This week we proudly bring you highlights of an interview with Michael Marshall. Michael Marshall is a SEO consultant with over 19 years experience in information technology covering a wide range of specialties including: web design, software engineering, e-commerce solutions, artificial intelligence, and Internet marketing.

He has degrees in Linguistics, Philosophy and Theology and is a contributing author to SEOToday.com, the premier website for SEM professionals, and a contributor to “Building Your Business With Google for Dummies” by Brad Hill.

He’s a frequent presenter at Ultra Advanced SEO Symposiums, a meeting of select masters of the search engine marketing industry, at Search Engine Workshops and also a certified instructor at the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Search Engine Academy, an SEO certification program approved by the US educational system.

You can read the full interview here.

What are 3 SEO trends to watch in 2010?

1) Increasing complexity of sources of information in search results akin to Universal Search with Google incorporating new, video, audio etc. in normal search result listings.

2) The increasing importance of Mobile and Local Search.

3) The increasing influence of Personalization of Search.

What are 3 critical skills for any SEO professional to master?

1) Keyword Research

2) Competitive Intelligence – understanding strengths and weaknesses of competitors

3) Measuring performance through Web Analytics

You mentioned personalization of search. Can you elaborate on the impact of this on SEO?

The impact the personalization of search has on SEO should not be treated lightly. A quote from Mike Moran is worth noting here:

“Widespread personalization will doom traditional rank checking. The question won’t be ‘Does my site rank No. 1?’ but rather ‘For what percentage of searchers does my site rank No. 1’ or ‘What was my average ranking yesterday?’ . . . [I]t’s the biggest change in search marketing since paid search.”
- Mike Moran (Search is Getting Personal, Revenue January/February 2007)

Any traditional SEO methodologies or SEO Tools that depend heavily on traditional rank checking methods are similarly doomed. This means that any methods for:

1) Determining which competitors you should emulate, as well as how they should be emulated, and

2) Determining the effectiveness of your SEO efforts

that depend on traditional rank checking methods are destined for obsolescence. The overall thematic relevance of a page also becomes more important.

You also mentioned competitive intelligence research. What is SEO competitive intelligence (SEO-CI) and how could a local business with limited SEO budget use competitive intelligence research to compete against larger companies for top rankings? Would this work in ultra-competitive industries like the hotel, travel, banking and finance industries?

Competitive Intelligence is the process of determining the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors so that you can properly ascertain what the threats and opportunities are for your success in natural search against those competitors. When done properly, it can save you several months of trial and error in developing an SEO strategy, especially in very competitive industries and for very competitive keyphrases. The most accurate method would employ artificial intelligence similar to how AI is employed in multivariate analysis for optimizing landing pages with PPC.

A local business can use it to prioritize which target keyphrases are really worth going after and also to discover important components of a larger company’s SEO strategy, which of those components are most worthy of your attention and emulation, and which of those may be weaknesses that can be exploited.

Read the rest of this interview in which he covers SEO competitive intelligence and reveals the history behind his SEO software SEO Recon here.