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The impact of Google’s Florida Update has not been fully realized yet but, with reports from some of our clients who have been hurt, the damage will be extensive. Literally hundreds of thousands of websites have seemingly disappeared from Google’s listings, most of whom enjoyed a Top10 placement before the massive update which started on November 16th. Like most retailers, ecommerce sites that have faded from the listings needed a good Christmas season to remain viable into the next year and many of them staked their sales plans on a their previously strong placements at Google. The fallout will be noticeable, particularly among small businesses who’s advertising options were limited by small business budgets. Small businesses, however, will not be the only companies facing an uncertain future because of the Florida Update. When the SEO community starts receiving calls from the mainstream media and people who are not clients, asking what is wrong with Google; one knows that Google itself has a problem that goes far beyond their data centers. As one of the pioneers of the web, Lee Roberts of The Web Doctor points out, “It was word-of-mouth that generated their popularity because people could find what they were looking for. Now, we only find sites with less quality content and less sites that offer what we want.” Read more…

I am tired of reading other SEO practitioners telling each other that this is the long-term algo from Google and we had best get used to it. Maybe they are right maybe they are wrong. Either way, I don’t think there is enough evidence in yet to say one way or another what Google is really up to. Quick tip colleagues, we are considered the experts. People listen to us and take our words quite seriously. Before telling webmasters to recode their sites or other SEOs to retool their promotions, I think we should sit back, observe, analyse and draw slowly formulated conclusions. I realize how difficult it is to tell a desperate client that they will have to wait for accurate information but I assume they will appreciate me for preaching patience until we have a collective handle on what is happening. Anything else seems very irresponsible to me. It blows me away how many people read our words but there are about two dozen of us who seem to carry a lot of weight with the public. Let’s be a bit more responsible and only give answers when we know what the REAL questions are.


More major spider activity to report. Google-Bot is raging according to more client logs.

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2003

Google Word Stemming – Sort of

It has been reported in many search engine optimization discussion forums that Google is now using word stemming, or treating the plural version of a keyword the same as a singluar version of the keyword. Google seems to be slowly introducing word stemming as the results of our tests show. Generally, the Top3 listings under the plural and singluar keywords are the same but subsequent listings tend to differ.

It is still too early for the SEO community to announce with authority that Google is totally using word stemming. I think they are slowly introducing word-stemming or at least experimenting with its effect. It does not appear to cover the entire algorithm though.

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2003

Google Update Update

nothing new to report yet but we are still watching every hour.

This morning Ross the Boss was IM’ed by one of his contacts in the US mid-west noting that Google-bot has spidered his site several times in the last 36-hours. A glance at our logs and those of a few associates show the same thing, extra attention from Google.

That made me turn to Scott, our PPC expert and ask him to run a few common tests at Google. Our perceived link density is fluxuating as is the number of sites associated with the keyword phrases we are testing with.

This leads us to believe Google is working overtime for some reason. A good guess is that Google is working to fix the errors caused with the FLORIDA UPDATE. Scott and I will be checking every hour or so to see what Google’s up to and will update this BLOG with new information when it comes.

Monday, December 1st, 2003

Google Goofiness Continues

Not much to say about this one but, for the record, Google is still goofy. There was a good article in today’s Search Engine Watch ( but, still no real and substancial ideas on how a minor fix could become such a major headache

Brought to you by Google Watch, the Scroogle search tool will tell you where your website would have placed based Google’s former algorithm. The name scroogle can mean one of two things: It might be a combination of Scrooge and Google, or it might indicate how many webmasters feel they have been treated by Google recently.

Happy December retail friends

Don’t take this too seriously unless you have experienced a similar issue. We are now receiving Email from non-clients asking for advice regarding their websites’ loss of position at Google. Regardless of whether or not they are clients, we try to help anyone who asks us for our opinions and advice. What is bugging me is that many of the people writing us DO NOT have commercial sites or SEO techniques applied to their sites! Several SEOs have speculated that it is only commercial sites or sites with obvious SEO techniques that have had their rankings disappear at Google.

I can’t say I know why this is happening but it is a heads-up to others studying the FLORDIA update. It’s not only commercial and/or SEO driven sites… have a nice day.

Happy Thanksgiving to our friends in the United States. American Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the end of the previous year and the start of the holiday season. It is the perfect time to kick back, visit family and friends and reminisce about the year gone past. It is also a great time to look forward to the coming year and have a little fun. That’s what our staff wanted to do today so here is our predictions for the State of Search, 2004.

* Google will issue an IPO in March (odds = 99%) via the Dutch Auction format. (odds = 50%) Google will make billions on the IPO and will purchase the financially strapped Calgary Flames Hockey club, move them to the Silicone Valley and rename them the Silicone Flameouts. (odds = 5%)

* We will see a continuance of large mergers, takeovers and buyouts until the end of the first quarter of 2004. More of the smaller players will be absorbed by the larger ones including at least a portion of ASK.Com. (odds = 60%). Jeeves himself will be found drunk in an alley behind the Stardust Lounge on Rodeo Dr. slumped over his friend, that other unemployed mascot from Pets.Com (odds = 5%)

* Yahoo will become the dominant search service in China (odds = 85%) and will become known as the “Portal to the World’s Largest Marketplace” (odds = 65%)

* Terra Lycos will surprise the search world with successful innovations and services. (odds = 99%) Furthermore, Lycos will become one of the top international search tools with a strong focus on European and Spanish Language search technologies. (odds = 55%)

* Contextual Advertising opportunities will expand, allowing more opportunities for the advertiser to become the advertising medium for other ads. (odds = 85%)

* Asian language SEOs will be a driving force of the SEO industry as the focus of the international economy continues to move from North America to Asia. (odds = 75%)

* The Toronto Maple Leafs will finally win the Stanley Cup. (odds = .05%)

* Google will be officially labeled a weapon of mass destruction based on the recent Florida update. (odds = 99%)

* Non-Spammy results will be found at Google very soon. (odds = 10%)

* Every major search engine will introduce their own tool-bars. (odds = 90%)

* MSN will make a major purchase, possibly ASK.Com’s TEOMA (odds = 50%)

* StepForth Placement will expand to double it’s current size and staff (odds = 80%+)

* StepForth Placement will add a new division (details pending, odds = 100%)

Wednesday, November 26th, 2003

Good article about Florida Update

Google’s recent update (FLORIDA) has been discussed and dissected by the SEO community for the past three weeks. WebMasterWorld moderator, Barry Lloyd has taken the time to compile and analyze much of the discussion and has packaged it in a well written and easy to understand article. This is a must read of SEOs and webmasters interested in Google (this likely means you…).