Microsoft Creates Education Alliance with SEMPO Institute

By Manoj Jasra

image Microsoft Corp. and SEMPO Institute, www.sempoinstitute.com, announced today an education alliance in which personnel from 20,000 affiliates of the MSN search engine will have access to SEMPO Institute’s online learning program designed to provide in-depth knowledge of best-practices in search engine marketing.

As part of the new alliance, personnel from the MSN affiliates will be able to take SEMPO Institute’s Fundamentals of Search Marketing class.  SEMPO Institute also offers online classes in Advanced Search Engine Optimization and Advanced Search Advertising.  Fundamentals consists of 14 lessons intended to give the student a high level understanding of the essentials of search engine marketing.

Since SEMPO Institute launched in early 2007, the student feedback has been very positive – 80% say they would recommend the Fundamentals course. “All companies need the fundamentals of search marketing in order to implement an e-marketing strategy,” says SEMPO President Jeffrey Pruitt. 

ReachLocal Raises $55.2m in Funding

By Vinny Lingham

imageReachLocal announced today that they have received a further round of  funding by Rho Ventures, in conjunction with their original investors. The latest round of funding is $55.2m–which values the company at $305m.

ReachLocal’s target market are Small & Medium enterprises, and they have built a platform that allows smaller companies to easily market themselves.

I’ve just watched the ReachLocal video, and it seems that their real value proposition is that they’ve integrated online and offline touch points (points of contact), and can track and report on this for small & medium businesses, which in most cases do not have high hurdles of integration.

This is particularly valuable, as many companies do not factor in the value of offline conversion, related to search engine marketing–those that do, are able to price their keywords far more competitively.

Given the size of the SME marketplace, ReachLocal’s valuation may not be as astronomical as many would think, albeit very high for a traditional SEM firm.

About Vinny Lingham

Vinny is the CEO of Synthasite, a Web 2.0 publishing platform, that aims to revolutionize web publishing.  Synthasite launches on November 5th into Beta.

Google Base Now Asking Questions to Improve Product Searches

By Ryan Douglas

Recently I ran across a new feature called “Questions” within Google Base. It appears that Google Base is trying to actively learn about the products being submitted to Base with the help of its users. Our submitted data feed directed Google to ask me 30 questions about our products. The question displays a portion of highlighted text from a text string within the data feed and asks the merchant a question to help identify possible matches for filters like brand, color and material. Google notes that “a record of your answers will be retained by Google and used to improve the quality for your feed as well as our own products and services.”

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More Summer Time Search Marketing Tips

See also Kelvin Newman’s summer time SEM tips.

By Ryan Douglas

Don’t let the summer whiz past you and leave you unprepared for Q4 holiday season. Spend some of those long, sweltering days prepping your AdWords, YSM, and adCenter accounts. With some work, your search engine marketing performance can shine this holiday season. So grab some popsicles, put down the TV remote and follow these suggestions for beating the heat and preparing for the holiday season.

  • If you didn’t do any “spring cleaning” of your account it is not too late. I strongly suggest that you prune any extremely poor performing keywords or ad copy.

Positively Blogging – 9 Tips to Help Bloggers Avoid Negative Nelly

By Sheila Beal

With great enthusiasm, I started blogging about Hawaii vacation planning three months ago.  I’ve been plugging and posting away and know that I’ve definitely been bitten by the blogging bug.   From my experience with blogging, I now truly understand the definition of a labor of love.  I’ve learned that in the early days of a blog, the effort outweighs the rewards. 

As I have been traveling up the steep learning curve, I’ve been searching for advice on how to make a blog successful.  Recently, Problogger posted an excellent guest post from Tim Hamm on 10 techniques he used to grow his blog from  0 to 12,000 RSS subscribers in seven months.  Point number five really resonated with me.  It says “Don’t give into negativity.”  I think it is human nature to feel a bit frustrated and unmotivated when your blog isn’t an instant success, but you can’t let it get the best of you.

Merchant Adoption Rates of Google Checkout vs. PayPal Express

By Ryan Douglas

Recent news through Internet Retailer reports that the adoption rate of Google Checkout is slightly higher with Top 500 retailers than PayPal?s Express Checkout.

It is not surprising to hear this news as I work for a merchant who has offered Google Checkout since it was released to the public back in the summer of 2006. I?ve felt strongly that Google would be able to use this data to help retailers/advertisers offer more effective ads to potential shoppers. That time is still likely to come, but I imagine Google is working on it somewhere.

Widgets are for Affiliate Marketing!

By Ryan Douglas

ShareASale, a growing affiliate management company, released a widget creation tool early last month for merchants. With the ability for merchants to put together a customized widget, a large burden is relieved from the affiliates themselves. No longer does an affiliate have to constantly update their web site to reflect a merchant’s special offers which may include discount promotions, coupons and limited time offers. The unique ability of the merchant providing the content in the widget on an ongoing basis lets the retailer (merchant) have greater control over the desired outcome of their promotion. The merchant picks and chooses the items and offers being pushed to their affiliates. There exists a great opportunity for the affiliate manager to interact and customize offers, display colors and commission rates for specific affiliates.