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Today at the Search Engine Marketing New England conference Google employee Dan Crow confirmed his crawl systems team is working on a new tag that will allow webmasters to remove a page from Google’s search results at a predetermined time.

The tag will appear as Unavailable_after and is a perfect addition for those who wish to expire web pages that may have time-limited sales or pages that have content that is free for a limited time.

Thanks to Jill Whalen for posting this valuable SEO news from the event.

We will let you all know when this new tag becomes available for use.

FeedBurner’s previously for-fee services are now free after its relatively recent acquisition by Google. This is great news for the blogging community which is probably why it is getting some serious publicity (#1 story on TechMeme).

So what is all this bruhaha all about? Two features, Total Stats PRO and MyBrand PRO have been opened up to the masses:

Total Stats PRO: this service used to cost about $5 per blog per month and provided stats on the posts that got the most interest along with information on uncommon uses, which feed readers are being used and live user reporting. The information is fairly valuable for people with heavily used blogs because, among other things it can provide insight into which blog postings appear to be getting the most interest; which might just spark you to write a follow up.

MyBrand PRO: FeedBurner feeds are normally located on For example, our feed is at With MyBrand Pro, however, you can configure the FeedBurner to use your own domain. Why is this useful? Some companies do not like the idea that their feed address is located on a domain they do not own. FeedBurner aptly calls it “the ultimate in feed-serving transparency.”

FeedBurner Rocks
If you haven’t made the move to use FeedBurner for your blog then maybe these new features will be enough to entice you. Even before these features were free I felt FeedBurner was a fantastic service because it made subscribing to StepForth’s SEO Blog simple for any online news reader. In addition, I like that FeedBurner automatically pings the major news websites for us whenever we post something new – one great way to promote our blog without much effort.

Friday, June 22nd, 2007

Microsoft’s New R&D Center

The big search engines are spending money like crazy these days. From the many new multi-billion dollar acquisitions taking place over the past several months, to the second $600 Million data centers under construction by Google.

Microsoft is also expanding further with a 6000 employee research and development center currently under way in Shanghai according to Forbes. Read more…

The spring of 2009 will see the grand opening of a new $600 million data center for Google in Council Bluffs Iowa. News was announced yesterday by Gov. Chet Culver and Google in Council Bluffs.

This announcement comes just 6 weeks after an announcement for a $600 million data center in Pryor Creek OK, expected to open a year sooner in Spring of 2008.

Three parcels of land totaling 1185 acres will be used to house the massive project including two facilities, and once completed it is estimated that Google will employ 200 workers at the new location.

With all these new expansions one must wonder, is Google simply beefing up its current infrastructure, or are there plans for something bigger in the future? Only time will tell.

Today Google announced that YouTube is being launched in 9 new countries in their own native languages. The countries are the UK, France, Italy, Japan, Poland, Ireland, Netherlands, and Brazil.

At the moment the roll out will provide each site with localized (country-specific) content such as featured videos, director videos, and promotions. Over time each site will feature more and more localized content as each site draws in more active participants.

This update is seen as both a necessary move from a growth perspective (why not expand into different languages?!) as well as a competitive one; some countries have their own rival brand of localized video sharing sites that, over time, could jeopardize YouTube’s entry potential if it doesn’t get its foot in the door immediately.

Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

Yahoo's Quality Based Pricing

The new quality based pricing system being rolled out by Yahoo will allow advertisers to enjoy reduced click charges based on ad relevance and quality.

Yahoo announced in a mass mail out yesterday the launch of Quality Based Pricing. Discounts will be automatically applied to an advertisers account based on conversion rates and other measures. The roll out of the system has already begun as of yesterday.

There is nothing you need to do to receive this discount, simply continue creating quality relevant ads for your campaign, and assuming the quality is high enough you will start to see some reduced costs.

For more information visit the Yahoo Search Marketing Help page for Quality Based Pricing.

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

Panama Launches in Europe

The US and Canada have had access to the new Panama platform for some time and now advertisers in Europe are able to use the new version, just launched this week.

There have been many comments on the new system on both the positive and negative side of things, but hopefully most of the initial issues that plagued US users have been corrected in time for this launch.

When it first launched in North America, Panama caused chaos for some advertisers when the transition saw ad campaigns completely shuffled about. Some key phrases were lost, where others were moved into different groups and some groups disappeared entirely. While not everyone had issues with the account switch, there was plenty to be said in the forums regarding the changeover. (see “Yahoo Panama Pros and Cons, and Part 2“)

Hopefully Europe will see a smoother transition into the new system with the correction of some of the known bugs. Currently, Google has approximately 70-80% market share for search in Europe.

Reputable sources say Microsoft has reopened negotiations with Yahoo to purchase the company or work with it in some way. Last year the same talks were going on but Yahoo’s Terry Semel said his “impartial advice to Microsoft is that you have no chance,” Mr Semel said. “The search business has been formed.” The talks ceased and I was not expecting them to restart so soon.

The Wall Street Journal estimates Yahoo’s value at 50 billion… is Microsoft really that eager? Apparently they just might be and it is likely a direct cause of their thwarted attempt to secure DoubleClick before Google did. Tired of being a follower I expect Microsoft will be making some very tempting offers to Semel this time around.

Okay, now it is time for what is likely to get a few people charged up. “YES PLEASE” is my way of saying that I hope the merger goes ahead because it will provide some shake up in the search engines – something I feel is much needed. It also helps that I have very little reason to believe Microsoft will add value to Yahoo which will hopefully will create a void for a newcomer.

What is your thought on this? Would you be all for a merger or against?

Thursday, May 3rd, 2007

MSN Launches Desktop Search

It is interesting that a few years after Google released Google Desktop, Microsoft has come forward to release their own version of Desktop search.

As part of the MSN Search Toolbar Suite introduced earlier this year, the final version of MSN Desktop was released just this past Monday.

Yahoo and AOL also have their versions of Desktop search in the works; interesting considering an effective desktop search feature should be something that is automatically integrated into an operating system. The new Windows Vista already has Windows Desktop Search integrated out of the box, but for those looking to try it on your pre-Vista version of Windows you can find the download, along with more details on Microsoft’s site.

Amazon’s bullying tactics make my blood pressure rise. Alexa (owned by Amazon) has chosen to file a lawsuit against for “stealing Alexa’s proprietary data by disregarding the rules for Alexa’s Web Services–through which Alexa makes certain proprietary data available in exchange for a fee–and instead simply taking the data and graphs he wants without permission.” (source: PDF legal filings) Read more…