The first six months of 2006 have been a period of expansion, growth and significant change in the search marketing universe. There have never been as many online options available to commercial advertisers and their agents as there is right now, a trend that shows no signs of abating. Just to keep things interesting, lot more change is expected in the second half of the year as well.

Search engine marketing, as an online business sector, covers a lot of virtual ground. Search engine optimization started as a cottage industry in the mid 90’s. By the mid 2K’s, Cottage country had become an industrial district. Today, the search marketing sector extends far beyond the organic search results the business was originally built on. Read more…

Links are the primary arteries of the Internet, the underlying connectors between different places. Links are the transporters that take you everywhere on the web. You likely came to this space via a link and are as likely to follow one out again. Links keep you going online, hopefully to places you want or need to get to.

Google created the most successful information retrieval device of all time based on sending spiders to follow each and every link they can find on each and every web document they come across. Yahoo, MSN, Ask, and all the other search databases have acquired the vast amounts of information they contain in similar fashion. Links play important roles in the ranking formulas of all search engines, especially Google, by providing numerous pieces of data for their algorithms to chew through. Read more…

Does anyone remember the hissy-fit Google threw at the beginning of this month over the default settings of Microsoft’s new web browser IE7?

To recap, Google gave Microsoft a week of headaches, going as far as complaining to the US Department of Justice over the fact that IE7 defaults to MSN search unless another search engine had been set as the user-preference before installation. Read more…

Yahoo and eBay have formed a strategic partnership in order to tie up a number of loose ends both firms feared losing to Google. The agreement, announced earlier today, will see the each firm provide functions and services to each other and each other’s users in areas ranging from search results, graphical advertising, online payments, the creation of a co-branded toolbar and an opportunity for both firms to explore “pay-per-call” advertising options. Read more…

Thursday, May 25th, 2006

Congratulations Barry and Yisha

Noted search journalist Barry Schwartz (aka: rustybrick) is getting married on Sunday to his financee of eight months, Yisha Tversky.

Barry issued the first known marriage proposal via search engine when the folks at Ask Jeeves (now helped him pop the question by placing his proposal page at the top of search results for a keyword phrase he knew Yisha would be searching for (her name).

Yisha, who is about to marry one of the nicest guys in the industry, immediately said yes and hopeless romantics through-out the industry (like us here at StepForth) smiled and wiped stray tears from our eyes when Barry shared the news.

Due to Barry’s notoriety, the search industry paparazzi are rumored to be planning a stakeout of the wedding. Watch for photos to be published on Flickr sometime next week, or perhaps on the site, Yisha &

Congratulations Barry and Yisha. Best wishes from your friends (and readers) at StepForth Placement.

As it turns out, the revolution will be televised, or sort of televised anyway. Actually, it starts as a commercial.

Google introduced a new age of advertising earlier this week by announcing plans to distribute video commercials on websites in its pay per click AdWords network. The move opens the once exclusive marketing channel of televised ads to a far wider array of small and medium businesses. Read more…

Sometime around January or February, a number of webmasters began to notice that Google had somehow “lost” huge portions of their websites. Reference to their sites, generally to the index pages and a seemingly random selection of internal pages existed in Google listings but pages that once drove sizable amounts of traffic appeared to vanish into the ether. As February rolled into March, more reports were posted to blogs and forums by frustrated webmasters who started to notice the number of pages from their sites had declined, significantly, in Google’s index. Read more…

Tuesday, May 16th, 2006

Yahoo!'s Home Improvement

Yahoo! has given itself a cosmetic but functional facelift that blends most (if not all) of Yahoo!’s subscriber based products and features with a sleeker, easier to use layout.

Yahoo! remains an information dense portal but good use DHTML and Ajax in designing an expanding menu system makes finding your way around the vast array of options much simpler. Yahoo! has also introduced a number of personalized information tools that present emails, messages, and music options, along with localized content such as movie reviews, playtimes, local traffic and local weather. Read more…

Yahoo is not going to sell its self in part or whole to Microsoft. Over the past two weeks, there have been rumblings of a potential merger or outright acquisition involving the two tech giants. In an interview with the Financial Times, “Yahoo rebuffs Microsoft offer”, Yahoo CEO Terry Semel confirmed rumours regarding discussions between the two firms but stated unequivocally that Yahoo is not for sale.

“The search business has been formed”, said Semel. “My impartial advice to Microsoft is that you have no chance.” Read more…

What’s in a name?

Lee Roberts makes a shopping cart, content management solution known as ApplePieCart, or more appropriately, he used to. On April 11, 2006, Lee received a note from Apple Computer’s lawyers demanding he stop using a name that might confuse consumers.

Apple Computers, which makes or sells computers, software, music and accessories, uses a red apple with a bite taken out of it as a logo, placing it along side the name of a popular fruit. ApplePieCart, which makes an ecommerce solution aimed at people who already own computers, uses a green apple leaf extending upwards at a 45-degree angle from the name of a popular American dessert item.

At the time of the serving, Apple Computers was embroiled in a trademark case against Apple Records, the record distribution label started by the Beatles. That case was recently settled, and both can use the name Apple without confusing consumers, even though both are technically in the business of music distribution. Apple records, incidentally, uses a green MacIntosh apple as its logo, not to be confused with the Macintosh Apple computer, made by the other Apple, the one that makes computers.

Since he received the letter from Apple Computer’s lawyers, Lee’s life has turned upside down.

He consulted his lawyer who told him he could fight the case for about $500,000 without a guarantee of winning. The other option would be to rename his business. Lee estimated that would cost about $200,000, give or take a small fortune.

He opted for the second choice and has since set out on the long journey of changing his business name from ApplePieCart to MerchantMetrix.

“We’re having to do a new logo and all the identity branding. We need an entire new website. We need to re-polish the software. And then, think about all of the links we have going to our website. All the name recognition, we’re losing that. What would I consider the value of this? I would say in excess of $200K. My attorneys say it will cost me $500K to defend the name, with no guarantee I would win.”

Lee has also stopped advertising his business, citing the confusion the name change and software upgrades will cause new clients. “I had WebProWorld write me to see if I would advertise with them. I haven’t responded yet but I guess they’ll know why I can’t now.” Lee said.

Lee has actually applied for the rights to the name ApplePie Shopping Cart, submitting an application to the US Patent office in June 2005. Last week he received a notice from that office saying the name had been Published for opposition on the second of May, giving “…30 days to notify the US Patent and trademark office of such issue or opposition to the registration of the trademark Applepiecart”.

“I had developed many shopping carts and my wife told me I should make one that was easy to use. She said it should be as easy as making apple pie. After finding out that it takes about 45-minutes to make an apple pie from scratch, we decided that we would call it ApplePie because it was so easy to use.”

Q. “Does it take less than 45-minutes to learn how to use it?”

A. “No, it’s easier than that. It takes about 30-minutes.”

“All of our Video Tutorials have to be redone to”, Lee added, almost as an afterthought.