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In my travels today I came across a few articles I just had to share.

  • How Social Networking Could Kill Web Search as We Know It
    Source: Popular Mechanics. April 16th, 2008.

    Excerpt: Such a prediction probably seems ridiculous when Google has a market capitalization five times that of Ford and General Motors combined. After all, Google has developed a superfast, highly efficient method of making sense of the most overwhelming mass of data mankind has ever created. What’s more…” read on

  • 20 (Rare) Questions for Google Search Guru Udi Manber
    Source Popular Mechanics. April 16th, 2008.This is an excellent interview and it even covers a response (as shown below) from Guru to the concept that social media will kill search.

    Excerpt: (Interviewer)While we’re talking on the subject of personalization, a colleague of mine said that search as you know it is falling to the wayside and changing dramatically as social networking comes into play—trending toward this MySpace-Facebook model where people look to their friends or their community as the take-off point. Do you see that as a bona fide trend? And, if so, does search become less important?(Reponse from Guru)Search has always been about people. It’s not an abstract thing. It’s not a formula. It’s about getting people what they need. The art of ranking is one of taking lots of signals and putting them together. Signals from...” read on

I hope you enjoy those two articles. It seems this week is a Google-fest over here at StepForth, what with our debut of “How to Optimize for Google, Part 1 of 3” just yesterday on our SEO blog and in our weekly web marketing newsletter. Oh well, the fact of the matter is Google is a monster company and the more light we can shed on the monster the less anyone has to fear it. Well, unless you taunt the monster… and I am recommending you don’t.

by Ross Dunn, CEO, StepForth Web Marketing Inc.

In today’s online world search engine rankings can make your business succeed, and while rankings in Yahoo and MSN are very valuable, their combined market value is still less than that of Google. This makes achieving top rankings in Google that much more important.

In this three-part series on How to Optimize for Google we will touch on a number of important aspects for top Google rankings including website optimization, links, Google Webmaster tools, and a number of other considerations.

The focus of Part 1 will be with on page website optimization. If you have already read this, check out Part 2 and Part 3 of How to Optimize for Google Read more…

At the exact same time (both at 10:50 am PST) Google announced it’s spider (Googlebot) was now indexing a variety of forms Matt Cutts jumped in on his blog with his perspective where raised a great point that hadn’t occured to me. Essentially this new spider function will allow the indexing of form-based drop-down menus which previously were road blocks to search engine spiders. This form of navigation is unfortunately used quite often as primary navigation by web site owners so this recent addition to Googlebot’s super spider powers may mean huge rank increases for such websites.

That said, according to Google this doesn’t always mean this content will be indexed… which begs the question whether form navigation is still a good idea to rely on. At this point I hardly think it is now an acceptable navigational tactic. After all the other search engines first have to jump on board and implement a similar capability or else form navigation will alienate them entirely.

Thanks Matt for your ever wise post. Oh and did you all know that Matt Cutts and I are best friends forever? (BFF)

I am in disbelief. Less than 40 minutes ago the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog announced that Google can now fill out web forms and spider the resulting content. Previously this was not only not done by search engines but it was well known that such content would be useless since it wouldn’t ‘necessarily’ be formatted for the eyes of searchers. Apparently Google is now throwing this concept to the wind. Read more…

What would you do if you suddenly found your private residence plastered over Google Street View, along with photos of your yard, pool, and other private property? Well, this very thing has happened to Christine and Aaron Boring, and they have since filed a lawsuit against Google.

According to The Smoking Gun, when one of the vehicles shooting photos for the mapping service made a wrong turn up a 50 foot private driveway, it also continued snapping photos and those photos made it onto the live version of Google Street View.

Google spokesman Larry Yu told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “There is no merit to this action. It is unfortunate litigation was chosen to address the concern because we have visible tools, such as a You Tube video, to help people learn about imagery removal and an easy-to-use process to facilitate image removal.”

The Boring’s are seeking “in excess of Twenty-Five Thousand Dollars for compensatory, incidental, and consequential damages, punitive damages, costs, all allowable attorneys’ fees, and all other damages deemed to be just,”

Another home owned by Janet and George McKee also found its way onto Google Street View. This series of photos is far more intrusive, as the vehicle had to drive up a long winding driveway to approach the house. No word yet on whether or not the McKee’s will also be filing suit. More info and photos on this instance can also be seen at The Smoking Gun.

The “Boring” photos have since been removed from Street View, however, the Mckee’s photos are apparently still listed. Searching Google Maps for the Boring’s Address (1567 Oakridge Lane, Pittsburgh, PA 15237), and doing a fair bit of scrolling to the West, you will eventually find their photos have been blacked out and removed from Google.

Google Docs logoIf you’ve been swayed away from your Microsoft Office products and are now a frequent user of Google Docs you may be interested to know that a select few users will now have offline access to their Google Docs files, as Google begins rolling out their offline editing access.

On Monday Google announced in the Official Google Docs Blog the upcoming functionality to their software. The big push came with requiring the ability to work on your documents when on an airplane, commuting to work, or when your home internet access goes down. Read more…

Earlier this month Google launched a new function which allows searchers to search deeper within existing authority search results.

When searchers enter a query for certain terms, typically brand names such as “best buy”, an additional search box appears next to the authority listing allowing for a deeper site search. This site search will then search the specified site for your next query. This feature has been available for some time using the Google Toolbar, or by entering the command ””, but was only recently integrated into the actual search results.

In order to help curb the possibility of rioting, the Chinese government has blocked all access to both YouTube and Google News to prevent the viewing of news reports and video footage documenting riots and protests in Tibet. Other web properties blocked include giants Yahoo, CNN, and the BBC.

Cnet reported on the blockage over the weekend and many others such as the New York Times have also picked up the story.

Google has before been blocked by the Chinese government. Back in 2002 searches through the internet giant were blocked to the Chinese population leading into a Communist Party congress in November of that year.

In 2002 the Chinese government reported that an estimated 45.8 million Chinese were online. In July of 2007 this number had increased to approximately 137 million. Since then the total of those online has continued to skyrocket. According to Nielsen/NetRatings, and reported at the Register, the communist country, exceeded that of the US and reached an estimated 216 million online users by the end of 2007.

1-800-GOOG-411 is now available in Canada! First, I must admit, this may very well have happened a while ago but if it did I must have missed the news; thanks to Garret Rogers at ZDNet for the heads up. Either way, it is cool and I haven’t heard of anyone in my circle of friends that uses it yet but they really should.

Here is an illustration on how Google’s free entirely voice-activated 411 service works:

An illustration of the step-by-step process of using 1-800-GOOG-411

Read more…

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

Today's Social Media Linkforth

Google has added a “search box” for sites chosen to have “a high probability that a user wants more refined search results within that specific site”. Without leaving Google’s results page the “search box” will help find information within that website and hopefully the exact page people are looking for within a site. The “search box” will gather query specific results from within the site and display them on a new refined results page.

Facebook is currently translated into English, French, and Spanish and is now in the process of being translated into German. Sehr gut!

An interesting article about how top newspapers are spreading their news and brand via social media sites. The findings are that UK newspapers stories are making it to top positions within sites like Digg because they are considered authorities when it comes to breaking news.