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In this issue:

FEATURE:
Search Marketers Need Web Analytics

BACK TO BASICS:
Search Engine Optimization Training Opportunities

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

FEATURE: Search Marketers Need Web Analytics
Without Web analytics, search marketers would only be obsessed with generating endless amounts of traffic. While counting unique visitors can be fun, there is no definitive way to prove that more traffic is necessarily a good thing, nor that it equals a higher rate of conversions. This is why we often hear the term “targeted traffic?being consistently associated with search marketing. In short, our success is determined by the quality of the visitors we generate with our work ?not the quantity.


BACK TO BASICS: Search Engine Optimization Training Opportunities

No matter how long you've been in the search engine marketing industry, chances are you've heard the benefits of SEO training extolled at conferences, on blogs, and in advertisements. From novices to veterans, training has value for all members of the industry as its aim is to educate or update search marketers on the methods, strategies, tools and techniques available to them. SEO Training also promotes best practices, standards, and ethics, with some programs offering certification. A good search engine optimization training course can significantly impact the way you approach SEO for the duration of your career.


Hot Topics

The big news this month centered on Ask.com and Barry Diller’s decision to refocus the engine to target married women looking for quick answers, essentially taking Ask out of the running to compete with Google and the other engines in the battle of search.

Ask.com Says Goodbye to Search

It started with a rumor. On Feb. 29th, Silicon Alley Insider reported that Ask.com was getting ready to either sell or kill off its powerful Teoma engine and begin outsourcing its search results to Google. Over at Search Engine Land, Barry Schwartz commented on the rumor and said if true, he wouldn’t be surprised. Ask.com’s Nicholas Graham chimed in later that afternoon to assure Search Engine Land readers that all rumors claiming they would be dumping their search technology were false. Bruce Clay blogger and Ask.com evangelist Lisa Barone argued that if Ask.com was going to lose anything, they should lose CEO Barry Diller, not the search engine.

Twenty four hours after Graham reported the rumors as false, Barry Schwartz was back over at Search Engine Land writing IAC Cuts 8% of Ask.com & Kills Search Engine, telling readers that Ask would be handing out pink slips to 40 members of its team and abandoning the Teoma technology, time warping the engine back to its early question and answer days. Without the backing of its powerful engine and cutting the cord on the innovative Ask3D, it seemed like Ask.com had officially thrown in the towel on search.

Industry Reaction: Brand Evangelists Betrayed

The news sparked an outcry in the industry from Ask.com fans that had stood by the engine for years and now felt betrayed. Bruce Clay’s Lisa Barone issued an emotional farewell to Ask.com in her post Goodbye Ask.com: A Brand Evangelist Hangs It Up. Lisa wasn’t the only one upset with Diller’s decision to kill off the engine. Danny Sullivan issued a bitter goodbye in Obit: A West Coast Digerati Deadpools Ask.com, WebProNews said Ask.com Follows Jeeves Into Exile, Google Blogoscoped wrote Ask.com to Become Women’s Site, Greg Sterling gave us RIP Ask.com?, and Metamend reported Ask.com is Dead. Search Engine Roundtable did a stellar job compiling the search community’s reaction to Ask.com’s new search strategy, which was also featured on the Shoemoney show.

Ask’s PR Department Changes Its Story

Amidst the backlash, Ask representative Graham went into damage control, reaching out to influential search bloggers and trying to convince them that Ask.com remained committed to search. While some bloggers like Jordan McCollum may have believed them, others like Lisa Barone, Danny Sullivan and Barry Schwartz refused. Whether or not the engine would live in an altered state, for fans, the voice of Ask had been irrevocably silenced.


Shuffles

Top Google executive Sheryl Sandberg resigned to join Facebook as their COO, Dan Farber replaced Jai Singh as the editor in chief of CNET, Jessica Bowman bid farewell to Yahoo, and Owen Van Natta left Facebook.

Closer to home, Donna Fontenot and Miriam Ellis signed on as moderators at Cre8asite Forums, while Rand Fishkin, Tim Malone and Chris Winfield all stepped down.

