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SEOToolSet® Training Comes to You

We're very pleased to present Bruce Clay, Inc.'s famous SEO training course now with East Coast style. That's right, we will now be holding our SEOToolSet Training in New York! All of Bruce Clay, Inc.'s normal SEO goodness, now with tastier bagels!

Going to SES New York? Stick around an extra day and participate in the SEO workshop. This is a one-day seminar built off the SEOToolSet Training course and is a perfect supplement to four days of search engine marketing sessions. Small business owners will find this course especially helpful.

And as always, there is Bruce Clay, Inc.'s SoCal SEO training sessions. You can also register for the standard SEOToolSet Training here in sunny Southern California. Our next class takes place March 16-18, so make sure you sign up soon as space is limited.

FEATURE: Dear C-Suite, Wondering About the Value of SEO?

In conversations with potential clients, I have often heard bottom-line, just-the-facts questions such as these:

In order to explain the true scope of the questions being asked and why such questions about the value of search engine optimization are so complicated to answer, I will draw parallels between a typical executive's traditional work experiences and the new online business environment.

BACK TO BASICS: Web Spam Tactics for Search Marketers to Avoid

You might have experienced this during the holiday season: a perfectly innocent meat and cheese tray is sitting, beautifully arranged on a doily, waiting for guests to come and sample its wares. But upon closer inspection, there is one corner which features an incongruous-looking deli meat, hiding next to the pepper jack cheese. When you sample it, you know that this is no gourmet deli treat. This mystery meat is spam. Suddenly, the deli tray is no longer appetizing, so you move on to the veggie tray.

Search engine spam has the same effect on Web sites that those slices of dressed-up meat spam had on that deli tray. No matter what else is on there, spam is automatically going to be frowned upon by the other SEOs in the room, and the search engines are going to come after it to make sure the entire platter stays in the kitchen and away from the other guests. Spam isn't search engine optimization but it certainly tries to pass itself off that way.

Hot Topics

At SMX West last week, Google, Yahoo and Live Search announced a collaborative effort to clean up the clutter of duplicate URLs on the Web. A new tag, called the canonical tag, will be recognized by the three major search engines, allowing site owners to indicate the preferred URL of a page.

The Problem with Non-Canonical URLs

As Vanessa Fox pointed out on Search Engine Land, multiple URLs which all point to the same Web page cause a duplicate content issue within the search engine indexes. There are several negative consequences of duplicate URLs. When a search engine recognizes a duplicated page it may choose to filter the result from SERPs, leaving the decision of which URL is preferred to the search engine rather than the site owner. Link popularity may also suffer due to duplicate URLs if the link popularity intended for a single page is split among multiple URLs. Furthermore, the ability to crawl a site may be diminished if the limited bandwidth dedicated to spider the site is used on duplicate pages.

The New Canonical Tag

The canonical tag works by telling the search engine where the preferred URL is located so that appropriate indexing can occur and link popularity can be properly attributed. Along with the official announcements which can be found on each search engine's blog, Matt Cutts has gathered several resources to help webmasters learn more about the new tag. WordPress wizard Joost de Valk has made canonical URL plugins/extensions available for WordPress, Magento and Drupal.

The Tag is a Precaution, Not a Solution

While hailed as a time and effort saver by SEOs, search engine representatives have been careful to warn against using the canonical tag as the only solution for duplicate URLs. Because the canonical tag is a recommendation and not a directive, each search engine has reserved the right to select which URL it provides to users. Therefore, it is important that webmasters continue to manage duplicate URLs as recommended before the creation of the canonical tag: 301 redirect non-canonical URLs to preferred URLs, specify preferred URLs in Webmaster Tools, submit preferred URLs via XML Sitemap, normalize URLs within your CMS, and link consistently to preferred URLs within your site.


On January 26, the nation was rocked by a slew of layoff announcements as more than 60,000 jobs were cut on a single day. That day has since been dubbed Bloody Monday, and the tech industry did not escape the event unscathed. For a look at how the tech sector has fared in the down-trending economy, TechCrunch is tracking tech layoffs.

Despite job losses occurring across the board, several industry heavyweights defied conventional thinking to pursue new ventures. A big BCI congratulations goes out to SEO super blogger Lisa Barone, former voice of the Bruce Clay, Inc. blog. Lisa parted ways with We Build Pages to form Outspoken Media with partners Rhea Drysdale and Rae Hoffman.

