sub-domain-zombie-hunting.minLast week I wrote an article for The SEM Post on the hazards of zombie sub-domains and how your very own site could be affected without you being the wiser. I also used an example of which is the 177th most trafficked website in the USA yet it is suffering from zombie sub-domains; it can truly happen to anyone.

What follows is the introduction and a link to the full article here:

Google dislikes spending precious resources indexing web content on your site that is of no consequence to itself or its users. Inconsequential web content can be present in the form of duplicated pages and irrelevant or repetitive and/or thin text. Even worse, it is a waste of Google’s crawl budget on your site and such content will delay the indexing of legitimate content. In this case, however, the offense is greater than usual because we are dealing with unlimited duplicate versions of a website triggered by improperly installed DNS wildcards; I none to fondly call them zombie sub-domains.

DNS wildcards are used in a variety of ways but in this case I am focusing on the desirable redirect from a non-existent or miss-typed sub-domain to the appropriate URL (e.g. the root of the TLD).

Please continue reading my article “Why Google Dislikes Zombie Sub-Domains” at its official home on The SEM Post.

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Introducing Sarah-Hannah Bedard

We would like to introduce the newest member of our team, Sarah-Hannah Bedard.

Sarah-Hannah is our new Office Manager and Bookkeeper. Over the years Sarah-Hannah has managed many businesses including; a large phone company, a high end Home cinema and integrated media company, a Goldsmith studio and high end jewellery store as well as her own successfully run business of 19 years.

After moving back to Victoria to be closer to family, Sarah-Hannah met Ross and joined the StepForth team back in January. Among other tasks, her duties at StepForth include bookkeeping, project management, social media marketing, and helping to keep everything running smoothly around the office.

An excellent multi-tasker and problem solver, Sarah-Hannah is a ray of sunshine and a valued member of our team. Her sense of humour always keeps us laughing around the office.

When not whipping our office into shape, she enjoys spending time at home at her workbench making custom jewellery, reading, and exploring our beautiful city on her bike.

Ross  recaps his presentation at the the Design Tech Summit at the International Window Coverings Expo at KBIS / IBS.

  • He discussed the 3 areas of web marketing from Audits and SEO to Analytics and lastly Reputation Enhancement.


The February 11th SEO 101 podcast is available now: listen or download (right click and save). You can also find all past shows on iTunes. Tune in to SEO 101 LIVE every Thursday at 1pm PST / 4pm EST on www.WebmasterRadio.FM

Online christmas shoppingAs an online retailer, you’re already ahead of the game for holiday sales. Last year, the Chase Holiday Pulse tracked early holiday sales from October 29th through November 15th and found that e-commerce sales volume was up 12.3 percent over the previous year, while brick-and-mortar sales were only up 1.0 percent. Consumers are obviously interested in doing at least some of their holiday shopping online, which is good news for your business. Make sure you take advantage of the holiday season by utilizing current digital trends.

Reduce Your Prices

While sales volume is increasing online, shoppers are also looking for better prices. The Chase Holiday Pulse discovered that the average online purchase amount went down 10.1 percent during the 2012 holiday season, compared to the year before, the second decline in a row. If you give online promotions, you might get more customers.

Choose Your Timing Wisely

There are fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year for shoppers to buy gifts. The Adobe Digital Index suggests this could cause a $1.5 billion loss in potential online retail sales. The Index notes that to be successful this year, encourage customers not to wait for Black Friday and beyond, but to offer good deals before and let customers know the deals won’t get better later. Large brick-and-mortar retailers are already doing this, Read more…

This provocative title describes my presentation tomorrow (October 19th, 2013) at Victoria BC’s Blogger Bootcamp where I will be talking up a blue streak about the importance of Google Authorship for bloggers. I know, it is a title that deserves healthy skepticism and that was the point – bloggers especially need to understand Authorship is NOT to be taken lightly. Truly, ignore it a your peril!

Here is the official description of the presentation I will be giving: Read more…

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Web Site Audits Should be Free

One of the most common questions I get in sales call as my role as an SEO and web site auditor is,

“Why should I pay you just so you can tell me what is wrong with my web site and what it will cost to fix it? After all, you don’t pay your mechanic to diagnose your car and provide a quote, do you?

Web site audits should be free

A much more pleasant version of that mechanic analogy was used in an email I received recently from a prospect who I have been in a number of discussions with in regards to helping her improve site visibility and site conversions for the charity she represents. She happens to be very engaged in the car industry which explains the analogy. Since I have to reply to her anyway I thought I would spend a little time to create an article I can show to StepForth’s valued readers and future prospects.

