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In this issue:

2009: The Year in Preview

Evaluating Inbound Link Relevancy

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

New Year, New Tools
Bruce Clay, Inc is starting the new year with two brand-new free SEO tools, which pull data from Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! and compile only the data that's most pertinent for your search engine optimization campaign. The new Search Engine Optimization/KSP tool lets you enter up to 12 keyword phrases at a time and see query counts, click-through rates and CPC rates, categories and searcher demographics for each keyword.

The new SEMToolBar™ installs in your browser to give you extra intelligence while you work online, from SEO facts on every Web page you visit to annotated search results that show keyword statistics and SEO data about each top-ten result. The toolbar also gives you powerful search functions. Run a "local" proxy search from another city or country, using the engine of your choice. The toolbar supports more than 20 languages, and integrates with the full SEOToolSet ® so that subscribers can run reports right from the toolbar. Happy New Year, everyone!

FEATURE: 2009: The Year in Preview
As 2009 dawns, change is a given. Actually, in the world of search, as any day dawns change is certain. The new year will bring substantial changes to our search engine optimization world worth calling out, and this is our moment to dust off the crystal ball and expound on the yearly trends we expect to see.

2008 was a year of giant strides by the search engines in two key directions: customization of search results for the individual user based upon behavior and preference and blended (or Universal) search results. Together, these have improved the overall search experience for users by making results more relevant and more engaging. And the SEO industry has so far taken these changes in stride.

BACK TO BASICS: Evaluating Inbound Link Relevancy

Everyone knows that having external inbound links is a crucial component of SEO. With Google in particular, it is extremely difficult to rank well without high-quality inbound links to your Web site. But what is a high-quality inbound link? In the past, people have generally considered a good link to be a link from a Web page with high PageRank (PR). Back before I started doing SEO, that may have been the case. However, Google got wise and has since enhanced their ranking algorithm to prevent inbound links from having the desired effect on rankings if they're coming from high PageRank pages with no keyword relevance.

Hot Topics

The U.S. stock market tumbled for the sixth straight day yesterday in only the second full week of trading since the new year began. Analysts believe that the grim trading that kicked off the first quarter of 2009 was due in part to the poor retail sales numbers that were reported after the holiday shopping season.

Holiday Sales Were Down

Online retail sales in December fell for the first time in seven years, and small and midsize businesses felt the sting more than the big brand retailers. The top sellers for November and December were retailers like Amazon and Walmart, known for discount prices as well as customer service.

CES Attendance Was Down

The world's largest consumer technology tradeshow, CES, saw an estimated 22 percent drop in attendance this year. The weakened economy has taken much of the blame, illustrating that consumers' ability to spend on non-essential goods has suffered. The principle can be extended to the B2B and service industries as well, which begs the question: what are you doing to remain an unexpendable asset for your clients?

Adapt in the New Year

Retailers and service providers are taking a close look at their marketing programs to evaluate and adapt their focus going forward. Plan campaigns with informed, trend-based marketing predictions, like those in this month's feature article by Bruce Clay. A recent poll of marketers showed that retention marketing, identifying new audiences and integrating Web 2.0 and social media technologies top the list of priorities in 2009. In many ways, getting basic marketing tactics right is more important than ever; establish a unique selling proposition, explain how your product or service goes beyond those of competitors, and establish trust and loyalty with a strong brand.


The rumor mill has been busy circulating the word that today Microsoft will lay off 17 percent, or 15,000 employees. While the truth of that is yet to be seen, Microsoft confirmed that the global VP of sales, marketing and services, Bill Shaughnessy, has left the company after 15 years.

Yahoo has named Carol Bartz the company's new CEO, who will be leaving software maker Autodesk for the troubled search engine. Over at Google, the search giant's end-of-year contractor layoffs are being treated likely a closely held secret, but the company did announce yesterday that there would be further layoffs in the upcoming year.

Steve Jobs, CEO and co-founder of Apple, announced that he would be taking a leave of absence through June in order to focus on improving his health, which has reportedly been declining due to a hormone deficiency.