Prior to launching the company Rhea had also resigned from We Build Pages, as did Google Guidelines expert Patrick Sexton. Patrick has since launched with partner David Mihm.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt took on a new position as an international business advisor to Britain's Conservative Party. Co-founder of Apple, Steve Wozniak, became the chief scientist of Salt Lake City-based tech start-up Fusion-io. Kevin Ryan, well known for his role at the Search Engine Strategies conference series, was named chief marketing officer of WebVisible. Veteran marketer Eric Lander resigned from his position as organic search manager of ADP to work as an SEO and project management consultant.

A number of tech companies saw a shake up in share values and profits over the last month.'s parent company IAC performed worse than expected in the fourth quarter. Apple reported a 3.5 percent drop in shares following CEO Steve Jobs's announcement of medical leave. Logitech reported a 70 percent drop in third-quarter profit compared to last year. Intel Corp.'s Q4 profit plummeted 90 percent year over year. And IBM resisted the trend with a 12 percent increase in fourth-quarter profit. Start-ups were hard off as venture capital funding in the U.S. was down 71 percent in the fourth quarter.

In news of broad corporate layoffs, Forrester Research was rumored to have initiated a 2 percent cut of analyst positions. Microsoft confirmed that up to 5,000 jobs would be cut in the next 18 months. Digg announced a restructuring effort that would eliminate 10 percent of their workforce.

According to a report by Efficient Frontier, search marketing spend declined 8 percent in the final quarter of 2008, with ad prices dropping 50 percent year over year.

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.

February 4
(Listen Now)

Analytics: Finding Trends

Richard Zwicky

Long Tail Optimization

February 11
(Listen Now)

Small Business SEO

Patrick Sexton

Hyperlocal SEO

February 18
(Coming Soon)

Analytics + CMS

Bill Leake & Alissa Ruehl

CMS Considerations

February 25

Video and Image Search

Mark Robertson

Book, News & Blog Search

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.


Up next on the industry conference plate is Search Engine Strategies, with conferences in London taking place February 17-20 and New York on March 23-26.

On top of the standard conference offerings of SES New York, Bruce Clay, Inc. is presenting a one-day version of our SEOToolSet Training course.

If you can't make it out east or across the pond, fear not, there is a Search Engine Strategies Training Workshop on March 10 in San Francisco.

Also fast approaching is Ignite Phoenix 3 in Tempe, Arizona being held on February 25. Make sure you RSVP ASAP!

For people in the great Northwest, there's always SearchFest 09, put on by the folks at SEMpdx, taking place March 10th, 2009 at the Oregon Zoo.


Google debuted a new feature for Google Map called Google Latitude. The service lets people show their location to friends and family by tracking them through mobile devices or wireless computers. Google Earth now explores new territories: the depths of the ocean and the surface of Mars. And Google updated Ad Planner to include a new cookie-based metric, additional country demographics and predefined audience groups, among other changes and additions.

Google's Tim Armstrong showed his support of traditional media by backing local community news site start-up Patch. Net neutrality advocates praised the FCC's continued scrutiny of Comcast's VOIP congestion management. And according to comScore, a record 14.3 billion online videos were viewed by U.S. Internet users in December.

Word on the Wire

Google appeared to be testing Ajax-powered SERPs this month, raising flags for SEOs concerned that Ajax SERPs would mask referring traffic. In another move that would complicate SEO efforts if implemented, Google is experimenting with Preferred Sites, a feature that lets users personalize their results.

The search giant also announced that it would be pulling the plug on its programs to sell print and radio advertising.

Google has reportedly requested that Time Warner either pay back Google's 5 percent stake in AOL or turn AOL into a separate company. In an interesting security breach, a Google Group thread in which grievances against the search company are aired by ex-employees appears to have been leaked.

TechCruch started the optimistic rumor that the worst period of slumping online ad revenues may have passed. While TechCrunch data reported an upswing in online ad revenue after three quarters of down-trending, Online Media Daily proposed that the rise in paid search revenue may reflect its status as a lagging indicator.

Popular analytics platform Omniture has reportedly been providing spotty service for more than a month. Google-owned RSS manager Feedburner has also proven unreliable in the last several months.

Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman announced her bid for governor of California on the Republican ticket.Annual mobile revenues are expected to reach $1 trillion by 2012, according to a report by Informa Telecoms & Media. And the number of Internet users across the globe has hit a new high with comScore reporting that more than one billion people regularly go online. A previous estimate by Internet World Stats shows the number as closer to 1.5 billion people worldwide.

If you have any questions or comments on any of the above Internet marketing news items 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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