This is the second in a series of articles intended to convey my personal impressions of managing PPC through Google Adwords, Yahoo Panama and MSN Adcenter.

If you missed part one, you can view it here. Today I will be covering Yahoo’s Panama. Of the three, this is my least favoured, so I’m wearing my Yahoo Search Marketing ball cap today, to remind myself not to allow too much vitriol to slip into the article. Read more…

In today’s online world search engine rankings can make your business succeed, and while rankings in Yahoo and MSN are very valuable, their combined market value is still less than that of Google. This makes achieving top rankings in Google that much more important.

In this three-part series on How to Optimize for Google we will touch on a number of important aspects for top Google rankings including website optimization, links, Google Webmaster tools, and a number of other considerations.

The focus of Part 1 will be with on page website optimization. If you have already read this, check out Part 2 and Part 3 of How to Optimize for Google Read more…

Today I was kindly offered the opportunity to participate in Webcology on WebmasterRadio.fm with Jim Hedger and Dave Davies. The discussion we had was all about what it takes to keep rankings high in search engine results after successfully attaining them. Here is a link to the episode on the Webcology page where our show will be archived and to Jim’s article on Keeping it Up and here are a few tips from me on the essentials of maintaining rankings:

  1. Keep adding content to your website in the form of a blog or informational pages and where appropriate provide relevant textual links to the pages you want to maintain rankings. Check out our comprehensive tutorial on how to create, market and manage your own blog.
  2. If you write articles for your blog(s) try submitting them to article sites like ezinearticles.com. If your article includes links to your website these external sites will provide link juice to your content and help you maintain visibility.
  3. PRWeb is a great tool for telling the world about your company’s accomplishments; see this video interview on link building and publicity with PR Web. By submitting a carefully written press release to PRWeb you can (depending on the service you choose) attain a large number of incoming links. These links will not necessarily provide long term impact because they tend to devalue after a week or two but inevitably you will get additional long-term links out of the process. By the way, if you don’t know of a topic to create a blog about consider creating one that just offers company news releases – there is nothing wrong with that.
  4. Submit your blog’s RSS feed to the multitude of RSS aggregation sites (news sites) online. These sites will help pump up the visibility of the content you write. This is particularly important if you rarely have time to write new content for your blog because it will give you the most bang for your effort.
  5. Keep in tune with the changes at search engines by monitoring sites like Search Engine Guide, Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land, and of course StepForth’s SEO News Blog. If you hear of a pending or current algorithmic update on a key search engine find out all you can about it and prepare your website to bear the change – if necessary. If you find you aren’t sure what to do in response to an algorithmic update just contact a reputable SEO and get their opinion. You can find reputable SEOs in many places but to be sure you know who you are asking do a little digging to find out just how long they have been practicing SEO.

These are just a few tips but they cover the main points that everyone should know about maintaining rankings. If you have any SEO questions just use our Free SEO Questions submission form.

Ross Dunn, CEO, StepForth Web Marketing Inc.
Celebrating Over 10 Years of Web Marketing Excellence

I am in disbelief. Less than 40 minutes ago the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog announced that Google can now fill out web forms and spider the resulting content. Previously this was not only not done by search engines but it was well known that such content would be useless since it wouldn’t ‘necessarily’ be formatted for the eyes of searchers. Apparently Google is now throwing this concept to the wind. Read more…

In this article two important marketing strategies are reviewed: search engine optimization and social media.

Just as the spokes of a wheel are held together and strengthened by its hub so too is the planning for a successful marketing campaign. The greater the integrity and quality of the hub, the better are the chances that the spokes will stay true and provide far reaching performance.

In this series we have looked at several ‘spokes’ that contribute to a winning web marketing strategy. Part 1 looked at several of these building blocks: marketing budget and timelines, market research, and competitor analysis while Part 2 discussed the importance of keyword research, focus on achievable phrases, creating relevant textual content and search friendly website design. A future article will deal with the remaining spokes: link building, blogs, newsletters, and website analytics. Read more…

Yesterday I had the good fortune to be invited to speak on the Webcology Webmasterradio.FM radio show with Jim Hedger and Dave Davies about my experience with competitor analysis. The show was a part of a 10 part SEO series where experts in their select field of SEO are invited to discuss their artform. In my case I discussed some of the most interesting tactics involved in competitor analysis and some of the other tactics I didn’t have space to cover in the companion article on competitor analysis in the WebProNews Expert’s column.

