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In this issue:

FEATURE:
The Essence of SMX West 2008


NOT JUST THE USUAL: Conference Edition
Links & PageRank: The Never-ending Conversation,
Search 3.0, Search 4.0 and Beyond
and Training.

FEATURE: The Essence of SMX West 2008
Last week saw the inaugural Search Marketing Expo: West come and go. Industry coverage of the event was extensive, so unless there was only a specific topic of interest to you, you may find sifting through the mountain of issues, questions and suggestions a daunting task. Along with the daily recap of sessions attended by BC bloggers Lisa Barone and Susan Esparza, we've broken down the coverage into a look at the overarching themes that generated a majority of the conversation last week.


Links & PageRank: The Never-ending Conversation

After much speculation, Andy Beard finally stepped up to talk about the fluctuations in PageRank site owners were experiencing this month and the rumors that a Toolbar PageRank update was underway. Barry Schwartz blogged that Google had finally updated its external link data, also letting site owners know that the engine had removed the download table option that made it easy for them to leverage their data.

Eric Enge used a YOUmoz post to declare I Don't Buy Links, Debra Mastaler gave Search Engine Land readers A Big Roundup of Link Building Tools, and Ann Smarty helped us analyze our competitor's backlinking strategy. There was also some chatter in the forums that bad links can kick you once you are down.

Not surprisingly, the Linking Q&A panel that took place during SMX focused largely on the issue of paid links. Rae Hoffman blasted the search engines for creating a link economy and then putting the responsibility on search engine marketers to solve the problem they created. We also received confirmation from Matt Cutts that it wouldn't be impossible for a competitor to sabotage your linking structure and make it look like your site was acting in an unnatural way.


Search 3.0, Search 4.0 and Beyond

The Danny Sullivan-coined buzzwords "search 3.0" and "search 4.0" were given new prominence this month, most notably through Danny Sullivan's keynote presentation at SMX entitled Search 3.0, Search 4.0 and Beyond. Other Search 3.0 and Search 4.0 sessions during the conference included Video, Images and Blended Search, Will The Social Graph Change Search, Louis Monier's keynote on the Past, Present & Future of Search, and the Personalized Search Revolution.

Keeping with the new era of search, Yahoo released its SearchMonkey platform which consists of a set of APIs that will enable third parties to enhance their search listings using blended search-type features like ratings and reviews, images, deep links and other kinds of data.

Still on the subject of the new era of search, Huomah.com enlightened readers on The Value of Social Media Marketing and Sage Lewis gave us a video lesson on using Sphinn.


Training

The need for SEO training was again brought to the forefront of the conversation. Late last month, SEMPO announced its new board of directors for the coming year. Those trusted with the task include Chris Boggs, Jessica Bowman, Dana Todd, Kevin Lee and our very own Bruce Clay.

TopRank blogger Dana Larson issued a review of SEMPOs Advanced SEO Course, commenting that it "provides SEO professionals with the resources to take their work to the next level" by focusing on the tools needed to do the job efficiently.

The debate over whether it's time for search marketing standards came around again during SMX West and was one of the most heated sessions of the entire conference. Chris Boggs lobbied for a SEMPO-owned document that would clearly define Search Marketing (SEO and SEM) tactics and provide a risk rating. Ian McAnerin was there to issue the counter argument, but later in the Q&A reminded the audience that the industry is ultimately advertising-backed; meaning that if we don't create our own industry standards, someone will step in and do it for us.

Search Engine Watch listed a number of online SEO training options, and as you know Bruce Clay has its own SEO training program. Now that SEO isn't just for the big boys, proper education really is a must.


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.