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In this issue:

FEATURE:
The Impact of Personalization on SEO

BACK TO BASICS:
SEO with Google Webmaster Central

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

FEATURE: The Impact of Personalization on SEO



Personalization of search has been a growing topic of interest for a while, but has stayed under the radar for most people until now. With Google's widespread integration of personalization into standard search results, search marketers' attention has finally been firmly riveted on the issue.



BACK TO BASICS: SEO with Google Webmaster Central

With the release of Webmaster Central from beta, Google has made a strong statement that serious Web site owners need to be concerned with, and aware of, a range of data regarding their sites. Crawl errors, backlinks and page load times are all available for a webmaster to study and parse through in order to refine and integrate with their search engine optimization strategy. Along with Yahoo and MSN, Google provides information at Sitemaps.org regarding how to create an XML file that will feed information to the search engines about a site. Google is committed to assisting webmasters with their sites, even going so far as to enable comments on the official Webmaster Central blog, the only official Google blog that has done so.



Hot Topics

Personalized Search In SEO

The hot issue over the past two weeks was personalized search: How does it work, who wants it, who doesn't, and what does this mean for the search engine optimization industry?

Google Says Personalized Results for Everyone

Google's experimentation with displaying personalized search results isn't new. If you're a frequent Google searcher, you probably noticed that in the past a blue link would appear on the right of your search results to let you know you were looking at results pulled specifically to match your prior search history. The link made it easy for users to toggle between personalized and traditional results. However, after a recent change in the way Google is handling search results that blue link is gone and every user who searches while logged into their Google account is now presented with personalized results, even if they never asked for them.

The change raised a lot of industry eyebrows, especially for those who feel personalized results should always be an option, never the default. Danny Sullivan was among the first on the story and warned readers not to fear the personalized results, that they were a benefit, not harmful. However, not everyone agreed.

In fact, most people didn't. Michael Gray, known to the search industry as Graywolf, called it "the feature no one wanted" and recommended Google kill personalized search immediately. Bruce Clay's Lisa Barone shared her concerns about using a system where personalization is mandatory and argued that constant monitoring opens the door to a slew of security concerns, especially for users not in the habit of logging out of their Google account.

A Deeper Look At Personalized Search Engines

The floodgates for personalization were opened by Google's announcement, but they didn't end there. Once the industry grew tired of dishing about Google, it was time to discuss all the other options available for personalized and social search.

Bruce Clay Inc. announced they had adopted the Collarity personalized search tool on their site to help users find what they were looking for faster. The difference between Collarity and other personalization tools is that Collarity is non-obtrusive and doesn't require users to register in order to benefit from its services.

The 10320 blog discussed the benefits of StumbleUpon as a personalization tool, Search Engine Watch highlighted social search engine Sproose, and there was plenty of talk about the impact social sites like Digg, Reddit and Del.icio.us were having on a users search results.

Speaking at the Search Engine Strategies conference in London, Google Engineer Matt Cutts told attendees that the future of search is personalization and localization. It looks like we're starting to see the beginning stages of both of those right now.

What does all this personalization mean?

The adoption of personalized search means the days of everyone being presented with the same ten search results is over. Users will now see results geared to their past searching habits and their results may not match anyone else's. This truth caused many to ask, without a uniform search engine results page will personalization be the death of search engine optimization?

Though some said yes, calling the development "cataclysmic" and arguing it makes SEO a dying art, the overall industry response was no, personalization will not diminish the importance of solid optimization.

While Erik Darron was correct when he wrote, "the single algorithm you're chasing now will soon become 500 million little ones", this doesn't mean the end to SEO. As SEOBook's Aaron Wall argued, personalization will not kill SEO because good clients recognize the industry has never been about rank checking, it's about increasing conversions and ROI. Personalization will, however, change the way we go about optimization as users begin working off individualized results. Gord Hotchkiss wrote about the future of SEO in a personalized search interface and adjusting to the new hierarchy of search results.


Shuffles

In search shuffles, Jason Calacanis formed new company 20.com, Yahoo Europe promoted Teresa Pereira to European trade marketing director, Eric Enge and Grant Crowell joined the Search Engine Watch blogging team, John Boyle joined Search Engine Journal, and Neil Patel and Cameron Olthuis were welcomed aboard at Text Links Ads.

Bidding farewell were dMarc founders Chad and Ryan Steelberg to Google, Yahoo! Music heads Dave Goldbert and Rob Roback resigned amidst rumors that Launch may be up for sale, developer Kevin Marks left Technorati, and John Paczkowski stepped down from Good Morning Silicon Valley.

Non-people shuffles included:

  • Yahoo's official launch of Panama.
  • iCrossing acquiring the UK SEM firm Spannerworks.
  • SEOMoz's revamp of their Web site.
  • comScore pairing up with Federated Media for analytics research.
  • Facebook's double pairing with Comcast to create Facebook Diaries, and with Jobster to bring a Linked-in style platform to the site.
  • MySpace's announcement to work with Audible Magic in order to identify and screen uploaded videos for copyrighted content.

Shindigs

We hope all of our Aussie readers were able to attend the first-ever Bruce Clay, Australia - Pty. Ltd.n SEOToolSet training course that took place last week. If you couldn't make it this time around, we'll be holding them twice a year; the next one is tentatively scheduled for August/September 2007. Keep your eyes glued to the Bruce Clay, Australia - Pty. Ltd. site for updates.

Today is the last day of Search Engine Strategies London, so if you hurry you may still be able to make it! If not, at least stay for the parties. Tonight's LondonSEO Big Party will be held at the Fox@Excel and is open to the entire search marketing community. Doors open at 5pm.

A bit of a programming note: In order to spread opportunities for search marketing training and education throughout the rest of the year, we've decided to postpone our UK SEOToolSet training class which was previously scheduled for 27 - 28 Feb, 1 March. We're looking at dates now so keep your calendars open.

Here's a rundown of some of the Must Attend search events happening in March:

  • The Search Summit will arrive in Sydney 1 March - 2 March.
  • SEMpdx, Oregon's largest search event, will take place on March 7th.
  • Jill Whalen is taking her SEO Seminar on the road and hitting Minneapolis on March 15th and 16th.
  • The second installment of the Elite Retreat hits San Francisco March 19-20th in San Francisco, and features Guy Kawasaki delivering the keynote.

Attaboys

Search engine optimization was named the best performing online advertising tactic in 2006.

Google released their end of the year results which showed almost a 75 percent increase in fourth quarter profit.

MySpace donated the sex registry it created with Sentinel Tech to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children to help enable Web sites to identify, remove, and block convicted sex offenders from online communities.


Word on the Wire

Rumors broke last week that the reason Viacom demanded YouTube remove some 100,000 videos from their site was because Viacom is secretly trying to put together their own YouTube.

Ionut Alex. Chitu performed some code digging and found Google may be adding a presentation tool to its suite of office products.

The Google Operating System blog also had the scoop about Google Fensi, a rumored Asian social networking site. (Fensi means "fans" in Chinese.)



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