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Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

WordTracker Promotion Extended

StepForth is happy to announce that we have all been afforded an extension until November 30th on the great 15% discount for annual subscriptions to WordTracker. If you have not already signed up then follow the directions below:

Visit this link and enter the discount
coupon code us-annual-15 to get 15% off

What is WordTracker?

WordTracker is a phenomenal keyword research tool that allows subscribers to find out which keywords drive the most interest online. With this information in tow subscribers can change their SEO and pay-per-click keyword targets to make more money.

This is an important bulletin for anyone who is currently subscribed to StepForth’s Weekly SEO Newsletter.

This week we need a moment of your time to confirm that you still wish to continue receiving StepForth’s weekly SEO newsletter. In addition, starting next week, we will be using a new premium mailing service to send out our newsletters. The service is called Constant Contact and it will allow us to provide the highest quality opt-in and opt-out email services that will ultimately protect your privacy at a whole new level.

If you wish to continue receiving the weekly SEO newsletter please resubscribe here; it is a simple two step process.

Until you resubscribe you will no longer receive our newsletter.

Thank you for your time and we hope you decide to continue to receive our weekly SEO newsletter.


Ross Dunn
CEO / Founder
StepForth Web Marketing Inc.

Note: This notification was sent via email to subscribers but due to the importance of this bulletin it has been posted here in case subscribers happen to miss the email.

Wordtracker is a fantastic tool for researching keywords to prepare for an optimization campaign OR to compile an unbeatable list of top searched phrases for your pay-per-click campaign.

To that end, we would like to offer you a fantastic deal: 15% off a subscription to Wordtracker. The offer allows a 15% discount on one month or even one year and it includes a 30 day money back guarantee.

Just click on the link and insert the appropriate code below to get this special discount:

  • Monthly discount: us-affiliate-monthly-2007 (link)
  • Annual discount: us-affiliate-annual-2007 (link)

The offer expires October 31st, 2007. Enjoy your membership and thank you for reading the StepForth SEO Blog.

Friday, August 31st, 2007

Jim Hedger Leaves SiteProNews

At the SiteProNews blog today Jim Hedger announced that his contract as the daily editor for SiteProNews was not renewed for another year.

The whole staff at StepForth wishes our friend and former in-house writer all the best as he refocuses his attentions on other partnerships and his company Markland Media based in Victoria, BC, Canada.

(Photo from SEO Atlanta’s Flickr library)
Friday, August 17th, 2007

I Hope to See You in San Jose

Next week I will be attending the Search Engine Strategies Conference in San Jose. I will be covering the event as Press so you can expect some interesting updates over the course of the week – but I can’t promise when.

If you happen to be in San Jose and want to hook up please email me – rossco at stepforth dotcom and hopefully we can arrange a time to meet.

For all those marketers out there: my writing focus for this trip is on the vendors that compliment my company’s SEO/SEM clients and in turn my readers. Pitching other SEO/SEM companies is not in the cards.

All the best,
Ross Dunn

The Direct Marketing AssociationStepForth is proud to announce that after careful review The Direct Marketing Association, a recognized and respected resource for marketers, has accepted StepForth’s white paper titled “Do it Yourself Social Media Marketing” into its approved marketing knowledge base.

The “Do it Yourself Social Media Marketing” white paper was written to educate business owners on the essentials methods required to harness the immense power of social media marketing. Read more…

Friday, July 6th, 2007

How Much is Your Blog Worth?

Well I have no idea how this algorithm based on Technorati’s API is but according to this nifty widget created by Dane Carlson, StepForth’s SEO Blog is currently worth $83,551 buckaroos. Hmm, now if we could just get that kind of money from our blog :-)

My blog is worth $83,551.92.
How much is your blog worth?

A June 28th article by Forbes magazine called “The Saboteurs of Search” discusses “negative SEO” which is best described as purposely disrupting competitor rankings. The article has caused waves in the SEO industry as marketers debate the effectiveness of the noted tactics.

From my point of view and experience these tactics are employed and I know there is a serious market for negative SEO because I have personally been asked to offer the service many times in the past. StepForth, however, does not offer negative SEO services with the exception of Google Insulation noted below; which we have previously use to help clients defend themselves against negative publicity appearing in rankings.

What are the Tactics of Negative SEO?
There were several tactics mentioned: Google Bowling, Tattling, Google Insulation, Copyright Takedown Notices, Copied Content, Denial of Service, and Click Fraud.

