WebmasterRadio.FM has released a fascinating, if not alarming, story series based on the issues of click fraud and terrorist fund raising that is sure to be the subject of many water cooler sessions. As the story unfolds we will know more but here is a snippet that describes the concerns/accusations against the pay per click industry:

“The series starts with an interview with Clarence Briggs, CEO of hosting firm AIT.com. Mr. Briggs was a lead proponent in one of the class action lawsuits Google settled in the spring of 2006. Because the case was settled out of court, Google was never forced to show how they charge for some clicks and dismiss others as invalid. Mr. Briggs maintains Google is doing business as usual, just as they did before the class actions were initiated.

“During the interview, Mr. Briggs noted the use of click fraud by criminal and terrorist organizations. Our investigation has found several incidents of this type of activity. We have also found evidence of bot-nets used to facilitate click fraud, primarily against Google advertisers.” (source, WebmasterRadio.FM – linked here)

Jim Hedger, a past writer at StepForth and a good friend is one of the leaders of this investigation so I am sure to get notified as soon as more information is released – at which time I will post a follow up ASAP.

Google engineer Matt Cutts wrote an extensive post describing Google’s response to a website that had undoubtedly been hacked. If you are at all curious as to what would happen to your website rankings on Google should it be hacked please read this post – it is an excellent read and comforting in my book. Read more…

Now this is a coup that must have PayPal shaking. Google has announced that it will be extending its waiver of fees past the end of 2006 to December 31st, 2007! Unfortunately, however, there are reports that companies with affiliate programs have switched to this affordable system way too soon.

The problem is that Google Checkout requires serious tweaking before affiliate codes are passed along and properly recorded. And when I say “serious tweaking” I mean that even Commission Junction (CJ) has been reported to having some difficulty with the switchover; I smell some unfriendly programming! As a result, if companies with affiliate programs switch to Google Checkout too soon they may be alienating their bread and butter – affiliate sales. Read more…

GigaOmniMedia Inc. has launched a new website called NewTeeVee.com that is designed to cover the massive growth of the online video industry.

Liz Gannes, the editor of NewTeeVee.com introduces the site in her first post with the following paragraph: “We aim to cover online video from end to end and front to back. We’ll point you to hot startups, hot videos, hot pipes — tracing the talent, money, code, and data across the network. We’ll combine the signature GigaOM skepticism with a healthy sense of wonder for all the cool stuff that’s going on out there. And lots and lots of pictures and video.”

GigaOM.com is named after Om Malik; a highly respected technology writer who has written for the likes of Red Herring and Business 2.0 among others. His GigaOM network has a host of quality information resources that I refer to regularly for intelligent insight into emerging and existing technologies. If NewTeeVee.com maintains the quality of content I have come to expect from other Om Malik sites then I expect it will be well worth the read for anyone interested in keeping tabs on the emerging video sector. In addition, if you have any invested interest in online video perhaps it would be worthwhile to look into advertising; after all it is a new website so perhaps the price will be right!

by Ross Dunn, CEO, StepForth Search Engine Placement Inc.
Tune in to the StepForth SEO Blog for regular news.

Here is a great peek at what the world appears to be searching for: Yahoo!’s top searches of 2006.

My favorite listing happens to be the “Top News” where the average searcher’s priorities are inexplicably out of order. For example, the search “North Korea nuke” is the 7th most popular search and “Anna Nicole’s son dies” merits a second ranking; what a warped world we live in!

Webmaster RadioJim Hedger, our favourite SEO columnist and the first-ever employee of StepForth is having me on his talk radio show this Thursday at 2:00 Pacific at www.webmasterradio.fm. I hope you will listen in as Jim and I discuss the latest SEO news and our experiences in this rapidly growing industry. Until then!

QUESTION: I have just started my own design company and although very well trained in both designing and programming, earning two associate degrees in this field, not one professor ever said anything about making your websites search engine friendly. I recently designed a website for my sister and i cannot even get her site to show up in any search engine. I have several keywords at the top including a description as well. one problem may be that the index page is sort of a splash page except it is just a handler that detects whether or not the user has flash installed and whether or not they have the bandwidth to view the flash page accurately. it then redirects them to a new page based on the feedback. therefore, there is no real content on the index page. Another possible problem is that she is mentioned on hundreds of other websites. do you have any suggestions for me? Any advice would help. — Laura P. Read more…

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Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

How to Optimize a Webpage in Ten Minutes

Image of Ross Dunn along with the text "The Ten Minute Optimization Redux"In April 2003 I wrote an article called “The 10 Minute Optimization” which outlined a 10 minute process to optimize a web page for top search engine rankings. Well, a few things have changed since then so I thought a redux (revision) would be a good idea. How I am going to do this though, is a bit unorthodox. This document is largely still pertinent so instead of rewriting the same SEO tips I reproduced the article (the boxed content) and added a revision section below each point wherever necessary; ultimately bringing this up to date with today’s SEO tactics. Read more…

QUESTION: We’re a very small company with an 11 year website history, with web development resources somewhere between quite miniscule and non-existent. Nonetheless, SEO has been a keen focus of awareness since before it was called that, and up until that infamous “Florida” event 3 or so years ago, we did very well in the SERPs. Over the years a number of people have worked on the code comprising our site, and while there is nothing egregiously, obviously wrong with our content, no one knows if now we’re being penalized for something ‘lurking’ in our code that may be left over from yesteryear and never found and rooted out. The biggest worry and source of disagreement seems to involve “duplicate content”. Read more…

John Battelle wrote an excellent article describing his experience with Google Checkout. I highly recommend the read if you are considering using Google Checkout for shopping this holiday season or as a merchant. Here is a snippet:

It seems Google is obviating the merchant entirely vis the ongoing data relationship with the buyer. The registration screen states: “‘Google’ will appear by the charge on your credit card statement. Your card number will not be shared with the seller.”

Why on earth would anyone want this to be the case? To lose your relationship with the buyer? What information *is* passed back to ToysRUs? What rights do I have to that information, and to know how it’s used between Google and the merchant?

Check out John’s post for the full article.