Google Update, Ask Jeeves and Yahoo Live TV

    February 17, 2005

Google is conducting a house cleaning stemming from what appears to be an algorithm update.

Several SEOs have noted the typical precursors of change including a decrease in counted back-links and minor fluctuations in page-rank values. For the past few days, Google’s results have been bouncing, with placements moving up and down frequently. For a short period last Friday, Google was displaying site descriptions drawn from the Open Directory Project. Last week, just after we began to note these indicators several sites in the SEO sector started losing their placements.

The StepForth domain is doing quite well remaining in the Top10 for our targets across all major search engines. Our continued high placements, when considered against those of some of our competitors show many of the critical items that bring success when chasing highly competitive keyword phrases.

Content continues to be king. We create virtually all our own content. The wording of our site content, including those of our sub-domain sites (news, blog, consultancy, etc…) is written with our target keyword phrases in mind. While the INDEX page only changes two or three times a year, the internal structure grows bigger every day. Google really appreciates topically relevant content and is known to revisit sites when content changes. Blogs are good tools to help your site bulk up topical content. While they don’t have to rank themselves, they easily expand the amount of content offered at the domain.

The next major difference seen between SEO sites that continued to rank well and SEO sites that recently lost placements is topically conservative linking strategies. Sites that continue to rank well tend to only seek incoming links from highly relevant sources. SEO sites that have spread their URLs widely across forums, blogs and client-site networks seem to have lost positioning.

SEOs have been cautious about site-wide links for at least six months which has lead to a decline in link-selling schemes. That caution has paid off for those who avoided the temptation to place site-wide links in as many places as possible. Google does recognize the line between all-in links strategies and “valid” text-link advertising.

Lastly, we continue to note the high value of anchor text (text used to phrase a link). A tight focus on our target keyword phrases when links are directed to a page in the StepForth domain helps support strong rankings under those phrases.

With an update obviously underway, webmasters are advised to check the keyword phrases used on their sites, make certain SEO basics are covered and continue to cultivate topical links from relevant sites.

Ask Jeeves Working Overtime

In a universe dominated by Google, Yahoo and MSN, Ask Jeeves doesn’t find the spotlight often enough. That sad fact might soon change as Ask Jeeves has taken two major initiatives, one on the tech front, another on the PR front.

First the fun stuff. Ask Jeeves is going on an advertising binge. They have posted a preview of six 30-second spots on their blog.

Next, the technical stuff. Ask has a great search engine, smart management and a very dedicated staff. They have all the elements for success except the environment in which they work is dominated by the three giants. Ask has spent the past few months acquiring similar tools and technologies to those offered by their larger competitors. Boasting new blog creation software, a well thought-out contextual advertising program and talks with other technology creators in the works, Ask Jeeves is doing its best to brand itself as a credible alternative search engine. Now it looks like they are ready to take a lead with talk of an AskJeeves branded Browser in partnership with Firefox creators

A recent posting to the Ask Jeeves Blog by Tech VP Tuoc Luong, details a visit he and Ask CEO Jim Lanzone paid Mozilla two weeks ago. Luong ends his post with this spirited declaration: “Lots of exciting possibilities to help take back the Web…”

The future of the industry is a mystery but with all great mysteries, it looks like the butler is going to continue to play a major role as this story evolves.

Yahoo to Begin Streaming Live TV

And so it begins. A partnership between search giant Yahoo and entertainment giant Showtime brings us the streaming of Kristie Alley’s new comedy vehicle “Fat Actress”. The web-cast begins March 7th, at the same time the show debuts on the Showtime network. Access to the debut episode will be open on Yahoo TV until March 12th.

Jim Hedger is the SEO Manager of StepForth Search Engine Placement Inc. Based in Victoria, BC, Canada, StepForth is the result of the consolidation of BraveArt Website Management, Promotion Experts, and Phoenix Creative Works, and has provided professional search engine placement and management services since 1997. Tel – 250-385-1190 Toll Free – 877-385-5526 Fax – 250-385-1198