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In this issue:

FEATURE:
Best Practices for Cross Linking

BACK TO BASICS:
SEO Competitive Research, Part 4

THE USUAL: Coverage of this month's
hot topics, shuffles, shindigs, attaboys and word on the wire.

BACK TO BASICS: SEO Competitive Research, Part 4

The most accurate results from competitive research are accumulated through time-intensive research and analysis. Consistent methodology is the key to reliable results for each interval. There are many free and paid tools available on the Internet that help reduce the time and increase methodology accuracy. This article seeks to categorize the best Competitive Research Tools available with insight on how they can get you better results in much less time.



Hot Topics

Thinking Vertical

FEATURE: Best Practices for Cross Linking



Cross linking sites together means that you are putting a link on site A to site B. These sites can be owned by the same person or just related sites wishing to link to each other. Cross linking is meant to help users by pointing them to other sites that might be of interest to them or that might give them further information on a particular topic. Unfortunately many will cross link merely to inflate Page Rank in the Google algorithm, quickly forgetting what cross linking is really meant to be used for.



What's a vertical search? Vertical search is any specialized search engine, or piece of a search engine, that help users find targeted information, whether that information is video, classifieds or locally based.

Yahoo seems to be leading the vertical search craze. The latest evidence of this is its re-launch of Yahoo Farechase, integrating it directly into Yahoo's existing travel search engine, Yahoo Travel. Searching for a destination or entering in airport codes via Yahoo will gives users the option to search for flights through Yahoo FareChase. Farechase scours all the major airlines to help users find the best deals on plane tickets. I found a roundtrip ticket from BUR to LGA for $306! Excellent. It's good to see Yahoo doing great things.

Google Base is helping Google to dig deeper into vertical search. Google has begun making enormous changes to integrate its Google Base searches into its main search with the help of Google OneBox's. Why should users look to topic-related search engines (like Expedia, TrueLocal, and Shopping.com) when they can head over to Google and get customized OneBox results on real estate, jobs, vehicles, recipes and an assortment of other areas? They shouldn't.

Also making notable progress is Ask. Their new toolbox of features, including their Smart Answers and Local-, News-, Shopping-, Weather- and Movie-specific searches (among others) are helping users to better use vertical search and easily refine ineffective query strings.

It wasn't just the engines getting involved, major media companies were also paying attention to vertical search. Fox Interactive Media, along with Foundation Capital, reportedly put $13.5 million into the employment vertical search engine. SimplyHired that has become vastly popular in recent months.


Shuffles

The Search Engine Blog got some new blood this month as Bill Slawski, Elisabeth Osmeloski and Brian Smith were welcomed aboard as SEW Blog Correspondent, Managing Editor, and Shopping and Vertical Search Correspondent, respectively. The similarity of the recent hires was enough to make Barry Schwartz and the SEW gang (that includes Danny Sullivan, Bill Slawski, Chris Sherman and others) joke they only hire people whose last name starts with an 'S'. Look out, Elisabeth!

In a surprising turn of events, MSN announced it had snatched up Ask's CEO Steve Berkowitz, the man often credited for turning the Jeeve-less site around, to head up Microsoft's Online Business Group, which includes MSN.com, MSN AdCenter MSNTV and Windows Live. Ask's former Senior Vice President and General Manager Jim Lanzone will take a new elevated position to become Ask's new Chief Executive Officer and the fresh face behind Ask. If anyone can do it, he can. Good luck to both Steve and Larry on their new ventures.

Meanwhile Yahoo! rewarded some of its hardworking staff with new positions: Dr. Qi Lu was promoted to Senior Vice President of Engineering for Search and Search Marketing and Ash Patel was promoted to Chief Product Officer.

Miva experienced some management shakeups as founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Craig Pisaris-Henderson and President Phillip Thune resigned their positions, but kept their seats on Miva's Board of Directors.

Also talking acquisitions, Google bought Dulance and Orion, Yahoo bought Tivo-esque Meedio while Microsoft acquired ProClairy.


Shindigs

There were lots of opportunities to catch your favorite SEOs in action this month as April hosted a series of must-see conferences. The month got off to a virtual start with the eComXpo that hit users' screens from April 4-6.