The C-suite of the popular professional networking site LinkedIn played a bit of Hokey Pokey last month, replacing resigned CEO Dan Nye with former CEO Reid Hoffman, and hiring former Yahoo executive Jeff Weiner as interim president.

A Brussels-based viral marketing firm, ironically named So Nice, decided that rather than choose which employees to lay off, clients would be given the opportunity to choose for them.

Industry leader Danny Sullivan announced last month that he had recorded his final episode of the Daily SearchCast after more than three years because his time was being eaten up by trips, meetings and conferences.

A new director of Internet marketing, Gregg Finn, was appointed at the online marketing and Web development company 10e20.

Sound Bytes

If you like what you read in the SEO Newsletter, there's more Internet marketing expertise where that came from. Check out SEM Synergy every Wednesday at 3:00 p.m. Eastern and Noon Pacific on Bruce Clay and the other hosts discuss industry news, SEO tactics and marketing trends, while expert guests share their insights on methods, best practices and upcoming events. Check out the show schedule below for a look at recent shows and upcoming topics.

January 7
(Listen Now)

Halo Media

Gregg Banse

E-commerce Considerations

January 14
(Listen Now)

Spam Evolution

Scott Polk

Avoid Spam Tactics

January 21

Audience Targeting

Scott Skurnick

Finding Demographics

January 28

Customized Search


Google SearchWiki

Got something to say? Contact the SEM Synergy team and share your thoughts, comments and questions. You might even hear your question answered on the show.


The next major search industry conference will be SMX West February 10-12 in Santa Clara, CA. You can stay an extra day to attend a special Bruce Clay, Inc., SEOToolSet® Training on February 13, and even get a registration discount on the complete package.

Search Engine Strategies also has its conference schedule posted. Across the pond, SES London is set for February 17-20, hosted by Mike Grehan. Or, you could avoid customs and plan to attend SES New York on March 23-26 in the Big Apple.

Here at home, we're gearing up for lots of search engine optimization training in 2009! The next three-day SEOToolSet® Training will be given March 16-18 here in sunny Southern California, with an Advanced Certification Course right on its heels March 19-20.

You've been asking for it and we're bringing it to the sunrise coast. We're incredibly excited to announce that SEOToolSet Training on the East Coast officially launches this year as well, beginning with April 28-30 in New York with two more dates planned through the year. And that's not even all our training news. Keep an eye on the Bruce Clay blog for another announcement next week.


Yahoo received pats on the back from consumer privacy advocates last month after announcing that the company would anonymize data after 90 days, significantly faster than Google's nine-month period.

In a precedent-setting victory for search engines, a U.S. federal court decision absolved Google of liability for ads created in the AdWords program.

California schools are now armed with a new weapon in the fight against cyberbullying, as a new state law grants the authority to suspend or expel students found to be using the Internet or mobile messaging to harass other students.

In an effort that traditional media hopes is not too little, too late, newspapers showed that they were catching on to the new media world, reporting an upswing in adoption of social media and user-generated content.

Again showing an understanding of the power which can be leveraged online, this month President-elect Obama unveiled a new Web site that will function similarly to a Craigslist for public service. allows people to post and sign up for geographically organized community service activities.

Word on the Wire

Before the new year, the Pew Internet & American Live Project released its annual Future of the Internet report. Based on the survey responses of leaders, activists and analysts of the Internet, some of the major findings predicted to be in full swing by 2020 include: mobile devices will be the primary means of Internet connection; easy access to the Internet will bring about increased blurring of personal time and work time; and voice recognition and touch-screen interfaces will be more prevalent.

It appears that Google is performing a number of new tests in the SERPs, including enhanced page descriptions, a "jump to" feature and automatic spelling correction.

Following an Australian court's ruling that Facebook is an acceptable platform for serving legal notices, Burger King served a cease and desist notice via Twitter. The implications of being able to serve legal notice via social networking sites are far reaching.

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.

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