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Monday, July 14th, 2008

Goodbye Windows Live Expo

I am not sure where I have been for the past two years, but today is the first time I have heard about Windows Live Expo – today is also the day I heard about its scheduled demise.

Apparently this classified ad platform was considered to be a major threat for Craigslist, and this month, on July 31, Microsoft will pull the plug and the classified service launched back in February of 2006.

Considering I work online and spend at least 8 hours a day sitting in front of my computer, for me to have never heard of Windows Live Expo, is probably a good indicator of why it was ultimately a failure – quite simply, Microsoft just didn’t do a very good job getting the word out.

In today’s race to the top of the Google SERP’s (Search Engine Result Pages), there are a number of factors that can help you achieve those coveted spots. While certain techniques may weigh better than others based on your industry and level of competition, there is no questioning the power of links.

There are several methods, some common and some yet to be discovered, you can try out to help boost your link density and search rankings. While it would be near impossible to go into great detail on all methods (that would require a book) below I have outlined some of the more common techniques a web site owner can use to increase their site’s popularity. Read more…

Happy Canada & U.S. Independence Day to our Friends and Clients both North and South of the border.

In order to best serve our current and future clients StepForth will remain open through the two statutory holidays next week.

On Canada Day (Tuesday, July 1st), our office will be open during regular business hours, 9:00-5:00 PST with a limited staff, and being the Canadians that we are, since we do not celebrate Independence Day up here, we will operate during normal business hours, with our regular staff complement for the Fourth of July.

We wish everyone a fun and safe time with their celebrations and respective days off.

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Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

Google up in US Search Share

The latest numbers are in, and Google continues to dominate search – we already knew that, but by how much?

The latest figures from HitWise released this morning show Google up a little over 3% compared to May of 2007. Google was accountable for approximately 68.29% of searches performed in the US in May of 2008. Yahoo and MSN fell to 19.95% and 5.89% respectively.

Yahoo’s figures for May 2008 are down marginally by about 1% and MSN down nearly 2% compared to the same period a year ago. HitWise figures are based on a sampling of 10 million U.S. Internet Users.

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Thursday, June 5th, 2008

Windows Vista Lives

Very recently my old laptop started giving me a world of problems ranging from minor software to rather serious hardware issues. For a three year old laptop it just didn’t make sense to fix it, so I decided to take the leap and buy a replacement.

I originally had hoped on finding something with Windows XP, and the only new machine I could find with XP was through Dell – my now dead laptop was a Dell, so I decided to pass and jumped over to a Toshiba running Vista.

Surprisingly thus far I like Vista, and it has only given me a few correctable & minor inconveniences. Of course, only after purchasing the new machine did I read that Microsoft has again opened the doors to selling Windows XP, and it will be made available on “Ultra Low Cost” Notebooks and PC’s. Read more…

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Thursday, June 5th, 2008

Yahoo and Walmart Strike a Deal

Yahoo signed a multi-year deal with Walmart to start displaying advertising on its company website a press release stated Wednesday. The deal will enable Walmart.com to utilize Yahoo’s ad platform for presenting new offers to their customers.

“This announcement builds on our strategy to be the partner of choice for leading brands looking to engage more customers with compelling offers online,” said Todd Teresi, senior vice president of the Yahoo! Publisher Network. “By combining Walmart.com’s leading position as a multi-channel retailer with our industry-leading display advertising sales and ad management technology and sales force, we will be able to provide advertisers with the easiest, most effective way to deliver targeted, relevant marketing messages to Walmart.com shoppers.”

Marketers are expected to be able to start taking advantage of this partnership sometime near the end of this month.

As Google Earth advances, they have offered 3D views of several major cities and attractions world wide, but with the help of Disney providing intricate models, a 3D walk through has been created providing users with incredible detail in their virtual visit.

Information is made available on all of the parks 1500 attractions and contains videos and photos as well as booking details. Restaurant menus are also available for the many dining establishments at the theme park.

While currently the virtual tour only includes the outside of the parks buildings, a future update will allow visitors to see the inside of hotel rooms and enter the various attractions.

If you are interested in taking a break and viewing the 3D tour, ensure you have the latest version of Google earth and the “3D Buildings” layer is enabled, and perform a search for “Disney World”. Clicking on any one of the colored Mickey Mouse logos, will get you started.

A case was brought to French court surrounding the use of certain keywords through the use of Google AdWords.

Google AdWords offers advertisers a keyword tool which will often suggest variations of certain keywords to be added to a given campaign. Fashion retailer, Louis Vuitton is unhappy as AdWords has been noted to suggest terms such as “Louis Vuitton fakes” and “Louis Vuitton replicas”.

Because Google is essentially selling the advertising rights to these trademarks, Louis Vuitton alleges a trademark violation, and took the search giant to court – and won! Naturally Google has appealed and the case will now go to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

For a few years now Google has offered their AdWords advertisers an alternative to the online interface with AdWords Editor, a downloadable program offering additional functionality to make managing your campaigns just a little bit easier. Today at SMX Advanced, Kevin Johnson, Microsoft’s Platform & Services Division President, announced the launch of a similar such product for Microsoft adCenter, in Beta of course.

Microsoft’s vision is a fully functional desktop client version for adCenter, rather than just an editor. This means that tools such as those used for keyword research will be integrated into the software, a feature lacking by Google AdWords Editor.

This product launch will likely make many advertisers happy assuming it all goes smoothly. Our experience with adCenter is that of awkwardness as their interface is far from user friendly, taking several steps to complete a task done with only a single click over at Google.

Unlike many other beta launches that are accessible to only a select few deep pocket advertisers, adCenter Desktop beta is available to anyone with an account in good standing. If you meet the adCenter terms and conditions, you are eligible to apply. If interested in giving the beta a try, fill in their application form to be considered.

Google, Yahoo, and others are already there, and now Microsoft has decided to follow the leader with the launch of Mobile Display Ads.

On Tuesday Microsoft Announced it had opened the doors for advertisers to display banner ads directly to Windows Live Messenger and Hotmail mobile users.

Microsoft also rolled out its beta for keyword based advertising using Live Search Mobile, to be expanded in the second half of 2008. A select group of “invited advertisers can create keyword campaigns through Microsoft adCenter that target customers on the go. This will be the first time that Microsoft has enabled advertisers to monetize its popular mobile search service.”

Mobile advertising and search is still in its very early stages and, in keeping with tradition, Microsoft has followed behind Google and Yahoo. If they ever hope to boost their market share and better compete with the two leaders, Microsoft should really try launching initiatives like this first rather then constantly playing catch-up.

The service is currently available to advertisers in France, Spain, the UK, and the US. As keeping with the trend of new web developments, Canada is still left out in the cold.