In corporate launches, mergers and acquisitions:

  • Google launched AdSense for Video to select publishers, added an invisible mode to GTalk, began integrating JotSpot into Google Apps, closed their acquisition of DoubleClick, and released both Google Sky and Google Ad Manager.
  • Yahoo launched Yahoo Buzz, updated Yahoo Video and revealed plans to "revolutionize the online advertising industry" with their Advertising Publishers Exchange (APEX).
  • Microsoft relaunched and rebranded its analytics platform Gatineau as Microsoft adCenter Analytics and launched the Microsoft adExcellence program in the UK.
  • AOL finally launched in Mexico, released AOL Home for people interested in entertaining, decorating and being domestically green, and paid $850 million for Bebo.
  • Taylor Nelson Sofres paid $75 million for Compete.com.
  • Robert Scoble announced the launch of FastCompany.tv.
  • Andy Beal released online reputation monitoring tool Trackur.com.
  • Jim Boykin bought SEOClass.com and announced four live training dates.
  • Automattic bought out WordPress plug-in series BuddyPress.

Shindigs

March may be on its way out, but the headliner search conferences are just getting started. Bruce Clay’s Australian SEO Training kicks off on 17-20 March, the same dates as Search Engine Strategies New York. If you’ll be in New York, try and make time to stop by the Bruce Clay booth and introduce yourself. Conference goers should also do their best to attend the IM-NY/BOTW Charity Party taking place Tuesday, March 18. All proceeds from the party will be donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Bruce Clay, Inc. will also be a Platinum sponsor for the SearchBash event taking place Wednesday, March 19 at 9pm. Check out the official SearchBash site for more details. Consult the SES New York City 2008 Parties and Events thread for a list of all the fun going on next week. See you in Times Square!

If you won’t be attending SES NY, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with Lisa’s SES NY liveblogging schedule so you know what coverage to expect.

Also taking place next week in New York will be the Ad Age Digital Marketing Conference on March 18-19, where you can catch both Danny Sullivan and John Battelle speaking.

Google will be offering up a free Google Analytics 2-day classroom training opportunity for nonprofits. The class begins March 19th and will teach search marketers the basic and advanced capabilities available to them within Google Analytics.

April is heavy with SMX shows, there’s SMX Munich (page in German) on April 8-9, SMX Sydney on April 10-11, SMX China on April 18-19, and SMX Social Media in Long Beach, CA on April 22-23.

Also in April will be the Elite Retreat in San Francisco on April 3-4, Blogger Social in New York City on April 4-6, the eMetrics Marketing Summit (page in German) in Munich on April 8-9, Ad:Tech San Francisco on April 15-17, and Small Business Marketing Unleashed on April 22-23.

Programming Note: The Bruce Clay, Inc. UK SEO Training class originally scheduled for November has been rescheduled to 9-11 September. These are the confirmed dates, so if you’re hoping to attend, make sure to reserve your seat today. Space is likely to go fast!

SEMPO will be hosting an open bar on Monday evening from 5:30-6:30 pm for everyone to meet and mingle with other SEMPO members. Attendees are invited to learn how they can get involved with the various SEMPO committees.


Attaboys

In search engine attaboys, Google was named the top brand in the UK, while Ask.com received the highest growth rate in the latest comScore study with 14.7 percent growth.

MarketingSherpa conducted a study to find out something we already knew ?SEO works.


Word on the Wire

The Quintera blog repeated speculation that Google may buy the Ukrainian Web portal Bigmir.net for $100 million. Google is also reportedly looking to invest in Wi-Fi space balloons to provide WiFi to places with little Internet and it looks like Google Health is gearing up for an official launch very soon.

TechCrunch reported that Technorati would launch a blogger advertising network. The network will be a self-serve exchange for bloggers, publishers and advertisers.

Bloomberg shared rumors that AOL would launch 12 new Web sites in 2008 in order to attract advertisers and appeal to as many consumers as they can, Search Engine Journal wondered if Yahoo’s recent addition of a MySpace tab on their toolbar hinted at an upcoming Yahoo/NewsCorp partnership, and Jason Calacanis got some debate brewing harking that Google will have 90 percent search market share by this time next year.


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