Last Wednesday Google released the results of a survey they conducted on the Valentine’s Day shopping habits of 2214 adults. Here is an excerpt of the most interesting data for retailers:

Highlights From Survey Results:

Among U.S. adults who typically buy Valentine’s Day gifts:

  • 50% indicated that they purchase multiple Valentine’s Day gifts.
  • Although men and women (both 71%) are equally likely to typically buy at least one Valentine’s Day gift, women (56%) are more likely than men (44%) to buy multiple gifts.
  • 55% of men indicated that they plan to buy for spouse, compared with 44% of women.
  • These adults are more likely to buy Valentine’s Day gifts for their pets (6%) than their fathers (5%) or grandfathers (1%).
  • Women (83%) are more likely than men (74%) to indicate that they typically buy a Valentine’s Day gift for at least one family member.
  • 41% indicated that they plan to purchase from more than one store/website this Valentine’s Day.
  • 11% indicated that they typically spend $10 or less. On average, U.S. adults spend about $70 in total on Valentine’s Day gifts.

Among U.S. adults who typically buy Valentine’s Day gifts for a significant other:

  • Men (50%) are more likely than women (37%) to indicate typically buying multiple Valentine’s Day gifts for a significant other.

The purpose of the survey was to pitch the benefits of being found on Google Checkout but either way the information is intriguing.

This SEO answer is a follow-up to a common question I received from my recent article “The Most Common Reason for Dropped Rankings: Duplication“.

To be as clear as possible with my answer I am going to break it down into two sections: one for those who syndicate their own content and the other for those who publish syndicated content.

Please keep in mind, however, duplicate content is not an exact science or anything close to that. As I wrote this article, I often imagined exceptions where a penalty would or would not take place. That said the following answers are based on what my experience dictates to be the most common scenarios. Read more…

Ever since Google stopped showing accurate backlink (aka incoming link) counts to websites webmasters and SEOs have been forced to turn to other, more accurate tools like Yahoo. This hasn’t really been all that bad in my opinion but it is refreshing to hear that Google has finally launched a new backlinks analysis tool within Google Webmaster Central.

I have to say, it rocks! The system allows you to navigate a Google-generated sitemap of your website where at the right side of each page a number appears which denotes the number of backlinks to that page. Then, if you want more information on those backlinks you have only to click on it and a comprehensive list appears; very slick indeed. The list is even downloadable in .csv format.

For more information here is Google’s blog post regarding this update. I hope you enjoy this tool as much as I will. Just keep in mind that Matt Cutts noted the tool is not quite 100% accurate.

It is my pleasure to introduce to you Scott Smith, partner at CopyWriting.Net and copy writing guru. Before you read any further, however, I want to give you a heads up that this is not a normal article from StepForth. This is an unedited interview written in a very personal style. In other words, this is not the normal condensed knowledge that my staff and I try to put out every week. That said, I really wanted to introduce you to Scott because I feel his copywriting skills are top of the line and either his services or his tips may help you shore up your bottom line. If you want to get in touch with Scott Smith he is best contacted by email. Read more…

An interesting, albeit controversial, set of statistics was provided by Compete.com last week outlining the top 20 online properties that a pool of 2,000,000 people spent the most time on in December 2006.

Read more…

Hello all, I wanted to clear up a significant issue with my recent article “The Most Common Reason for Dropped Rankings: Duplication“. It was edited closely but apparently not quite close enough. Please note the following change in a question within the article: Read more…

Yesterday Google’s official webmaster blog announced that Googlebombing will be soon a way of the past thanks to some targeted attention from the search results team. Here is the gist of the posting:

We wanted to give a quick update about “Googlebombs.” By improving our analysis of the link structure of the web, Google has begun minimizing the impact of many Googlebombs. Now we will typically return commentary, discussions, and articles about the Googlebombs instead. The actual scale of this change is pretty small (there are under a hundred well-known Googlebombs), but if you’d like to get more details about this topic, read on.

Ultimately they admit these algorithm changes will not catch every Googlebomb but they expect the changes will clear out the majority.

What is a Google Bomb?

Repeatedly my sales and consulting staff find themselves explaining that using duplicate content can and will negatively affect search engine rankings and it is heartbreaking to see clients having to rebuild rankings due to such a simple mistake. As a result, I felt it was time to write this article and hopefully dispel many misled website owners.

Why write an entire article on something as simple as duplicate content? Well probably because it is not as simple as it sounds and many website owners find themselves in the grey area of duplication; where they don’t know for sure whether they are risking rankings or not. Read more…

On the 16th of January Wired Magazine published an article called “How Yahoo Blew It” which was a scathing review of the company’s drop in popularity and profitability. The article makes a strong case that “Yahoo fumbled, bungled, and mishandled its execution at every step” while trying to compete with Google.

The Wired article is an excellent essay on the trials and tribulations of Yahoo!’s growth and the potential reasons for its fall from grace; essentially concluding that there was not enough technological leadership. I highly recommend the 5 page read but do not forget Yahoo!’s rebuttal which tends to look positively on its situation: Read more…

“If at first you do not succeed, try and buy your market share.” Okay, admittedly this is a bad example of the mantra I am trying to get across but it does fairly represent the enticements a couple of search engines are using to attract users; Blingo and AGLOCO. Read more…