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In this issue:

Estimating the Real Click Fraud Rate

Don't Risk Your Rankings With Unethical SEO

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

FEATURE: Estimating the Real Click Fraud Rate

The controversy surrounding click fraud comes up every year, but it reached a fever pitch during December's Search Engine Strategies conference in Chicago when participants voiced concerns over experiencing fraudulent click rates ranging from 20 to 40 percent, threatening the entire paid search industry. At the time, Google's Business Product Manager for Trust and Safety Shuman Ghosemajumder tried to calm advertisers' fears explaining that Google was currently "...examining ways to make its fraud-fighting efforts more transparent without revealing crucial information that might help swindlers elude detection." Ghosemajumder did, however, express concerns over revealing too much information, fearful it would give away algorithm secrets to competitors.

BACK TO BASICS: Don't Risk Your Rankings With Unethical SEO

The worst kept secret in Internet Marketing is the advantages of a well-wrought search engine optimization campaign. Companies are quickly adopting SEO into their marketing plan and looking for someone they can trust to optimize their Web sites in order to achieve top search engine rankings. However, not all SEO practitioners are created equal so be sure you know what you're getting before you sign a contract for search engine marketing or SEO services.

Hot Topics

A New Breed of Search Conferences

In the early days of search engine optimization, training didn't exist. However, as the industry matures, so have its opportunities for SEO training.

Most search marketers know to clear their calendar for the big shows like Search Engine Strategies, WebmasterWorld and Ad:Tech, but recently there has been a strong emphasis on creating intimate learning communities featuring big name speakers. It's not just about SEO training anymore; it's about finding the right training for the needs and dynamics of your business.

If you're new to the business, you'll still benefit from the larger shows like Search Engine Strategies. But for those who have attended multiple SES events, these niche-based opportunities increase knowledge transfer, and fill in the gaps between big shows. We're seeing a whole new breed of search engine optimization training develop - the small, niche search mini-conference.

Bigger Is Not Always Better

Mini-conferences are everywhere. You couldn't read your favorite industry blog this month without hearing about a new, more intimate search event.

  • Industry veterans Jeremy Schoemaker, Rae Hoffman, Todd Malicoat, Greg Niland and Michael Gray launched SEO Class.
  • Dave Naylor, Greg Boser and Jennifer Slegg launched Seodays.
  • The smaller SEMpdx Searchfest had its first-ever show in Portland.
  • Search Engine Journal formed the SEO Clinic.
  • After a very impressive first go, the gang behind the exclusive Elite Retreat is gearing up for their second showing later this month.

The allure behind these smaller shows is that they allow search marketers to interact in small learning communities, which facilitate knowledge transfer and networking. Kim Krause and Lee Odden have both declared that "small is the new big".

The small search engine marketing shows give attendees extended face-time with high-profile presenters. Instead of waiting in line to pounce on that Google representative, you can talk one-on-one at length about your particular site or business or see Guy Kawasaki make a rare keynote appearance. The success of Elite Retreat, which charges $5,000 for admission, proved that to marketers the opportunity to engage with industry leaders is worth it regardless of the cost.

More Targeted, Niche-based Training

We're seeing the creation of an entirely new kind of learning environment. SEM and SEO training is not only getting smaller; it is becoming more targeted to a particular audience.

  • Danny Sullivan's upcoming Search Marketing Expo will tailor itself to advanced search marketers.
  • Search Marketing Expo will also hold SMX Local to help small businesses.
  • SEO Class is holding a special event for non profits.
  • SES Latino focuses on the Hispanic and Latin American market.
  • Last month's SES London was geared towards European search engine marketing.


Bill Wise joined Right Media after leaving Did-It last month, Unica welcomed former WebSideStory CMO Rand Shulman, Martin Green signed on to Meebo as their Vice President of Business, Nisha Kumar was named CFO of AOL, and Robert Charlton became the new co-moderator at WebmasterWorld's Google News Forum.

