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Today the official Blog announced details of its local-focused mobile services called Ask Mobile GPS. When I read the offering provided by this 1st generation of local (GPS-driven) mobile service currently only available on specific Sprint phones, I was blown away. The Ask blog posting explains these details more thoroughly but here is a point-by-point rundown of the new offering:

  • Share My Location: opt to let specific friends know where you are at any given moment… creepy but cool. If a friend wants to meet with you their Sprint phone will provide step by step directions to get to your location.
  • Directions: navigate to any available location using audible driving (or walking) directions provided in real-time by the GPS enabled phone.
  • CitySearch: search for specific stores or facilities in your current area. The CitySearch will provide recommendations within a predescribed distance of your location.
  • EVites: receive and send invites to friends for parties or simply a coffee meeting. You can create, view, cancel or accept EVites easily from your phone. In each case the EVites can provide directions to the event location.
  • Favorite Places: save shortcuts to your favorite locations for easy access to directions wherever you are.

Being the first to launch this powerful mobile service has really put itself ahead of the pack. “At the end of the day, everyone needs to go mobile. But being early in the game can help lock people in for the long term,” Ask’s CEO, Jim Lanzone aptly stated in an interview with Reuters.

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

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…

Jim Lanzone -’s CEO, Jim Lanzone responded to my recent article “Yahoo Reinvents An Old Wheel: Paid Inclusion Gets a Facelift” reconfirming his belief that paid inclusion is hypocritical. The following is Jim Lanzone’s comment to me which was confirmed authentic by Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Land:

Hi Ross. Just came across this today on Bloglines.

Three years later, I’m still against paid inclusion, because I still think it is hypocritical to charge for something we need to do anyway to be the best search service we can be. I also think it’s a dis-service to our users to blur the line that much between paid content and editorial content. Read more…

Thursday, January 4th, 2007

StepForth’s Predictions for 2007

Another New Years has come and gone and over the past few weeks search industry professionals have been releasing their search market predictions for 2007. I have steered clear of reading them because it is time for me to write down StepForth’s predictions and the last thing I want to worry about is duplication. Without further adieu, here are the predictions my staff and I put together for 2007. Read more…

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

Ask Goes Local

On Monday Ask launched a local search service that strongly competes with other existing services offered by the big 3.

AskCity allows users to search for businesses, events, movies, and maps with directions. This service has integrated a number of those owned by parent company IAC/InterActiveCorp including CitySearch, ReserveAmerica, ServiceMagic, Ticketmaster and TicketWeb. Ask has also incorporated services from IAC partners.

Many of the new services from AskCity are also similiar to those offered by Google, MSN and Yahoo; however, the big three have to sign partnerships with other companies in order to provide these services.

In the big scheme of things local search is still in its infant stages, but as the internet continues to grow and evolve the world of local search will continue to grow as more and more people allow the internet into their lives.

Have you noticed how infrequently and deeply Ask appears to be indexing websites? I reviewed a number of my client’s websites and discovered that of the big 4 robots (Google, Yahoo, MSN and ASK) Ask is dramatically falling behind. Where the other search engines are indexing daily or at least every couple of days Ask has, in some cases, not indexed at all! Read more…

One of the most frequently asked questions readers and clients email StepForth Placement’s SEO staff, revolves around how websites can be best optimized to meet the algorithmic needs of each of the major 4 search engines, Google, Yahoo, MSN and Ask.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Though there have been wide sweeping changes in the organic search engine landscape over the past six months, the fundamental ways search engines operate remains the same. Read more…

Links are the primary arteries of the Internet, the underlying connectors between different places. Links are the transporters that take you everywhere on the web. You likely came to this space via a link and are as likely to follow one out again. Links keep you going online, hopefully to places you want or need to get to.

Google created the most successful information retrieval device of all time based on sending spiders to follow each and every link they can find on each and every web document they come across. Yahoo, MSN, Ask, and all the other search databases have acquired the vast amounts of information they contain in similar fashion. Links play important roles in the ranking formulas of all search engines, especially Google, by providing numerous pieces of data for their algorithms to chew through. Read more…

Thursday, May 25th, 2006

Congratulations Barry and Yisha

Noted search journalist Barry Schwartz (aka: rustybrick) is getting married on Sunday to his financee of eight months, Yisha Tversky.

Barry issued the first known marriage proposal via search engine when the folks at Ask Jeeves (now helped him pop the question by placing his proposal page at the top of search results for a keyword phrase he knew Yisha would be searching for (her name).

Yisha, who is about to marry one of the nicest guys in the industry, immediately said yes and hopeless romantics through-out the industry (like us here at StepForth) smiled and wiped stray tears from our eyes when Barry shared the news.

Due to Barry’s notoriety, the search industry paparazzi are rumored to be planning a stakeout of the wedding. Watch for photos to be published on Flickr sometime next week, or perhaps on the site, Yisha &

Congratulations Barry and Yisha. Best wishes from your friends (and readers) at StepForth Placement.