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.

The winner of the category we were competing in was Google engineer Matt Cutts . Matt, as many of you already know, is more popular than Britney Spears in the search community and (arguably) better known than Bono. He is one of the mega-stars of search and as such, writes one of the most popular blogs on search marketing. He is also the closest thing search marketers have to a real Google Guru. He helps mould the machine we market across and is gracious enough to speak and write about it in public. His win was almost assured from the moment he was nominated. Given the prominence of the writer of the winning blog, (one I strongly suggest all interested in search marketing read religiously), he who came a close second should also be considered a clear winner. Unfortunately, that wasn’t us either.

Fortunately, the author who came in second is one of those guys who you just can’t help but like, Aaron Wall of . To say Aaron is a nice guy is like saying Google is a rather popular search appliance. Last year, after the devastating December 26 tsunami, Aaron donated six week’s worth of proceeds from the sale of his most recent book to tsunami relief efforts. I have seen enough posts authored by Aaron extolling the virtues of charity, service and common sense to tell me he is the real deal when it comes to helping others. That, in my books, is enough to make any person a winner. I have also read enough of his posts on SEO and SEM to know that not only is Aaron one of the biggest hearts in our industry, he honestly knows his source-code.

Coming in third was another of the rock-stars of search marketing, Rand Fishkin . Rand is well known and well liked among his colleagues and I consider myself a fan. Oddly enough, Rand was disappointed to come third, calling it a loss. I stand with other posters to his blog in saying being the third most popular SEO blog in the world is pretty good, especially when the Top2 are Matt and Aaron.

Now, at this point, I would like to point out that the voting was very close for all of the thirteen blogs nominated in our category. We came in ninth place, a respectable enough finish considering our blog is known for its long analytic articles, a notable difference from most of the others which tend to contain a larger number of shorter posts. Rounding out the remaining ten blogs we find (in order of votes), StuntDubl, Greg Boser, Jim Boykin, SEOBlackHat, SEO Speed Wagon, StepForth SEO Blog, Link Building Blog, Text Link Blog, SEObytheSEA, and FishSEO.

The one nominee I am disappointed to have been beaten by is the black-hat blog. While the others tend to provide good, ethical information, I am of the opinion the black-hat blog does the industry a tremendous disservice by promoting the absolute wrong way to run what should be an honest business. This is not a game, this is real life. To be successful as an industry, we need to act ethically and be seen to act ethically. The black-hat blog is not a haven for ethics.

Aside from being beaten by practitioners from the lower end of the ethics pool, I can’t help but feel the StepForth SEO Blog is in good company and has received a vote of confidence from our readers. Thank you all very much.

The results of the Search Engine Journal poll will result in some major changes to our blog. We will be posting a lot more frequently and with a regularity that would make a Metamucil executive jealous. We will continue to endeavor to deliver a strong dose of analysis and educated assumption, as we did throughout 2005. We would also like to do more interviews, test more products, and take advantage of more of the technologies we have been privileged enough to preview or beta test. 2006 is going to be a transformative year for the StepForth News team and, I think, for the SEO side of the business that supports us. We are looking forward to the coming year and hope that, with hard work, clear writing and good intention, we will place higher in voting for the 2006 SEO Blog awards.