China is a nation of strict censorship and the country has been rightfully dealt a wealth of criticism for this fact. As many of you know the Internet is carefully screened by China to ensure the proper ‘facts’ of life are fed to its people. So I wonder, what exactly does China consider worthy of censorship?

Does your website fall into China’s wastebasket?
The Great Firewall of China is a website that is designed to tell you if your website is blocked in China. Try it yourself and see if your website is a banned substance. Although it is not now, I expect that the StepForth SEO Blog will be banned very soon thanks to this posting.

Here is just a sampling of sites that are completely blocked in China:

  • Wikipedia (
  • The New York Times (
  • The BBC News (
  • Amnesty International (

I found other site examples but they were not always banned, it seems site-wide censorship may occur only at certain times or connectivity issues are to blame. The other possibility is China is providing a slightly kinder viewpoint for users of the After all, they are bound to have noted this site’s existence and heightened popularity.

– Thanks to Jeremy Zawodny’s blog for the heads up on the great wall website.

Ross Dunn, CEO, StepForth SEO Services
Celebrating 10 Years of SEO Excellence

On March 16th, the International Corporation for Assigned Names & Numbers (ICANN) publicly de-accredited the domain registrar for fundamental contractual breaches. BusinessWeek Online appropriately called the debacle a “Train wreck” and although this is not SEO-related I think StepForth SEO Blog readers should be kept in the know about this situation. Perhaps this post will help you protect your domain(s) and ultimately your livelihoods from future train wrecks. To that end, I have outlined some tips at the end of this post that will serve as a checklist to help protect you. Read more…

Today Adobe unveiled the alpha release of Apollo which Adobe’s Mike Downey describes as a “cross operating system runtime that allows users to install desktop applications built using web technologies such as HTML, JavaScript and Flash.” In layman’s terms, Apollo enables web developers to create applications for your computer using the web technology they already know and work in. Read more…

Today I came across a beta viewing of ASK’s future layout and platform. I didn’t look at it hard so I can’t say anything all that super intelligent at the moment but my first impression was so-so (i.e. nothing that blew me away):

Last week a UK guerrilla marketing campaign launched by ASK was photographed on a train on a London subway featuring ASK’s familiar oval logo background shown below the loudspeaker (photo credit Ben Werdmuller). The campaign has raised the ire of a few people and opened the eyes of some others. All-in-all, the campaign has been shown to be one hell of a news-making promotion… which has undoubtedly forced a grin from the staff at ASK. Anyway, here is a little run down on the events to date:

The advertisement is actually rather anonymous, merely suggesting that viewers visit Once on that site, however, if you look around the page you can ultimately tell it is a ASK website via the logo on the bottom right of the page. Read more…

Today Google announced it is acquiring Adscape, a company that has pioneered dynamic integration of advertisements within video games. This purchase is yet another brilliant move that will continue to keep Google on the cutting edge of advertisement distribution.

Here are some highlights from Google’s FAQ on the Adscape acquisition: Read more…

chart of search engine user behavior - courtesy of JupiterResearch and iProspectCourtesy of JupiterResearch and iProspect, this chart provides a glimpse of the number of search engine results surfers will review before choosing their path.

As an admitted stats junky I really enjoy this kind of data. I hope you find it enlightening as well. It may be these numbers are far from a surprise but at least they confirm your beliefs which is a comforting thought in itself.

You have probably heard a ton about Social Bookmarking or Social Media Networking, or …. it goes on; as within anything on the Internet there are a myriad of different terms to describe this phenomenon. What it comes right down to though are votes. Similar to a backlink to a website, social bookmarks are a method for the average joe to share a great online find with the rest of the world. As others share their favorite finds the bookmarked content has a greater chance of generating more and more interest. Content that gets the most interest will earn prominent visibility that can earn hundreds and even thousands of free backlinks. As a result, making it easy for users to socially bookmark your content is definitely in your best interest. From my experience the most popular bookmarking websites are Digg it, Reddit, and Read more…

Transferring traffic and popularity to a new domain is a painstaking process that no one on the web appears to be immune to, or so has realized. is a leading news aggregation resource that has been in the news lately because they are planning to move their site from to after purchasing the .com for a cool million from a Canadian animation company.

The Wall Street Journal wrote this article explaining how damaging a seemingly simple process of switching from .net to .com could be for Topix LLC. The author goes on to explain such a switch is usually fraught with ranking drops while the major search engines notice and respond to the changeover. The fact that switching addresses will cause problems is not news in the SEO world; however, I thought’s situation was a great opportunity to review what one might expect when switching domains. Read more…

Jakob Nielsen is an authority on usability; “the elegance and clarity with which the interaction with a computer program or a web site is designed” (Wikipedia). His tips are always worth reading and often worth implementing into your own website(s) whenever applicable.

In his most recent newsletter, Jakob Nielsen released a list of 10 redesign recommendations that are the most likely to increase return on investment. The subjects discussed are: Read more…