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Friday, January 14th, 2005

Is There a Future for LookSmart?

Former search giant LookSmart has reissued investor guidance numbers for the last quarter of 2004. Posting lower revenues than expected, the beleaguered firm admitted it overestimated potential revenues by about $2million and underestimated quarterly losses by about $700,000. Read more…

Almost every professional industry has an association that sets best-practice standards and represents the best interests of their profession. Organizations such as the American Medical Association, the Associated Locksmiths of America, and various Law Societies work to establish legitimacy in both professional practice and public perception. About two years ago, a number of search engine marketers decided to establish an industrial association representing search engine marketers, leading to the creation of the Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization, or SEMPO. Read more…

The search engine marketplace underwent a number of changes in 2004 with the number of independent sources nearly tripling by year’s end. Twelve months ago, Google was the dominant search tool feeding information to almost every other popular search engine in one way or another, including its biggest rivals Yahoo and MSN. Going into 2005, Google still dominates the search engine market but the world’s most popular search tool has lost a great deal of ground to its former bedfellows. Yahoo introduced its own algorithmic search engine early last spring followed by MSN’s beta release of their own search tool in the autumn. Over the span of one year, Google’s control of organic results dropped from approximately 76% to the 45% share it owns today. Read more…

Fast Search and Transfer of Norway has won a very large contract from AOL to develop a search platform based on its FAST enterprise search technology across various applications in the AOL network.

Owned by media giant Time Warner, AOL has spent the last year trying to re-enter the search engine market as a relevant player. Coupled with this announcement, AOL also entered into an agreement with Pure Networks to develop home networking tools for AOL subscribers with broadband access.

In an interview with WebProNews, AOL Executive Director of Digital Services, David Park said, “Making the AOL service go to work for our members no matter how they access it is pivotal and we chose to work with Pure Networks because we share a common vision of making the AOL ‘digital home’ easy-to-use and manage. Even with home networking on the rise, the technology can be complex and difficult to manage. With AOL Network Magic, we will deliver a product that is simple, intuitive and helps maximize the value of a home network.”

As more information and entertainment options move to the digital world, home networking is going to be one of the major trends in the coming years.

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Wednesday, January 5th, 2005

2005 Predictions – Watershed Ground

Three weeks ago we promised our predictions for the coming year. Here they are. Please remember, we are techno-geeks, not psychics. Some of these predictions may come true and some may be way off base. We do know the search industry is evolving faster than ever before. What seems fantasy today may well be reality next month. 2004 was an interesting year in the business of search, setting the stage for what should be a watershed year in 2005. Read more…

In the coming months a small start-up in Texas called SiSTeR Technologies hopes to introduce short video clips to search engine listings.

Folks used to say a picture was worth a thousand words. That of course was in the days before video was an instantly accessible medium. Video advertising can so be sophisticated; a two minute ad can be a more powerful sales tool than a million lines of print. Search engine listings tend to express a fair amount of information about the site behind each link. SEOs and site designers try to write strong descriptions and body text in order to generate a good paragraph under their links to attract visitors to the site but in the end, reference links often look very much alike. When competing for clicks with several other web-documents, conventional wisdom says it is smart to somehow stand out from the rest. Read more…

Recently, a friend of mine bought a new car. Buying a car can be extremely stressful with an enormous array of important numbers, specifications and comparative measurements to consider before purchase. Now I was raised in the downtown core of Toronto which is a megalopolis stretching around the northwestern quarter of Lake Ontario. Growing up with a highly efficient public transit system and a decidedly urban lifestyle, I never even considered the need for a vehicle until I was in my mid 20’s. Ten years later I am still at the “this moves me where?” stage in my relationship with vehicles. Taking me to a car-dealership is sort of like asking another city-kid which mushrooms are safe to eat in the forest. “Hey that one looks cool…” Things can get pretty Mickey Mouse from here eh? Read more…

The past year saw immense growth in the search sector. Search is bigger today than it was twelve months ago in every respect. With the Internet becoming a larger part of people’s lives and broadband access becoming the norm around the world, 2004 was the year that big business fully recognized the full impact of search. Read more…

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Wednesday, December 15th, 2004

MSN Desktop

MSN held a massive telephone news conference earlier this week to announce its version of a desktop search application. Like Google desktop, MSN’s offering spiders and indexes various files found on your computer’s hard-drive such as Word documents, Acrobat files, PowerPoint presentations, and spreadsheets. Unlike Google Desktop, this program catalogs a wider variety of files such as Email attachments, photos, music, and even software packages. Read more…

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Wednesday, December 15th, 2004

2004 – A Year of Search in Review

This is the last edition of the StepForth Weekly News for 2004, making this the perfect time to write a retrospective before moving into the new year. The past year will be remembered as the most interesting year in the history of search, that is until this time next year. 2004 witnessed the end of the search engine cold-war and the beginning of what is likely to be an intense rivalry between Google and MSN. It also showed a clear demarcation between who’s hot and who’s not in the business of search. Read more…