First, Some Insight into What a Web Site Audit Should Include

I can only speak for our own services but whenever we pitch a web site audit to a prospect/client we  explain they are paying for a service that will:

  1. Examine all online and offsite factors (i.e. links to the site, and/or social media usage, and/or online reputation) that can have an impact on the web site’s search engine rankings and (optionally but preferably) its ability to convert browsers into buyers; or for the charities we support the ability to convert browsers into donors.
  2. Provide in-depth results complete with detailed appendices as applicable; some of the overly in-depth data is often placed here in case the client wishes to review it.
  3. The final report will include all of the issues found in priority of importance and we often include instructions to implement each recommendation.
  4. We include a 30 min to 1 hour (depending on size of audit) conference call to review the results with them and answer any questions.

In short, we provide the roadmap to improving their web site’s opportunities for increased rankings and we do so using clear and concise language. This service takes between 6 and 15 hours for small-to-medium sized sites between the research, analysis and writing of the final report plus the final meeting. Larger websites with long (and sometimes turbulent) histories of online marketing can take upwards of 24-30 hours to audit. Read more…

Today Google announced two powerful new ways to explore what is trending on Google within Google Trends. These tools will come in handy when you need fresh ideas for blog posts and they will lend insight into what key topics you can weave into a content idea you already have in order to ride the wave of a particular trend; not that I or Miley Cyrus would do that.

1) Trending Top Charts

Find out what is trending overall on Google in the USA (more countries on the way soon apparently) for a wide variety of categories on the new Top Charts section within Google Trends.

A screenshot of Google's new Top Charts

Miley Cyrus straddling a wrecking ballHow to Use Miley Cyrus and Trending Top Charts to Your Advantage

We can see in the current trends above that Miley Cyrus is a huge topic right now in the search stream. Based on that information perhaps you decide your next article on social media reputation management will focus on her so you can capitalize on all of the search interest she has drummed up.You can do this by making the article all about Miley’s public antics and how they have affected her online reputation. If your article is of a high quality in terms of the message it provides, the examples and the writing then those factors along with the  use of Miley Cyrus’s name will likely drum up a heck of a lot of traffic through direct visits and shares; whether this is the type of traffic you want is another question entirely (no comment).

Read more…

Asian Girl WritingA 2012 survey by Zinch and Inigral revealed that approximately 72 percent of college bound students utilized social media networks to research prospective colleges and universities for their higher education. Considering the importance that students place on these networks, it only makes sense that colleges follow suit. The following gives some insight into how six savvy colleges are using social media to meet prospective students’ needs.

College of Saint Rose

Recruiting new students is always at the forefront of a college or university, and social media can play a key role in accomplishing this task. The College of Saint Rose in Albany, N.Y., utilizes social media in the form of YouTube videos, Instagram photos, Facebook ads and tweets to highlight campus culture and events that make their institution unique. Direct messaging from Facebook also provides a means for students to send further inquiries directly to the institution. In this way, the college can attract students who are specifically interested in what it has to offer.

University of Washington at Seattle

For many students, college is the first time they are away from home, personal family and friends. Social media is one way students can connect with their peers and establish new relationships. Ranking ninth among the top 100 Social Media Colleges in the country, the University of Washington in Seattle Read more…

A screenshot of the form Google posted to request feedback on their search policiesToday Google announced the release of a form which offers you and me to provide them with our thoughts on how they should police and manage their search results. Yes, you read that right… they are listening to our feedback… if for a short time. So, head on over there and make yourself heard while you can.

The questions they are asking are:

What is the Search issue that you want to improve?

What is your proposed policy change or solution?

And you have the ability to add corresponding examples and other information in a final form field.

If you entered some suggestions we would love to hear about them in the comments. Please share! We might even raise your points on the next episode of SEO 101 on WebmasterRadio.FM



The Vine logoThe clock is ticking, and you have 6.5 seconds to make an impression. That’s the premise behind Vine, Twitter’s micro-video app that’s sweeping across social media platforms. While the majority of Vine videos are for entertainment purposes, businesses have caught on to the trend. reports that 87 percent of marketers in the U.S. use video for content marketing, so adopting Vine is a natural transition for many companies. But how are businesses supposed to make a point in such a short time span? Major businesses are getting creative and building their brands through these short clips.

Marketers have high-definition cameras, hughesnet plans and advanced analytics at their disposal, but these simple videos are leveling the playing field. Whether you’re trying to introduce a product or humanize your brand, consider these templates as you build Vine into your social media strategy.

Make an Impression

In a 6.5-second video, the worst thing you can be is boring. A Vine video doesn’t need a call to action or even specific information about your business. If it leaves viewers impressed, you just earned a small dose of brand loyalty. Samsung has a multi-million dollar advertising budget, but it isn’t too big to post this frivolous, creative video Read more…