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Search is the gateway and guidepost to the Internet. Over the past five years, the business of search has changed from a model resembling a friendly but very well built lemonade stand to the current state of monolithic but often dysfunctional empires built by and around today’s big three (MSN, Google and Yahoo). With tens of billions of dollars at stake, competition between the big three has turned into an all-out business war, the casualties of which are jobs, cool technologies, and ultimately, the current wild-west atmosphere of the Internet. When the dust settles, finding what you are looking for may be a bit more difficult and expensive. There will likely be a major decrease in search options by this time next year and what does exist will likely cost you, unless you are interested in finding information that has been pre-paid for by the supplier (advertiser) as opposed to the consumer (searcher). Google is likely to retain non-paid listings as a priority but that may change if Google issues public shares through a widely expected spring-time IPO. That, however, is then and this is now. Today’s battle takes place between engineers at Overture and Google, with Overture landing a solid upper-cut in the form of Local Search proficiency. Read more…

Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt revealed today that Google will focus on the personalization of search as its main tool to fend off rivals MSN and Yahoo. In a bid to improve the lagging relevancy of its search results, Google purchased a Stanford University startup search engine, Kaltix that was designed to track user’s searches and compile user/computer-specific search databases.

As a search technology concept, personalization will likely evolve over time starting with basic context matching and moving to unique user personalization as software and user data matures. As a start, we are strongly recommending webmasters be certain to add specific geographic information on their contact pages (as well as a well-defined text link to their contact pages) including; street address, city or cities in which the business is located, state or province, nation and zip or postal codes. To be safe, it is likely wise to include geographic modifiers in the description meta tags as well.

For the past six months, Google has been rewarding several websites using techniques that are considered spamming. We constantly see hidden text, keyword stuffing, cloaking and false-link networks used as ranking tools by websites that really shouldn’t be ranking in the Top10. Read more…

Thursday, October 9th, 2003

Google and AOL Renew Listings Deal

Google and AOL announced a continuation of their multi-year deal. Google will continue to feed results to the AOL search tool and other AOL properties such as Netscape and Compuserve as well as continuing to power web search results for AOL sites in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Japan, Australia and Canada. Google will also continue to provide paid listings through AdWords to sites in the US, Japan and Canada. AOL Europe will continue to receive paid listings from Overture. AOL is betting that they will retain users by sticking with Google, the web’s most popular search brand rather than lose viewers to Google itself.

In the feature article of this week’s StepForth newsletter, we speculate that Google, as we know it, is ill and perhaps beyond repair. If that is the case, the new methods of search engine optimization will need to be revised as older methods are revisited. Here is a few quick tips to look at when considering SEO friendly design. Read more…

Wednesday, October 1st, 2003

Google & Lycos Make AdSense

In a wise move, Google has outflanked its main competitor Overture by signing a deal with TerraLycos to display AdWords on several of TerraLycos’s US Internet properties such as Tripod, Angelfire, HotWired,, Matchmaker, and Raging Bull. TerraLycos joins other Internet heavyweights, iVillage, and Switchboard as carriers of the AdSense program that allows websites to display AdWords advertisements on their sites. Thousands of smaller webmasters and media outlets also display AdWords ads through the AdSense program. TerraLycos (US) saw over 31 million visitors last year throughout its network of portals and sites.

Wednesday, October 1st, 2003

PageRank is Sick… Is Google Broken?

For the past six months we have been telling clients that something very strange is happening with Google. From the way they have measured back links to the amount of SPAM that has appeared in the Top10, Google has not performed to its previous standard of excellence for almost a year. Now, with the intensity of public scrutiny surrounding Google heating up, folks are beginning to talk about Google’s problems as well as IPO rumours and its near monopolistic hold on the business of search. Read more…

Last Monday I received an Email from the Wall St. Journal. Since this is something that doesn’t happen every day, and, since the WSJ has already run the article with a quote from our correspondence, I thought it would be nice to share the email exchange with the world. :)

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Monday, September 8th, 2003

Google Is Five Years Old Today!

Happy Birthday to Google… Happy Birthday to Google… Happy Birthday Dear SearchEngineWePlacedOurTrustandFaithinandNowRulestheWorrrrrlllld….

Happy Birthday to Google. Read more…

Thursday, September 4th, 2003

Counter Googling Your Customers

Two years ago Google became an essential tool for singles looking to check into the background of people they were potentially interested in. A quick Google-check of a new date could help differentiate between princes and psychopaths. Googling friends, co-workers and other acquaintances became a guilty pastime for several Internet users, just as Googling oneself can be an enormous ego boost. It simply stands to reason that savvy business people and salesfolk have taken the tool to another level and are using Google to check out the interests and needs of clients and customers. A hotel in Los Angeles runs every reservation through Google to try to anticipate their guest’s needs before they arrive, placing early risers in east-facing rooms and vacationers in west-facing rooms. Read more…