According to breaking news from the Wall Street Journal, Google will be resuming talks with China after the Chinese New Year holiday over the future of the company’s search engine in the heavily censored country.

Why is Google Considering Leaving? A Basic Timeline of Events

If you have missed the boat on this story then here is an timeline overview:

1) 2005: Google opens in China and censors its content heavily to ‘respect’ the Chinese legal system. Many scuffles over free speech occured over the next few years but  Google ultimately buckled to Chinese law. (more on Google China at Wikipedia)

2) Mid-December 2009, Google gets hacked by cyber-terrorists and after some research, deduces that China was the source of the attack.

Here are some excerpts from  Google’s extensive media release about the cyber attacks:
Read more…

On February 14th, Danny Sullivan posted a frustrated Buzz about Google Buzz that lured me into making a few comments. Well, low and behold, but a man by the name of Josh Wills who is involved behind the scenes in Google Buzz jumped into the fray and listened. Yes, listened! I was so impressed, I thought I would share with you the conversation.

To set the tone, this all started when Danny Sullivan shared his frustration about how badly the reply system is designed within Google Buzz and that spawned a bit of a hackfest from other frustrated users.

Ross Dunn – Yes the whole thing is a confusing mess. I just don’t get what is going wrong over at Google. Have they lost perspective entirely? I am very disappointed; I actually had high hopes for them. I guess I have been taking it for granted that their products are well thought out. I won’t make that mistake again…

Josh Wills – @Alex is right, there is alot to fix. @Ross, I am sorry you’re disappointed.

Josh went on to discuss spam issues on Buzz. I will just show you the parts where we interacted from here on in. Read more…

Just a few hours ago Google announced an enhancement to Gmail called Google Buzz that will be rolled out over the next couple of days. What is Google Buzz? Essentially, it is the incorporation of an important part of what made Google Wave so sexy for many people (me included) – the ability to manage conversations on other platforms (like Twitter) from a central location that we already frequent – GMAIL.

So how does Google Buzz work? Below is a video outlining the cool new capabilities but if you can’t access that at the moment, here is much of the key video transcribed to text:

“Buzz goes beyond status messages. It automatically pulls images from links, shows videos in line, and lets you flip through photos the way they were meant to be seen – big and fast. You can connect to other sites you use; like Picasa, Flickr, Google Reader, and Twitter. So your friends can keep up on what you are doing on the web, all in one place.

“Buzz makes sure you see what matters most. The best part about sharing is getting responses to your post; Buzz sends these comments to your inbox to make sure you don’t miss them. You can respond right from there to keep the conversation going. If you want to make sure you friends see something, you can send it right to their inbox by adding them with an “@” reply.

“You’ll sometimes see recommended Buzz from someone you are not directly following. Buzz identifies posts that may interest you or are popular among your friends and recommends them to you so you don’t miss out. And it works on your phone, so you can keep up with what your friends, or people near you, are Buzzing about.”

Here is the official Google Buzz video followed by why Google Buzz could help Google advertisers and those with high Google rankings: Read more…

The logo for Victoria, BC's Camosun College with a link to its websiteVictoria SEO specialist, Ross Dunn ( CEO of StepForth Web Marketing Inc.  ) will be teaching two web marketing courses at Victoria’s Camosun College Interurban campus this February and March. The first course in February is focused on teaching business owners how to improve their search engine rankings under local search results. The second course in March will delve into the world of advanced search engine optimization (SEO) and is designed for web marketers with prior experience in search engine optimization (SEO).

For more details please see the content below and sign up information from the Camosun College Continuing Education website (link: computer training courses). Read more…

On Thursday, Jan 21st, Google will be releasing its fourth-quarter earnings and stockholders are likely to be very happy with the results. That said, what will happen in 2010?

Google’s 4th Quarter Results Expected to be Great

In this Reuters article Kaufman Brothers analyst Aaron Kessler is quoted as saying, “the unofficial ‘whisper’ numbers among investors have Google’s fourth-quarter net revenue growing between 13 percent and 15 percent from the third quarter’s $4.38 billion.”

So just how well is Google doing in comparison to the markets? Read more…

A picture of a brick wall with barred windows and the words "YOU in GoogleJail" - "How to get out on good behaviour"Search Engine Guide kindly republished my article called “How a Google Penalty Can Make Your Site Stronger” which prompted some great questions from readers which I have reformatted and posted here for readers of the StepForth Web Marketing Blog:

Question 1) My site has been penalized by google coz of paid post and links, which left my site with a PR 0, do you have any suggestions for that?”

Ross Dunn: Yes, the best way to go is to have all of the paid posts and links removed; if that has not happened already. Then once you are certain you are no longer infringing on Google’s guidelines, go into your Google Webmaster Tools account and submit a request for reconsideration of your website; if you can’t find the area to do that, then just do a quick search in the help area and you will find it.