Click here to listen to the radio show
(my interview starts about 15 minutes into the program)

Near the end of the interview, as a final touch, I asked a website analytics analyst by the name of Andres Galdames to come onto the show to discuss the other side of improving website visibility; using website analytics to improve performance of your site instead of focusing on a competitor. In addition, Andres and I touched on how analytics plays a major role in tracking the success of web promotion strategies implemented on a website as a result of a competitor analysis. We had more to discuss at this point but unfortunately Andres lost his connection to the radio show and Jim and Dave wrapped up the show.

All-in-all it was an exciting experience and I look forward to being invited again onto Webcology. A big thanks goes out to Jim Hedger and Dave Davies for the opportunity to discuss competitor analysis – a field I am so passionate about.

by Ross Dunn, CEO, StepForth Web Marketing Inc.

The following was the second interview I did with Dr. Ralph Wilson of Web Marketing Today while I was at PubCon Las Vegas. In this interview we discussed the horror stories I have seen over my 10 years of SEO. The focus was on how important it is to involve an SEO in the initial planning of a new website because you never know if you are going to use a technology that may hamper or completely block search engines. A SEO consultant doesn’t need much time to tell you if you are on the right track and it will save you a lot of headache down the line.

Without further adieu, here is my interview:

by Ross Dunn, CEO, StepForth Web Marketing Inc.

The following were questions sent to us by readers of the StepForth SEO Newsletter and the StepForth SEO Blog. If you have a question of your own we would love to hear from you; email us your SEO question.

Question from Steve:
Information about the why’s & how-to’s of the BLOGosphere have made for a plethora of copy all over the SEO world, yet my constantly recurring question never seems to come up! And this first question always leads me to second one. (1) If your business is NOT in any way concerned with… let’s call it “journalism” (it seems that the business of StepForth would have a sizable reliance on journalistic talent), how would a company go about deploying a blog initiative and still have time to sleep more than one or two nights a week? (…there’s this business we gotta keep running!) And (2) if one were to hire one of many firms offering such a BLOG service, how would it come off as more than a thinly veiled SERP ranking initiative, when your business is not of the type where there is really any “news” to report — AND further, where the BLOG service cannot possibly be expected to have the specific knowledge needed to write usefully pertinent journalistic copy? Read more…

These days, as more and more companies come to the conclusion that their 1990′s built websites with the animated gifs, static backgrounds, and auto-playing midi files have seen their prime, they begin to enter into a world of redesign. While creating these new websites with the sleeker look, and cleaner file structure is a smart move for the future, the risk and complications caused by changing URL’s and the impact this has on search engine rankings is very real.

This is where redirects come in. Using the correct redirect, in most cases a permanent 301, is key to helping maintain your existing rankings, whether your site is undergoing a complete face lift, or if you simply want to move a few pages around.

While Permanent 301 Redirects are the most common there are valid situations where either 301′s or 302′s may be the most appropriate. This article will discuss what these redirects do, common and less common uses, implementation, and how to check that you have set them up correctly Read more…

Google Webmaster Central Blog logoSusan Moskwa and Trever Voucher from Google’s Webmaster Tools Team published a synopsis of the questions they received at Chicago’s recent Search Engine Strategies Conference. If you have ever had a question about Google Sitemaps and the effect they may or may not have on your site, this is a helpful read.

Get the answers to the following questions:

  • I submitted a Sitemap, but my URLs haven’t been [crawled/indexed] yet. Isn’t that what a Sitemap is for?
  • If it doesn’t get me automatically crawled and indexed, what does a Sitemap do?
  • Will a Sitemap help me rank better?
  • If I set all of my pages to have priority 1.0, will that make them rank higher (or get crawled faster) than someone else’s pages that have priority 0.8?
  • Is there any point in submitting a Sitemap if all the metadata (, , etc.) is the same for each URL, or if I’m not sure it’s accurate?
  • I’ve heard about people who submitted a Sitemap and got penalized shortly afterward. Can a Sitemap hurt you?
  • Where can I put my Sitemap? Does it have to be at the root of my site?
  • Can I just submit the site map that my webmaster made of my site? I don’t get this whole XML thing.
  • Which Sitemap format is the best?
  • If I have multiple URLs that point to the same content, can I use my Sitemap to indicate my preferred URL for that content?
  • Does the placement of a URL within a Sitemap file matter? Will the URLs at the beginning of the file get better treatment than the URLs near the end?
  • If my site has multiple sections (e.g. a blog, a forum, and a photo gallery), should I submit one Sitemap for the site, or multiple Sitemaps (one for each section)?

Again here is the link to the Google sitemaps Q&A.

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