Leaving house was Avinash Kaushik bidding farewell to Intuit for Google, Chris Payne left Windows Live Search, Patrick Keane left Google to become Executive Vice President and CMO of CBS Interactive, Michael Gartenberg left Microsoft to go back to Jupiter, and Andy Jonesco resigned from AOL UK.

In mergers and acquisitions:

  • Avenue A/Razorfish paid $7.9 million for the French online ad firm Duke.
  • IAC's CitySearch bought InsiderPages.
  • SplashPress Media acquired Tubetorial.
  • YouTube paired up with the BBC.
  • Google partnered with Friendster.
  • Technorati bought news aggregator Personal Bee.
  • Microsoft joined forces with Lenovo, and then confirmed they would be buying TellMe Networks for more than $800 million.

In redesigns, My.Netscape tried to re-brand itself as a Web 2.0 personalized home page and the Yahoo! Search Blog underwent a site revamp.


The beginning of the month had around 300 of search's finest heading to Portland for the first-ever SEMpdx SearchFest 07. Early reviews of the event have been very positive. Presenters like Matt McGee and Rand Fishkin have shared their experiences and the SEMpx blog has full recap information.

Looking ahead to the rest of the month, search marketers would be wise to keep those suitcases packed:

  • Minneapolis will see the High Rankings Search Engine Marketing Seminar on March 15-16.
  • Bruce Clay's SEOToolSet training resumes in Simi Valley, CA on March 19-22.
  • ClickZ Specifics: Online Video Advertising hits San Francisco on March 19.
  • Search Engine Room 2007 will go down under in Australia March 20-21.
  • The first-ever Seodays Conference arrives in London March 20-21, as well.
  • Search Marketing World 2007 lands in Ireland on March 21.
  • March 22 is the deadline to sign up for the China Search Marketing Tour.
  • The newly formed SEO Class training kicks off March 23 in New York.
  • SES Munich hits on March 26 & 27.
  • Google AdWords Seminars will bring the month to a close in Detroit on March 27 and in Minneapolis on March 29.

If that's not enough search for you, you'll also want to clear your schedule for April's two big shows: Search Engine Strategies New York on April 10-13 and Ad:Tech San Francisco on April 24-26. Bruce Clay, Inc. will be attending both and Lisa will be covering the sessions with her usual recaps.

Looking ahead to the summer, South African SEOs should mark their calendars for the SEOToolset training, taking place July 9-11. For more information on this semi-annual class, please visit the South Africa training page. Registrants from outside Cape Town get a 15% discount.

Programming Note: With so many shows next month, the SEO Newsletter is going to be taking a mid-month short hiatus. Look for a jam-packed newsletter at the end of April and keep your eye on the Bruce Clay Blog for all your search news and conference updates.


For both the European and US markets, Google announced a new privacy protection measure, updating their privacy policy to state that they will anonymize data "after 18-24 months." We couldn't be happier.

Not content to just dominate the States, Google has officially become the UK's second-largest advertiser.

Google's likely also responsible for the reports that online ad spending may surpass $60 billion in three years. Reading through the 10-K Google filed this month shows their liquid assets have reached $11 billion.

Microsoft began a charity drive that donates money when users start a conversation using Microsoft Messenger to chat online.

MySpace paired up with The New York Times for the second annual Win A Trip With Nick competition that gives one college or graduate student and one middle or high school teacher the chance to win a trip to Africa.

More congratulations: The DigitalPoint Forums turned three this month, Facebook was named the top social networking site by a recent Youth Trends poll, and Digg hit the 1 million registered users mark.

Word on the Wire

Though Google still hasn't confirmed it, speculation over the Google Phone reached new heights, this time with pictures. There was also buzz about a possible Google/Dish Network deal that could help solidify Google's leap into television ad space.

Yahoo's stock took a dive earlier this week after the Wall Street Journal speculated their deal with AT&T may be on the rocks.

And rounding out the rumor mill were reports that would switch to Pronto for its shopping service instead of PriceGrabber, that MySpace was gearing up to launch a Digg competitor, and that the AOL/TradeDouble deal is in danger of falling through.

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