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So what awaits us in the future? Will it be Yalta, or, as most seem to think, Yinktomi? (Actually, I kinda like the idea of or Y'alltheweb for you Southerners!)
Will affiliates get a fair go? Certainly the playing field is changing, time to change bats perhaps?
Will MSN get their engine going? I hope so, and I hope there are more Search Engines waiting in the wings. We need more players and more variety, a little friendly competition at the top end.
It seems the the saying "there is nothing so constant as change itself" is as true today as ever. Of course Change is what the SEO business is all about. That constant duck and weave in pursuit of the allusive top position. "Should I use the keyword once or twice in the title and should I then use stems in the text? Will that have the desired effect come next update." Sigh, Decisions Decisions.
Whatever happens, we are, as the Chinese say, "living in interesting times."
So, following past traditions, let me start the official 2004 thread by wishing you all a Happy, Safe and Prosperous New Year.
I think "safe and prosperous" will depend in 2004 on how far you have already penetrating your market on the web. I think new sites are going to find things much tougher than old established ones and the drive towards monetised results will be relentless.
I see Google as losing at least some of its dominance, obviously with Yaltawebtomiture giving Google the boot. But that will be termpered with a Google IPO I presume which will give it plenty of publicity to compensate for losing Yahoo.
But MSN is the big one for me. I really look forward to their offering as I am sure it will be incredibly monetised and I believe it will be rather user-centric so that different users get different results depending on their history, geography and previous search patterns. That will be very exciting for me and I can see will be very bad for others. Either way, MSN is a giant waiting to pounce and they are very good at steering jugganauts.
One thing that I havn't really seen much talk of is the obvious change in user behaviour as PDAs and non-terminal based Internet access grows. I am looking forward to seeing sites that only work in IE generating more and more lost traffic, hopefully to my benefit occassionally.
What is difficult in changing times is to grow the company I have found. A one or two person Internet Marketing business can learn and adapt very quickly, but as a business gropws it needs more sophisticated controls - especially quality controls - and every time we put a process in place that we think will last, the foundations change underneath us. Clearly this is the excitement of the game but it still gives one man experts an edge if they choose the right markets I think. In the end though, the big money marketing will win out.
Definitely interesting times.
Woz was looking to the future in his post but I find myself looking to the past. This board has certainly changed since I joined, so long ago. But the one thing that has remained constant is the friendliness and willingness to share among our members and staff.
I just want to thank each and every one of you for "lending your voice" and being a part of this place. I sincerely hope '04 brings each of you whatever it is that makes you happy!
Happy New Year! :)