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In this issue:

Web Personas: Creating Jane

SEO Competitive Research, Part 8

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


FEATURE: Web Personas: Creating Jane

A web persona is a profile that represents your target audience based on calculated averages of your customer's buying processes, personality and demographics. Companies use personas as user archetypes to help guide their decisions and direction concerning product launch, new features, customer interaction and site design. By understanding the goals and patterns of their audience, companies can create archetypes to help create services to satisfy a specific, highly-targeted group.

[This piece is drawn from the articles section on For more articles on all things Internet Marketing, please visit often. Articles are updated monthly.]

BACK TO BASICS: SEO Competitive Research, Part 8: Troubleshooting Techniques

The final part of our competitive research series will wrap up and review all the preceding steps and focus on those final barriers to success. By now, you now have successfully completed each step outlined in this Competitive Research series. You have identified, measured, collected, analyzed and strategized but there is a small problem: you are still nowhere near a level playing field with your primary competitor. This article aims to teach you the how and why of troubleshooting those last barriers standing in your way to improving your search engine rankings across all major search engines.

Hot Topics

Giving It All Away

Earlier this month as many search folk were packing their bags and gearing up for SES San Jose, AOL unleashed one of the worst privacy blunders to date. While attempting to mine search data to give researchers more information about how people use the Web, AOL inadvertently exposed 3 months worth of private search queries from 658,000 AOL users.

AOL thought the "anonymous" ID numbers placed on each query would be enough to protect the privacy of its users, but of course, it wasn't. By the time AOL realized their blunder and took down all the offending information, it was too late. The data was already showing up on mirror sites everywhere.

The breach has turned into one of the largest PR nightmares AOL has ever faced.

The Fallout

In response to the incident, the Electronic Frontier Foundation submitted an 11-page complaint to the US Federal Trade Commission with a list of demands for AOL, including forcing them to expedite cancellation services for those who want it, to pay for at least one year of credit monitoring for affected individuals, to not store information for more than two weeks and to notify each user whose information was released.

The ramifications of EFF's request could cost AOL millions and keep them in court for years. Especially if rumblings of a possible class-action suit prove to be true.

As a result of the breach, AOL has promised to put together a task force to "develop new best practices on privacy" and to determine how long search data should be saved. They've also tried to make right by (very publicly) by firing the two individuals held responsible for the breach, and giving CTO Maureen Govern a chance to resign before suffering the same fate.

Their quest to regain the trust of their users is just beginning.

Waking Up Users

Privacy advocates have long predicted (and feared) a breach like this would take place. However, perhaps the silver lining in all of this is that users are being forced to shake off their complacency and ask questions. We're now starting to see searchers demanding to know what information is being stored, by whom and for how long.

It has become increasingly easy to click a box and allow the various engines to store all of our personal information, including credit card numbers. Now users see the dangers of blinding clicking 'yes'. We were all reminded that our privacy on the Web is only as secure as our favorite engine allows it to be.


AOL was also this month's shuffle leader, laying off an estimated 5,000 employees after switching to a free model earlier this month. And that doesn't include the three more (including CTO Maureen Govern) that left in their attempt at damage control.

Without a doubt the most shocking departure came when Danny Sullivan announced he would step down from Search Engine Watch and the SES series as of December 1st. Danny said the reason behind the split from Incisive was a contractual one; however, what caused it seems moot. With Danny gone from SEW and SES, we all lose.

Some of August's other notable movers and shakers:

  • Andy Beal resigned from Fortune Interactive, the company he started last year
  • Jason Goldman left Google Blog Search and Blogger to do "something somewhere small"
  • DaimlerChrysler's Bonita Stewart jumped shipped to become the director of Google's automotive vertical
  • hired PayPal CTO Chuck Geiger as the Executive Vice President of Technology and Engineering
  • Peter Daboll joined Yahoo! as chief of insights and head of global market research (whatever that means...)
  • Niall Kennedy broke hearts announcing he was leaving Microsoft
  • Mike Grehan formally resigned from MarketSmart
  • Harrison Magun left Avenue A/ Razorfish to join MSN Search
  • SEOmoz lost Kat Ortland and welcomed Jeff Pollard at approximately the same time

In non-human shuffles and changes:

  • paired up with CNN to bring user-generated content
  • AOL launched a new video portal
  • Andy Beal, Lee Odden and Kim Krause all revamped their blogs
  • Google teamed up with MTV and AOL and eBay
  • Microsoft paired up with Facebook and launched in the United Kingdom


Of course, August was all about SES San Jose. If you were able to attend we hope you had a chance to stop by the booth and say hi to Bruce and the rest of the traveling gang. For those of you stuck at home this year, we hope you enjoyed Lisa's session and party coverage.

If you hung around through Thursday, you got to hear Bruce fielding questions during the Organic Listings Forums, alongside industry experts Todd Friesen, Mike Grehan and David Naylor. It was a great session, if not for the expert commentary, for the rare (one-time only?) chance to see Danny Sullivan in lederhosen.

Unfortunately for all you travelers, there's no rest for the weary. September promises to be one busy month with Must Attend events scheduled throughout the month and throughout the world.

Here's a list of some of our favorites to watch out for:

  • September 15-18: Search Bash Jamaica
  • September 19-21: International Internet Marketing Conference (Stockholm)
  • September 22-23: Web Analytics: Optimizing Site Traffic and Interactions (Toronto)
  • September 23: SEO Roadshow (Denmark)
  • September 27-28: ad:tech London
  • September 28: SES Denver Local Search

Mark Your Calendars: The first ever Bruce Clay Europe Ltd. SEOToolSet® Training course will be held 13 November through 15 November in London. The three day course will include two days of our fundamental SEOToolSet® course, plus the Advanced Certification course on day three.

For more information on the London training course, please contact us.


David Sifry released his State of the Blogosphere, August 2006 report that showed two blogs are created each second of each day, causing the blogosphere to grow more than 100 times bigger than it was three years ago.

In a sign of unity, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and others announced they would join the IAB in establishing industry guidelines for what constitutes click fraud, which will allow the engines to quantify how rampant click fraud is industry-wide. The engines were slated to have their first meeting at the end of this month.

Google announced they will be working with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to help protect children online and to fight child pornography.

We want to send the whole Cre8asite Forum gang our congratulations after turning the big 4 this month. We hope they celebrated with lots of cake and streamers, just like all good four-year-olds should!

And lastly, congrats to Phil Lenssen who got married this month and let us know by changing the header on his Web site. As Barry Schwartz noted -- first Nathan, then Barry, then Gary Price -- we can't wait for these SEO babies.

Word on the Wire

Yahoo! took its blog search offline this month, causing a tidal wave of "what's going on" throughout the blogoscope. No word on how or when Yahoo! will start showing blog love again, but we hope the service gets "retooled" and re-released very soon.

Will you soon be able to call your Gmail buddies? Garett Rogers and his super script-decoding eyes found another anomaly hidden inside Gmail's source code . This time it was a reference to feature that will allow users to call their buddies directly from Gmail. Garett says when logged into Google Talk, some users should already be able to see a "call" button lurking.

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.