Charity Contest, Microsoft’s SEO Program & More PageRank Talk

Hi. No, I haven’t vanished. I’ve just been in SEO training for the past two days. I’m wicked smart now. Here’s what’s been happening while you were missing me and I was hoarding training’s chocolate chip cookies.

Countdown: 4 Days Left!

As our totally sexy SEO Contest countdown in the blog sidebar has already alerted you, there are just four days left for you to get in your site submissions for our SEO Charity contest, the only contest that will send you to SES NY and through our SEOToolSet and Advanced Certification Course for free. For free!

If you want to get in on the fun, we’ll need you to pair up a nonprofit and tell us in 1,000 words why that site would benefit from an organic search engine optimization campaign and what you would to fix the site. Your submissions must be in my inbox no later than end of day Monday, February 11th. The winner will be revealed on the 15th. Get crackin’, kids, time is a wastin’!

Microsoft + SEOmoz = BFF4Eva?

As I mentioned, I was bunkered down in SEO training for the past two days. Imagine my surprise when I headed back into the office stumbled across this post by Dave Harry entitled: Microsoft and Rand Team up to Squash the SEO Industry. In it, Dave mentions that Microsoft has started offering SEO services. Okay, another engine offering search engine optimization services is creepy; however, what really made the little hairs on my arms stand up is when I got to the part about how if you sign up for Microsoft’s search engine optimization services you also get a free 3 month SEOmoz membership. Mmm incest.

Rand’s forced to be tightlipped on the whole scenario due to NDA restraints (otherwise I’m sure we would have received a delicious linkbait-filled entry), but my guess is that SEOmoz won’t have a hand in the actual SEO aspect and have instead just signed a partnership with Microsoft. Or at least that’s what I’m hoping. Still, definitely something to be aware of for lots of juicy and scandalous reasons.

SEOmoz issues aside, you have to wonder if it’s smart for Microsoft to be encroaching on the SEO space and why they’re doing it. Let’s be realistic here. Google is offering a similar program, right? If you had to choose who to trust your search engine optimization campaign to, would you pick Google or Microsoft? If the choice of who to do your SEO was your new Boxer puppy or Microsoft, you still probably wouldn’t pick the boys from Redmond, right? Microsoft has plenty of other things to be focusing on and strengthening right now, trying to add an SEO component probably isn’t smart. Plus, it freaks people out because we don’t really know what they’re offering. Is it basic search engine optimization advice? Is it more of a paid placement program? Is it going to only include MSN-friendly tips? We have no idea.

PageRank is Not Meaningless

Tamar Weinberg is over at Search Engine Roundtable crying that PageRank means nothing. I heart my BFF, but I’m going to have to majorly disagree here.

As I commented over at Search Engine Roundtable, PageRank doesn’t mean "nothing", in fact, it means a lot. It’s Toolbar PageRank that means nothing, and there is a huge, huge difference between the amount of juice flowing through your site and the amount of green pixie dust in your Google Toolbar. People should stop getting them confused.

Real PageRank matters. I’m not saying you should obsess over it, but it’s definitely something to be aware of when optimizing your search engine optimization campaign. PageRank is Google’s automated way of figuring out which pages are most important on the Web. Search engine optimization is about making your pages the most relevant on the Web. See how they kind of go hand in hand? It’s important that site owners take advantage of all their available PageRank by implementing search engine optimization techniques like siloing. You want to create a hierarchical site architecture that passes juice to the most important pages on your site. This will help focus your internal linking and allow these relevant pages to rank higher and attract more visitors.

It’s unfortunate that the idea of PageRank has evolved into some sort of advertising metric, because the real concept is so much more than that.

Microsoft launches Smart Web Ads

Has anyone else noticed all the sweet Microsoft/advertising related stories popping up lately? The latest one reveals that Microsoft is touting some awesome new ad options like demographic targeting, placing ads around subject themes not keywords, and using speech recognition software to create video transcripts and better match ads. Um, hi, Google called and they’d like for you to stop kicking their ass.

Seriously, people, Microsoft is taking names with all their new ventures. If they end up buying Yahoo, dropping the crappy MSN index and introducing the Yahoo audience to adCenter that could be one profitable venture. AdCenter would finally get the traffic and eyeballs it seems to deserve.

Fun Finds

Bill Slawski tells us that Microsoft may start reranking search results based upon your calendar. launched BigNews, a lovely Google News/Digg hybrid. Is it pretty? Yup. Will I use it? Probably never.

Lisa Barone is a writer, content marketer & VP of strategy at Overit Media. She's also a very active Twitterer, much to the dismay of the rest of the world.

See Lisa's author page for links to connect on social media.

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