After NORAD announced last week it would be joining forces once again with Bing to track Santa’s whereabouts during the holiday season, NORAD Tracks Santa went live on Dec. 1. Google followed suit today by announcing the return of its own Google Santa Tracker. There’s still no comment from Santa’s camp on which site Mrs. Claus will be using to track her husband this Christmas.
This is the second year that the search engines have released competing Santa Tracker services, although it appears the two companies have acknowledged the momentous responsibility involved with hosting two separate Santa Trackers.
As we covered last week, a tweet from Bing’s general manager Stefan Weitz last month suggested an unofficial meeting between Bing and Google to better coordinate how they post sightings of Santa.
According to Google’s announcement, its Santa Tracker will include a new game or holiday-themed scene throughout December, along with an Android App available mid-month. Google says the Santa Tracker Android App will make it possible to track Santa on your TV using Chromecast. A Chrome extension counting down to Santa’s annual flight is also available for download.
Google claimed a Santa Tracker Glass App is coming mid-December for the lucky few who got an early gift from Google this year and won an opportunity to purchase Google Glass.
Google’s Santa Tracker is also providing communication services with the North Pole, making it possible to send postcards from Santa to a friend, or schedule a call from him via social media and email. (Google did not release Santa’s actual email address.)
As for the NORAD site, it’s been completely redone to make it more 3D oriented and touch-screen optimized, wrote Microsoft in a blog post yesterday. It also offers a variety of games and features. Here’s a look:
Last week, Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan offered an in-depth overview of Bing’s relationship with NORAD (North American Aerospace Defines Command) to provide Santa tracking services and the history behind Bing and Google’s competing Santa Trackers: “NORAD Tracks Santa” Is Back With Bing For 2013 & Will Santa Tracking Match At Google?
Postscript From Danny Sullivan: One downside to the new NORAD site, which I’ve watched closely for years, is that all the links to historic content are now gone. Basically, there seems to have been no real attempt made to make the site be SEO-friendly, making it seem like it’s only a three page site (of the five pages shown below, three are duplicates of the home page):
I’m sure people will still find it for searches like “santa tracker” or “NORAD Santa,” because there are so many links to the site that will influence it to rank well for those searches. But it’s disappointing that some of the historical content and other material in the site wasn’t treated with more care.