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I hope all of you experienced an excellent weekend full of family, and friends, swirled in the aroma of oven-baked turkey! I had a wonderful holiday weekend with my fiancee, my family, and hers; I ate and drank far too much and I am certain I set my workout routine a few paces back :-)

In any case, I just wanted to wish you all a great short week full of profit and fun. Now it is time for me to get back to work and get our blog caught up with the times – among many other things.

All the best.

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Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

Happy Birthday Google!


Well you turned 8 years old today you playful little devil. You have been a temperamental child at times and lord knows you don’t follow orders very well but at least you get straight A’s for knowledge.

Cheers from the Staff at StepForth Search Engine Placement!

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Friday, September 1st, 2006

Adwords API Will Now Cost Money

Google has announced that it will be charging a pay per usage fee of $0.25 per thousand queries of its Adwords API.

To those business owners that didn’t have a clue what I just said here is the scoop. First of all, this really does not ‘directly’ have anything to do with you, but it may affect you indirectly. You see Google’s Adwords API allows advertising agencies with inhouse PPC management software to directly interface with Google’s Adwords system to conduct searches so that they can keep up to date on the status of their client’s campaigns. Up untill October 1st, 2006 it was completely free to use this interface but that has now changed since Google is now charging $0.25 per thousand uses. I know that doesn’t seem like much, but for agencies that have hundreds of clients this will add up to a great deal of money over time. And as we all know, the more money it costs a vendor, the more it will ultimately cost you, the consumer.

In short, I expect that ad agencies who specialize in Adwords promotions will be passing on some significant new costs to their clientele. Fortunately, StepForth is not in the position to be disturbed by this shakeup because we do not use such software. As a result, our clients will not experience any negative effects in their StepForth-managed ppc campaigns.

If you would like more information here is Google’s ratesheet.

It is our policy at StepForth to try and help out anyone who calls and is searching for a service that we either do not provide or we cannot offer at the level they are requesting. To this end I would like to put out a request for companies with proven multi-language content development services and foreign SEO experience.

The prospect that contacted us is looking for rankings within the major European markets as well as Japan. Native language content creation will be required for each country.

Reply by Creating a Comment for this Posting: If you represent a qualified company please create a comment for this posting: the prospect in question is going to be keeping tabs on this posting and will reply if there is interest. Please DO NOT contact StepForth directly.

Please provide at least:

  • Your company name,
  • Languages you can optimize for,
  • Your website address and a link to your proven results,
  • Finally please note your name and number so that the prospect can contact you directly.

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SEO RFP Request posted by StepForth Search Engine Placement Inc.

This is my last official post in the role of News Editor at StepForth Placement. As of the middle of the month, I will be a free agent. As of the end of this post, I am on vacation-time. Its a strange feeling.

It has been an incredible adventure and a true privilege working here for the past six years. In that time, the website optimization and search engine marketing sector has grown from a tiny cottage industry to become one of the most significant sectors operating on the Internet. Read more…

A few weeks ago, StepForth’s sales manager, Bill Stroll, took a well deserved holiday. That gave me the opportunity to sit in his chair for a few days, monitoring emails from clients and queries from potential clients. My primary focus was to answer client questions and respond to information requests that simply couldn’t wait until Bill was back at his desk.

Sitting in front of his computer gave me a chance to take another look a random sampling of websites interested in SEO. From time to time, I tabbed over to see some of the site-review questionnaire responses our system had recently handled.

Search engine optimization is obviously becoming more popular. We’re handling a lot more review requests. Many of the sites processed by our review system were already well-designed sites ready for optimization. Many others however, were simply not up to a standard of design or topical clarity in which our SEO services would help. It’s a hard thing to tell someone but someone has to do it, the website needs to be redesigned.

Online competition has increased dramatically year after year. Today there are more websites doing business in every commercial sector than there were yesterday. Though the search engines are better able to sort information and rank relevant sites against keyword queries, achieving search engine placements for smaller sites has gotten more difficult as the environment evolves.

Recent changes to the ranking algorithms at Google and Yahoo place increased importance on site user experience, making people-friendly web design an important component in SEO. Because the search engines want to gauge the usefulness of any given document or link, they track the movement of visitors from one web document to another. When larger numbers of visitors travel to a site and spend more time gathering information and following its links, the search engines tend to think favorably about that site. Similarly, when visitors click in and quickly click out, their leaving is noted and the action is somewhat scored against the site. It’s nothing personal, its just technology judging technology.