After that it was back-to-back and coast-to-coast heavyweight SEO events. First up was WebmasterWorld PubCon held in Boston two weeks ago. Bruce was on hand speaking at two of the sessions so we hope you had a chance to say hello. We hear spring has officially sprung in Beantown! YPN hosted a party opening night to keep those lonely SEOs from spending their night aimlessly riding the 'T'. We hear there were even YPN T-shirts on the way out. Ooo, swag.

Free T-shirt in hand, the big names in SEO migrated West to attend the ad:tech conference in San Francisco from April 26th-28th. With lots of fun events on the schedule, it was worth the 6 hour flight. The BC staff made the rounds to answer questions, while Bruce had the opportunity to speak at several of the sessions.

Also this month, SES hit Tokyo on the 20th, Toronto on the 25th and Italy on the 26th. Wow. It was quite a month!

Where will be Danny Sullivan and the rest of his gang be next? SES kicks off in London from May 31 to June 2nd. If you find yourself in London a few days early, try and head over to Threadwatch's SEO Pub Meet starting on May 28th. If you're looking for an agenda, there isn't one. This event is all about networking so whiten up those smiles, kids.

Also next month, SEW Live hits Seattle on May 19th. Full details are available on the Jupiter Events site.


Attaboys

First off, we'd like to congratulate Danny Sullivan on 10 years of writing about search engines. We think his anniversary recap is worth at least one read-through, if not more. Congrats Danny, here's to 10 more great search engine years!

SEO Book's Aaron Wall revealed the case against him filed by TrafficPower.com was dismissed on jurisdiction issues. Wall was served with a cease-and-desist letter back in June claiming he published 'proprietary and confidential information' that failed to list any infringements or give Wall any idea how he was supposed to comply. It's good to see that case has been resolved.

The engines started this month off with some elaborate April Fools jokes, and the Bruce Clay blog was there to cover all of it. If you haven't been reading our blog religiously (and shame on you!), we encourage you to go check it out. There's some good stuff in there.

On the search engine front, Yahoo had a month for the record books. First, they were declared the winner in the great Who Has The Best Mapping Service battle of 2006 conducted by TechCrunch's Michael Arrington. Personally, I prefer Ask's, but nobody asked me.

Yahoo!'s smiles got even bigger as its first quarter results were released touting some big numbers, including a monthly audience of 500 million, 3.8 billion page views a day, and the news that 50% of Internet users visits a Yahoo-branded site at least once a month.

(I wonder how those 500 million viewers feel about Yahoo helping to jail yet another Chinese dissident. This makes three, guys. Bad news.)

Late in the month they were they were awarded a patent for a payment processing tool that hopes to challenge PayPal and Google Payments. How do you get a patent for something other people have? I don't know, but they did.

Speaking of patents, Google was awarded three this month: one for a voice-activated search (holy, Star Trek), a controlled document retrieval system and a user search and recommendation system. When Google wasn't receiving patents they were releasing the long-awaited Google Calendar (!), re-'revolutionizing' search, opening international research centers and making friends in China.

Google also posted big numbers for Q1, coming back from their disappointing showing last quarter with what some characterized as a 'blowout performance'. A 79 percent increase in revenue to $2.25 billion certainly is nothing to sneeze at. The market certainly loved it; shares of Google stock went up 7 percent after the bell.

Meanwhile, MSN died for a few hours and then came back to launch its Academic Search. Raise your hand if you've heard anything exciting from Ask this month.


Word on the Wire

Once news of Google's patents became public the rumor mill busted onto the scene hypothesizing when Google's voice activated search would become available and what exactly it would entail: making your computer your personal secretary, voice-based searches or a Google-esque 411? The jury is still out.

Google Travel? Maybe. Users started seeing a OneBox when typing in airport codes. And real estate information. And for lots of other things. Google is not a portal. It's not. Or at least that's what they keeping telling us.

In other news, Merrill Lynch predicted that online ad sales would surpass magazines sales this year. I wonder if that's related to the recent Technorati study that reported the blogosphere doubles every six months? Go blogs!



If you have any questions or comments on any of the articles above or if you would like to suggest topics for future search engine optimization articles, please contact us at Bruce Clay, Inc.