  • Google Bowling: XYZ is dropped off the search engines because their competitor framed them for breaking Google’s guidelines in an extreme manner. An example would be to create, overnight, a 1000% more links for a competitor (than they already have). The key would be to produce so many links at once that Google’s spam trigger would have no choice but to catch it. There are various ways to increase the chances of this happening but I would rather not describe them – after all this is not a tutorial.
  • Tattling: Is XYZ (the competitor) doing well because they purchased links? If so, and it is something you can prove, then it is entirely within your right to tell Google using their spam report form.But will this work? It is touch and go whether your complaint will actually do anything in the short term because Google often collects these complaints and then upgrades its algorithm (if possible) to clean out other offenders using the same techniques; a more efficient process. That said, as Matt Cutts said in this video about link buying Google is not above occasionally using manual methods to clean out spam so you might get lucky and see an immediate result.
  • Google Insulation: Is there negative press in the top 10 about your service? Perhaps you have a competitor that just won’t budge out of a top position? In either case a Google Insulation strategy is designed to raise the rankings of other websites that positively discuss your company/services/products in order to oust competitors out of the top 10 rankings. In its raw concept I believe this tactic is ethical because it is smart competitive marketing and a great tactic for reputation management (a hot topic these days).
  • Copyright Takedown Notices: If a person desperately needed to drop a competitor out of a top position it could engage in a legal action that requires Google to drop the ranking for a period of time based on copyright infringement. The problem here, of course, is that this tactic exposes the perpetrator so that they can be sued by the offended company if the accusation is baseless. Here is where you can submit a copyright infringement notice to Google.
  • Copied Content: Due to the fallible nature of Google’s algorithm it is possible to ‘steal’ away the traffic to a competitor’s particular content (say an article just published) by publishing it on your own site IF your site is more entrenched than the competitor’s.You see if Google is presented with two websites which have the same content it will be forced to choose which site is the original creator. The website with the longer history and/or the highest reputation will often win out and the loser will often find their content ranks lower (if at all).
  • Denial of Service: This is the most evil and clearly illegal tactic for removing a competitor. Denial of service attacks (DoS) are conducted by sending a large number requests to a competitor’s web server at one time. The result is the competitor’s server will either be too jammed with requests to function properly or it will simply crash from the burden of so many requests – effectively taking the competitor’s website offline. Evil indeed.
  • Click Fraud: Click fraud is no different than stealing money from a competitor. This is how it works: people maliciously click on ads to purposely eat away at a competitor’s ad budget; even on a small scale this can be damaging to a competitor. The most aggressive click fraud is when a network of computers with specially created software is used to maliciously click on a competitor’s pay per click advertisements in order to waste their money and destroy their advertising campaign.

Should You Be Worried this is Happening to You?
It is highly unlikely that the negative SEO techniques above have been or ever will be used against you. If, however, it does appear to be happening to you then contact us or another reputable web marketing company. At StepForth we will see what we can do about reversing the effects by contacting the proper people or conducting a negating clean-up campaign.

Additional Notes on Click Fraud
The one issue that you could very likely suffer from is click fraud but not in the way you might imagine. You see click fraud appears to happen indiscriminately so just about anyone can have it happen to them; in my experience it is not often a targeted action. As a result, you should be keeping an eye out for it you are actively using pay per click marketing.

So how can you detect click fraud? The best way for me to answer this is to tell you what we use to monitor campaigns and detect click fraud: ClickTracks Professional. ClickTracks Professional is a website analytics program that (among other amazing things) compares the data it collects from visitors on your website with the data you get from your pay per click campaign and does a pretty good job of identifying suspicious click-through behavior.

If ClickTracks Professional determines there is a high probability of click fraud in your campaign you will be presented with a detailed report you can take to your agent at the search engine you are marketing with. If your search engine agent determines there is validity to the evidence it is likely you will get a refund or credit to your account.

Now for a little plug, I liked ClickTracks Professional so much that in 2003 StepForth purchased our own copy and we offer website accounts for as little as $150 per month which is 50% cheaper than the service that provides. If you are interested just check out where we provide more detail and a service comparison chart.

NOTE: I had to think long and hard before publishing this post because I find many of the methods of damaging a competitor’s rankings horrifically unethical. That said, I believe that understanding these tactics is important in order to identify their use if they are applied against you.

by Ross Dunn, CEO, StepForth Placement Inc.
Celebrating 10 Years of Web Marketing Excellence
Akamai, which claims to route 20% of the Internet’s traffic through its platform, has used this data to create a very interesting real-time view of Internet usage for news, retail, and music. What I found most intriguing was another report that shows real-time Internet usage data; just drag a viewing box over specific sections of the world to see where the most Internet usage is occurring. It is interesting how these statistics mirror the regional traffic statistics for many of StepForth’s clientele. Read more…

Blogs 101 is a resource to provide our clients and readers with a clear concept of what a blog is, why a blog might be a positive addition to their website or marketing campaign, and how to implement, optimize and promote a blog. In Part 1 of this series I discussed the basics of a blog and some of the necessary steps to take before starting one. In Part 2, I explained blog feeds and how to optimize a blog. Now in Part 3, I will explain social media marketing and outline a selection of strategies for socially marketing your blog. Read more…