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Hi folks,

it is 12:15 on Friday the 19th. As of 15 minutes ago, the holiday season started for StepForth staff. Here is our holiday schedule in case folks want to get a hold of us:

StepForth will be closed for holidays during the week of Dec. 22 – Dec 29. We will be operating with a reduced staff from Dec. 29 to January 5th. We will be closed for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

From all of us at StepForth, have a happy and safe holiday season and thanks for an excellent 2003.

Please understand that this poem is tongue-in-cheek and that our staff is working harder than elves on a deadline. I needed to take some liberties with reality to make the poem work. It’s Christmas and my friends got together and bought me an artistic license. I thought I’d use it… :) Happy Yule y’all!

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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%)

Google has been showing really bizarre results today. Just when I start to think Google is coming back to some sense of normal I see a client report or conduct a random search that shows that Google has not gotten back to normal. Before the recent Florida Update, I could be reasonably sure that if a site was in the Top10 at Lycos or Alta Vista, it was almost certainly Top10 at Google. Today, that is not the case, or at least not all of the time.

Ross noticed something interesting a few minutes ago. Google does not seem to be measuring back-links in any noticable way. Ross re-worked an optimization effort for one of his clients’ sites last week on the assumption that really strong SEO would beat sites with high link-densities and suddenly, the site is in the #2 spot on Google after being dropped during the Florida Update. We are attempting the same practice on another couple of sites (with client permission of course) in the hopes that our assumption is correct. With Google spidering and re-spidering like mad these days, we hope to see results withing three or four days.

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Tuesday, November 25th, 2003

Jumpin'… Thanks Garrett

Garrett French has pasted StepForth all over the front of WebProNews and his newsletter today. Amazing… We’re getting a lot of attention and a lot of visits to the site. We just wanted to say thank you Garrett, you are the entire Top10, IMHO Read more…

Happy Monday morning folks… DON’T PANIC!

Have y’all taken a look at Google today? Yes, what you are seeing is real. Google is showing totally different listings on the search engine returns pages today. Actually, this weirdness started sometime on Friday night or Saturday morning. Most of our clients have not been affected and the only one we have seen effected has had his rankings rise dramatically. Our site has been affected though, rather badly at that. From the #6 spot under the phrase “Search Engine Placement”, the happy-go-lucky StepForth site has dropped past the fifth page of returns.

I think this is a temporary thing. We last saw such a massive shake-up six months ago and the listings went back to normal after a few days. This sort of shake-up generally indicates that Google is re-ordering their entire database of spidered sites.

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Wednesday, November 12th, 2003

Much A-Google About Spamming

Recently we have received a great deal of mail on the subject of SEO Spam, especially as it relates to Google. It seems lots of folk are complaining about the quality of the SERPs (search engine returns pages) at Google and the fact that many (not all) of the Top10 found at Google seem to have gotten there by using Spam tactics. We are getting a number of inquiries asking what a webmaster should do when they find their site(s) pushed out of the Top20 by sites using Spam and if SEOs should start using Spammy techniques on their client’s websites. These questions have raised a number of important ethical and practical discussions amongst the staff here and has generated more than one debate at our quarterly staff/client parties. At the risk of generating even more email, here are some of my thoughts on the issue. Read more…