Marketing Pilgrim's "Search Marketing" Channel

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Microsoft bCentral Directory Closes

Could it be? Have we just lost one of the three valuable directories (Yahoo, DMOZ and bCentral) - recommended by many when launching a new site?

It appears Microsoft has shutdown its Microsoft Small Business Center, including the bCentral directory. Users trying to sign-up from this page, are greeted with the closure announcement.

As of November 15, 2006 Microsoft will no longer accept new sign-ups for select Microsoft Online Small Business Services.

These services, previously marketed under the bCentral™ brand, include Appointment Manager, Banner Network Ads, Commerce Manager, Customer Manager, FastCounter Pro, List Builder, Sales Leads, SharePoint®, Submit it!, Traffic Builder, and Web Hosting Packages.

While the services appear to be re-branding as Microsoft Office Live, the new site has no mention of a directory. Yikes!

Search Engine College Launches “Certification Pathways”

Kalena Jordan’s Search Engine College has launched Certification Pathways, a series of courses that come with a certificate of accomplishment. While there’s no single, industry-recognized, SEM certification, someone new to the industry can make up for a lack of experience by completing a course such as this.

As Kalena explains in the press release

Completion of one of our Certification Pathways indicates to a potential employer a graduate’s proficiency in the very latest search engine algorithms, guidelines and methodologies taught within our curriculum.

Three courses are offered, covering SEO and PPC.

Beginners Guide to Buying Links for SEO

If you’re not sure of the best way to buy links or how to judge if the link will benefit your web site, Text Link Brokers (a Pilgrim Partner) has published a Beginners Guide to Buying Links for SEO.

Here’s an example of the great advice contained in the guide…

The total number of outbound links on a page is an important factor to consider when purchasing a link. A site that has too many outbound links is not going to pass much link popularity. They are also at risk of being penalized in the search engines if the outbound links are thought to be “paid links” or are all pointing to “un-relevant” sites. On the other hand, if a site is authoritative in a particular field and naturally links to other sites in its industry, that is much different. Authoritative sites that link out to other sites are considered hubs and will provide a lot of benefit. This includes sites such as Wikipedia.org, Directory.Yahoo.com, DMOZ.com, and others.

Google Checkout Adding $10 to $30 Charity Donation

Google has announced new merchants using Google Checkout – Toys “R” Us, Babies “R” Us, Golfsmith, Linens ‘n Things among others – but more importantly, they’ve announced the addition of eight international charities.

Google will add $10 to every $30+ donation to any of the eight charities.

A nice gesture and great PR for Google Checkout.

Can Google Prove Financial Analysts Wrong?

Barron’s, the weekly financial newspaper, reportedly claimed this week that Google will see its share price take a tumble.

Barron’s said Google is overvalued because it trades at 37 times next year’s expected earnings and because its growth rate is slowing. It also noted that Google now has the 15th largest market capitalization among U.S.-traded shares, and its price-to-earnings ratio is two to three times higher that of similarly sized companies.

For the past couple of years, everyone and their mother has suggested Google stock is going to take a dive. What ends up happening? The stock soars to a $500 per share high! I’ve personally given-up predicting Google’s earnings, but you have to credit Barron’s for getting in on the linkbaiting meme – flaming a big company is a sure-fire way to attract attention. ;-)

Free Business Advice for Search Marketing Firms

Back in September, I posted the Top 10 Mistakes Search Marketing Firms Make. Since then, business coaching for SEM firms has become a large part of my consulting services. I’ve had the privilege of working with SEOmoz, We Build Pages and many other marketing agencies, looking for assistance with scaling their business, structuring their services and building a better SEM firm.

I’m going to write a follow-up article that looks at the top-10 ways to grow your search marketing firm. I have some ideas for the list already, but thought I’d get your input on what areas you’d like me to cover.

Here’s some of the ideas I have already:

  • How to price a campaign to win a client account
  • How to grow your business to 200 employees

Google Checkout Buying Market Share from PayPal

Google has deep pockets, and is certainly not afraid to use its war-chest of cash to take on PayPal. Hitwise reports Google Checkout’s $10 off $30 promotion (and the just announced $20 off $50) is helping the company to buy its way into the online payment processing market.

Its market share of visits was up 30% in the past four weeks (week ending 11/18/06 vs. week ending 10/21/06), and soon it should rank in the top 20 Google properties.

While PayPal gets 70% of its traffic from eBay, Google Checkout is casting a wider net with its partner network. Here’s where Google Checkout is getting its traffic from…