Unfortunately there is no guarantee this will get you back into Google’s graces and there is also no telling how long Google will take to even get to your request, however, it is an excellent first step. The next step is to build your site into a powerhouse of excellent information by creating a blog or getting more active in the one you have. This involves posting original, high quality content that provides potential readers with something of value – be it simply an enjoyable read or useful tips. The act of building your site’s reputation through new quality content will help your odds of getting back into Google’s graces considerably.

Question 2) “I am eager to know if we go for URL removal request and make changes to site and then again submit link to google.Does it faster way to get out from penalization?” Read more…

How does Google determine which real-time results will appear? They have to filter through an unimaginable volume of information and make a decision in mere seconds. This is a billion dollar question that will be on the minds of search marketers around the globe. Indeed, the question was so on the minds of marketers that in less-than-subtle ways the question was probed throughout the conference yesterday.

As expected the Google representatives at the Search Event 2009 press conference easily danced around related questions but there were a few nuggets worth taking away and mentioning. Essentially Google has applied a new form of algorithmic indicator that Marissa Mayer subtly called an Update Rank.

Here is exactly what she said about real-time data:

“… authoritativeness exists there as well and there are signals there that indicate it. So for example, retweets and replies and the structure of how the people in that ecosystem relate to each other. You can actually use some of our learnings from PageRank in order to develop a, say, a Updates Rank, or an Updater Rank for the specific people who are posting. So this is something we are beginning to experiment with but it is interesting to see that same parallel where PageRank looks at links you can actually look at the very mechanisms inside of these update streams and sense the authoritativeness the same way.”

So based on Marissa’s words and the other take-aways from the conference here is my first draft on what real-time results are based on: Read more…

Search Event 2009 on December 7 was the day that Real Time Search was unveiled at GoogleYesterday Google unveiled real-time search which has brought with it a great many new marketing techniques and possibilities for web traffic. Want to learn more? Here is how to see real-time search in action and a few important questions and answers to follow it up.

#1) What is Real-Time Search?

Real time search is a type of search query that can be done on Google (and other real-time search sites) that provides the latest discussions/news from all over the Internet based on the query.

Real-time search has come about as a result of the often useful real-time news that is available within social networking feeds from sites like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc.  When all of these real-time social networking sites started there were very few people that believed they would go anywhere (who would have the time after all?!); and you can count me as one of them at the beginning. That said, disbelievers were proven wrong and sites like Twitter have become popular world wide. Twitter, in fact, has made multiple world headlines as a platform for national protests (i.e. Moldova’s Twitter Revolution“) and has often broken news far before the mainstream media reported it. What was worse (to Google anyway) was this timely (valuable) news was often nowhere to be found within search results because Google was not indexing news that quickly.  Well Google was going to have none of that and they spent a long time creating a whole new set of algorithms and systems to filter real-time results while providing them within seconds of being posted online. Yesterday, Google announced that  we will start seeing real-time search appearing in search results within the next few days across all English-speaking portals of Google.

Below is an example of how the results look in regular (organic/natural) Top 10 search rankings. Read more…

Yes, I am serious! Here is the website announcing the big Droid/Google advertising event on Black Friday. Here’s the deal:  just conduct a Google voice search by calling 888-376-4336 and your results will be displayed all over Times Square for all to see!

An image of the "Search Times Square" bulletin

Now how does this help your advertising? Well, think outside of the box… why not conduct a search that is guaranteed to show your company as #1 in the search results? Why not have that happen a few times? :-)  Seems to me like a cheap way to gain a lot of advertising. Of course, I have no idea how the searches will be presented but if they are being presented at all then it seems this would be a worthwhile experiment.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving today and a lucrative day of advertising on Black Friday :-D

An image of the countdown to Droid taking over Times Square

Thanks to TechCrunch for filling me on in this wonderful opportunity

The SEO 101 logo from WebmasterRadio.FM - click to see the show archivesHello everyone, this post is a quick overview of the stories of interest in the realm of search engines and related news over the past few days. I am sorry I can’t provide more detail on each of these items; really they could be stories unto themselves. The fact is, StepForth has never been busier so we have had absolutely no time to write. I will, however, endeavour to write an article or two over the next couple of weeks. Perhaps someday we will even send out a new issue of our web marketing newsletter ;-) In the meantime, I and my co-host John Carcutt discuss SEO every Monday on SEO 101 on WebmasterRadio.FM (it airs 5pm EST, 2pm PST) so tune in!!

Anyway, enough with the chatter, here are 4 of the most interesting news headlines spotted today:

Google’s Plan to Increase Ad-Serving Quality Now Includes Teracent

Teracent LogoGoogle has set the bar for online success by giving everything away (Gmail, Android, GAnalytics, GDocs, GApps, GMaps, etc.) but still making a financial killing; all due to brilliant pay-per-click ad-serving technology. With that in mind, you can now take for granted that Google is going to do all it takes to keep on the cutting edge of online advertising technology and maintain its lucrative bottom line. Which takes us to it’s recent purchase of Teracent, a company that has created a machine-learning technology that will increase the flexibility of Google’s ad-serving platform to allow previously unheard-of targeted & advertising online; for desktops and the growing mobile marketplace. Want to learn more about Teracent’s purchase? Here are some great links: Read more…