When a website is somehow unprepared to meet the standards we believe search spiders or human visitors are looking for, we call it not-ready-for-primetime. It’s a much gentler term to use than others we’ve tossed about. Not-ready-for-primetime sites come in all shapes, sizes and represent all sorts of businesses. The one thing they have in common is that, in their current condition, their chances of achieving strong search rankings are dim. They are often constructed as if they were afterthoughts, as brochures by people focused squarely on doing business in the real world.

When we come across sites that are not quite ready for primetime, we tend to recommend site redesign. The problem with recommending redesign as a pre-requisite of SEO work is that it needs to be factored into a preset marketing budget. Often, site owners are unable or unwilling to invest in site redesign and either go seeking help or affirmation from other search marketing shops, or give up altogether.

The easiest way to avoid presenting an unfriendly face to search engine spiders is to start from the basics and work your way up. Here are a few quick tips on spotting elements of your website that might not be as search engine friendly as they could or should be.

Every website, good or bad begins with a site structure. Some structures are better for search spiders than others. There are two areas to consider when thinking about site structure, regardless of the eventual size of the site. The first how the overall site file and directory tree will look. The second is how the first few levels of that tree will be laid out.

The overall site should be structured to allow for long-term growth. As more files or documents are added to the site, the designer will want to ensure that search spiders will find those files without too much trouble. That means limiting the number of directory levels as much as practically possible.

The first few levels of a site are extremely important for strong search rankings. Documents or files found on the first few pages of any site tend to contain the most unique, descriptive content. These documents are most likely to receive incoming links from other sites and are most likely to be entrance points to specific product or services offered on pages found deeper in the site. Establishing easily followed paths for search spiders and for live-visitors is important.

The next thing that makes a site not-ready-for-primetime is topical focus and clarity of message. In a competitive search engine environment, choosing a theme and sticking to it is generally good advice.

We often see sites that try to sell hundreds of unrelated consumer items or travel services. These types of sites pose two problems. First, there is no overall theme to think about when determining keywords to target. Secondly, much of the content on sites like this is lifted from other online sources, likely already existing in Google’s index.

If these sites were to segment their sites into niches or facets of the industries they are trying to represent and build a number of sites dedicated to those facets, chances are their sites would perform much better on the search engines.

Another series of elements that can make a site not-ready-for-primetime is found in previous attempts at search engine or network marketing. A reality of web-based business is that a little information can be extremely dangerous if applied incorrectly. We often come across sites that have joined web-rings or link-exchanges, or have remnants of spammy SEO techniques left over from a previous run-in with less ethical SEOs. We tend to see these sites just after they have been delisted or have seen their rankings degrade over time.

A site redesign is a serious commitment. Once it is undertaken, a whole range of planning, copywriting and meetings are in order. This process is often good for an online business as it forces the business to focus on how it conducts business online, and how to make that business better.

Perhaps the truest measure of the need to redesign a website comes not from the needs of website marketers but from the experience of the website owners themselves. Is the site producing revenues or attracting business of some form or another? Is it capable of returning some if not all of the money invested in it? If not, the best search engine placements on the Internet are not going to be much use.

The need for search friendly design is obvious, the demand is real.

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Wednesday, June 21st, 2006

Dear Friends…

A couple of years ago, when I was the head SEO here at StepForth Placement, that was the way I would open all letters, notices or bulletins to our clients. “Dear Friends”

While “friends” might not be the most appropriate business-like greeting, it was the one that I felt best suited the relationship I wanted to establish between the company and its most important assets (and renewable resources), our customers. Read more…

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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 Ask.com) 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 & Barry.com.

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

I am a SEO. As a search engine optimization specialist, I have spent the better part of the last decade studying search engines to get a better understanding of how they work in order act as a guiding consultant for paying clients. My clients, or more appropriately, my firm’s clients, are interested in having their web documents found on the first page of search results across all the major search engines. After spending years traveling trenches full of fiber, my colleagues and I have gotten very, very good at getting those first page placements. If only SEO was really so simple. Read more…

It is sometime close to eight fifteen in the morning when our sales manager, Bill, unlocks the door, fires up his computer, and begins brewing the first of several pots of coffee the staff will soon consume. As the coffee machine sputters and burbles, Bill scans his emails, listens to phone messages and begins his daily hotlist to-dos for clients and resellers. As we work in the Pacific Time zone, communication with the rest of North America is an early morning priority. The East Coast tends to take lunch around the same time those of us out west are ingesting our first cups of java. Read more…

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