censure searches that happen using the Google platform."

Google's policy shift in the country, provoked by a hacking attempt on several Google Mail accounts, has been welcomed by many. None more so than in the White House, as Gibbs reiterated Obama's commitment to free speech across the globe.

"The President has strong beliefs about the universal rights of men and women throughout the globe. Those aren't carved out for certain countries."

News in 140 characters

Jill Hazelbaker, spokesperson for John McCain's failed bid for US president, has been hired as Google's head of corporate communications.

'Google' has been proclaimed as the word of the decade by the American Dialect Society. 'Tweet' picked up the word of the year award.

Media aggregator NewsNow has criticised News International after being told to remove all links to Times Online content.