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In this issue:

FEATURE:
Mastering PPC Management

BACK TO BASICS:
Title Tags Deconstructed

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

FEATURE: Mastering PPC Management
What do you think of when you hear the phrase "PPC management"? Do your thoughts drift toward managing budgets or tools like bid management programs? Budgets and tools are essential to managing PPC, but they are only a part of the overall campaign. PPC management software is useful for handling simple, repetitive tasks, but much like the scarecrow, it has no brain. It can help run bids, but it is not going to make suggestions on ad copy or make sure your account is set up properly.


BACK TO BASICS: Title Tags Deconstructed

When it comes to SEO, the page Title tag is one of the most important factors, or signals, that the search engines use to determine the relevance and importance of a particular page in relationship to a user's query. The search engines don't tell us which factors rate the highest in their algorithm, partly because if they did, it would be much easier to game the system. We can only guess on the importance of factors based on systematic testing or intuition gleaned from prolonged exposure to search engine results pages (SERPs).


Hot Topics

This month it was the search engine result pages that were getting all the attention. Users are noticing that as search evolves, the engines are moving farther and farther away from the standard 10 blue links SERP. The results are becoming personalized, increasingly more relevant and better formatted to meet the needs of users. Over the past few weeks, search marketers were given signs as to what the results page of the future may look like.

Google Tests Customizable SERPs

Late in the month, bloggers got wind of a new Google experiment that allowed certain users to personalize their search results by adding, moving, and removing listings as they saw fit. When users liked a result, they were able to vote it higher by clicking on the corresponding up arrow. If they didn't like, they could bump it down or remove it from their page altogether. As long as users remain logged into their account, they're able to take advantage of their customized search results page.

The reaction from the blogosphere was mixed. Bruce Clay's Lisa Barone found the experiment to be very reminiscent of the one spotted by Mike Grehan last August where Google was allowing people to add URLs to their individuals SERPs. TechCrunch called the test straight out of left field, Andy Beal joked this could end Wikipedia's reign as the number one Google search result, Jack Shofield called it Digg-like and Lisa Barone questioned why Google was turning their SERP into a keyword-specific bookmark holder.

Yahoo Promises New Structured Search

But Google wasn't the only one hinting at a new search engine results page design. On November 27, Macworld reported that Yahoo would launch a structure search component to their Web site to help users compare data on certain types of queries, possibly in the near future. The structured search format is most suitable for product-based searches.

While Mashable wondered if Yahoo's structured search could help them beat Google, Barry Schwartz was over at Search Engine Land showing readers that Google and Ask.com have actually both been implementing structured-type results for some time. Lisa Barone called it yet another instance of Yahoo playing catch up.

Are Hand-Crafted SERPs the Way of the Future?

While bloggers were buzzing about the proposed changes being made by Google and Yahoo, Jason Calacanis was shedding some insight into his Mahalo engine. Jason used a recent blog post to illustrate how Mahalo is able to craft search engine results pages, not by using an algorithm, but by hiring 10,000 editors to sort through results. Under the Mahalo system editors work together to come up with the best possible results page for a certain query.

Where is the SERP going next?

No one knows for sure, but you can be sure that the evolution of the search engines and their results page will be among the topics being discussed at both SES Chicago and WebmasterWorld PubCon. If you're headed to Chicago, keep your eyes out for the Orion Panel on Universal, Blended, and Vertical Search happening on Monday. In Las Vegas, the Universal and Personal Search - This Changes Everything session will be taking place Tuesday afternoon at PubCon.


Shuffles

Kristof Fahy was tasked to lead Yahoo's European marketing division, former Googler Jonathan Miller was appointed to the board of directors for online search ad management company Clickable, Megan Jordan joined YouTube/Google as advertising programs manager, and Greg Farrar was named president of Nielsen Business Media.

Search expert Todd Malicoat revealed he'll be joining Aaron Wall and Scott Smith over at Client Side SEM.

Avenue A | Razorfish appointed Basel Salloum to Vice President, Mary-Lynne Williams to Experience Director and Jason Pryslak to Experience Lead.

In leavings, Google AdSense creator Gokul Rajaram left Google to start his own company, while Dominic Preuss also left Google to become the Vice President of Marketplace at Meetup.com.

In mergers and acquisitions:

  • Yahoo inked a licensing deal with Sony BMG to let customers use music created by Sony artists in user-generated content.
  • AOL released a new and improved mobile Web browser, teamed up with CBS Radio to make AOL video content available on the CBS Radio Web site, and began offering a new advertising format called video ticker ads.
  • AT&T bought the Ingenio ad network.

In redesigns, Pricegrabber revamped their Web site to give users a new giant search box and to highlight their Storefronts feature.


Shindigs

Next week, WebmasterWorld Pubcon and Search Engine Strategies Chicago will go head to head in the battle of the search conferences. As we've previously mentioned, we'll be covering PubCon, but we're providing at least some degree of coverage for both. You can find out which sessions we'll be recapping, and where Bruce will be speaking, by viewing our session coverage schedule posted on the Bruce Clay, Inc. blog.

Search Marketing Now is offering a Web cast hosted by Detlev Johnson on Dec. 13 at 1:00pm EST entitled "Search Marketing - The Basics" If you prefer in person, there will be a one day SEO workshop in New York for public relations professionals on December 14.

Jumping ahead to early 2008, search marketers will be able to enjoy all of their favorite international shows. There will be SES Paris happening 15-16 January, SES London on 19-21 Feb, Ad:Tech Sydney on 12-13 March, and Bruce Clay's Australian SEO Course being held in Sydney 17-19 March. Meanwhile, stateside search marketers can look forward to SMX Santa Clara on February 26-28 and SES NY taking place March 17-20.

Programming note: Bruce Clay, Inc will be taking a break from our SEO training course in December. Keep your eyes on the site for your next training opportunity coming in January 2008.


Attaboys

TechCrunch revealed Google's awkwardly named "Google Highly Open Participation Contest", which is aimed at introducing secondary and high school students to open search software development.

YouTube was named the most popular video search engine by Alexa.

Founder and CEO of Bigmouthmedia Steve Leach was named UK Entrepreneur of the Year at last week's National Business Awards.

Barry Schwartz celebrated his 5,000th post at the Search Engine Roundtable blog. Congratulations to Barry and a big thank you for all your hard work from the entire search community.


Word on the Wire

There was an assortment of juicy rumors circulating the blogosphere over the past two weeks, and some of them weren't about Google!

TechCrunch UK speculated that Rupert Mudoch's News Corporation, the same company that owns MySpace, was set to buy LinkedIn. The American version of TechCrunch jumped on the rumor that Facebook had offered Chinese social networking site Zhanzuo.com $85 million for a buy out. Facebook, however, denied these rumors.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Ask.com is gearing up for a China expansion in two years time and the Silicon Alley Insider attempted to offer proof that Microsoft planned to buy Yahoo.

As for the inevitable Google rumors, Bloomberg reported that Google stock may be approaching the $900 mark, that JotSpot will soon replace the lackluster Google Pages, and that we could finally see a functional version of Google's online storage application GDrive.


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.