The week in search marketing was dominated by two big stories which, almost inevitably, have a common thread through them and one that I feel certain we’ll be puzzling through for months to come.

Firstly, there’s the news that Yandex have now disposed of all keyterm-focused data, which led to a great article by eConsultancy on whether links are now dead for Yandex.

Secondly, there was Google’s release of a study (in conjunction with Ipsos MediaCT) where they claimed that search ads (that is paid search) lift brand awareness.

Now, on the face of it, this isn’t exactly shocking news – after all, search marketers (indeed all marketers) have always used PPC (and other paid advertising) to generate brand visibility and, by extension, elevate perception, reach and, the bottom line, sales.

Nevertheless, it’s another interesting articulation of Google’s redefining their business proposition as brand marketing.  A redefinition that one can see in its advocacy of authorship (through Google+, rel=author, etc) and entities (through schema.org, etc) to form a closer relationship between a site and its brand.

And when you see articles like this, discussing the possibility of a new paradigm where brand mentions could partially (if not completely) replace links as the bedrock of Google’s algorithm, it’s hard not to feel that these events are all linked (excuse the pun) and, in due course, we may really work in an industry where link building as we once knew becomes completely extinct.

Whether that ever happens or not (and we’re confident it’s a long way off, if it ever occurs), there’s no avoiding the importance that ALL search engines are placing on additional indicators of authority and relevance.  And with this in mind, we are drawn to a couple of articles that touch on practical, technical work to optimise for this brave new world.

We’ve discussed schema.org and semantic mark-up in the past and there’s absolutely no questioning the fact that early adopters will be the winners with this innovation.  Nevertheless, a lot of people may be put off by the apparent complexity involved.  Fear no longer as that complexity will be dispelled by this great article that explain the background along with some practical advice on how to implement mark-up to get a head start of your competition.

On the flip-side, if you’ve been comfortable with mark-up for a while, here’s a more in-depth read from Cyrus Sheppard at Moz on how to develop your entity strength beyond baby steps by actually understanding what search engines are looking for in terms of semantic understanding and how you can get ahead of the game by giving it to them.  It’s fascinating and thought-provoking in equal measure.

Have you started to optimise your site with rich snippets, schema mark-up and entity development?  Let us know in the comments…