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The firm I work for, StepForth Placement is making a service out of cleaning up other people’s search marketing messes. That alone is not big news. As a part of our general services SEO firms have been cleaning up other people’s messes for years. What is big news is that Google finally appears to be taking action against some of the most egregious forms of “black-hat” SEO techniques. Cleaning up messy SEO might be more important than ever. Read more…

Proving that even the big can get themselves burned badly, the brand new website of German automaker BMW has been blacklisted from the Google index for spamming. Read more…

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Friday, January 6th, 2006

Google's BigDaddy Data Center

Anyone want a quick glance at a small piece of the future? Not only can you see what will soon be there to be seen, if you don’t like what you see there, you can file a complaint.

Google is asking for feedback on one of its main testing data centers, BigDaddy. Bigdaddy is now visible at two IPs: 66.249.93.104 and 64.233.179.104. In a blog posting on January 4, Google’s chief search engineer Matt Cutts, confirmed the existence and role of the BigDaddy data center and asked for webmaster feedback.

“We’d like to get general quality feedback. For example, this data center lays the groundwork for better canonicalization, although most of that will follow down the road. But some improvements are already visible with site: searches.” Read more…

Many thanks to the readers and responders who nominated our blog as one of the top search engine optimization related blogs of 2005. In the end, we did not win however, we feel honoured to have been nominated and are pretty much pleased with the results. Read more…

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Tuesday, December 20th, 2005

Matt Cutts Gives a Google Lesson

Matt Cutts has given librarians and school teachers an early Christmas present. In an article published in Google’s Newsletter for Librarians, Cutts gives a basic explanation of how Google ranks and sorts documents found in its index. Along the way, he offers search engine marketers a bit of advice on what Google is examining when looking at specific websites. Read more…

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Wednesday, October 19th, 2005

Google Jagger Update

In case you haven’t noticed, there is a fairly significant update happening at Google right now. As with all other major updates, Brett Tabke from WebmasterWorld has given it a name, Jagger.

Jagger is keeping true to previous Google updates and is wreaking havoc on the nerves of many webmasters, SEOs and small businesses who’s placements seem to have vanished overnight. Starting sometime over the weekend, Google started showing results that looked somewhat different from the results shown earlier.

The changes actually started with a string of back-link updates that began in early September and continued into the first week of October. Two weeks later, the information Google has in regards to links directed towards a specific website is likely different than the information it had two months ago. That is likely the cause of immediate changes to the SERPS.

The most important advice in dealing with any type of Jagger is simple; don’t panic.

Like temporary hearing loss, effects suffered by a visit of the Jagger Update will likely dissipate over time. What you are experiencing right now is the flash of the live-time update show in which everything is bigger (like the big-boxes who dominate the rankings right now), and badder (like the spam that rises to the surface before sinking).

Google updates happen in phases and tend to take a few weeks to fully work themselves out. If your website has suddenly lost rankings for no reason whatsoever, there is likely a simple explanation. It tends to happen during updates. More often than not, the site moves itself back up again as it and its document histories are reweighed against sites with similarly themed content.

During the infamous Florida Update , the StepForth site dropped to the mid 100′s and then to the 1000′s before bobbing back up to the #6 spot it holds today.

That’s not to say a sudden loss of ranking is ok by any stretch. If your site loses its placement overnight, there might be a problem it shares with other sites that lost placements at the same time.

According to Google Engineer Matt Cutts , the changes stem from a series of back-link updates starting in early September. Obviously, that’s where we are looking when investigating client sites that have been adversely affected by this phase of the update. We have noticed that some clients sharing similar outbound link pages have dropped in rankings. While stopping short of advising clients to immediately remove those pages, we are looking very closely at the link-paths established by our clients to try to judge how Google is looking at those links.

We hope to have concrete information to print in our blog in coming days but it will take a while to really see how Jagger is going to play out. In the meantime, we will have advice for our clients in coming days.

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Wednesday, October 19th, 2005

Splogs + Scraping + AdSense = Fraud

The other day, an article appeared in Search Engine Journal suggesting webmasters monetize their sites using Google AdSense. While the article neglected to mention an alternative webmaster advertising program offered by Yahoo Search Marketing, the idea of using one’s website as a commercial medium (if possible or practical) makes good sense and can provide a minor side-income. Such minor side-incomes are often the first ingredients in making the gravy craved by all small business owners. Read more…

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Tuesday, September 20th, 2005

Google Testing Penalization Notices

Long known for its external secrecy, Google has been opening up lines of communications over the past year to the delight of SEOs and webmasters. About eighteen months ago, an anonymous character known as Google Guy began appearing at certain search-related discussion forums sharing information and answering questions. The experiment with the Google Guy persona was very successful and now one of Google’s top engineers, Matt Cutts is a regular contributor to several search related discussion forums. Read more…