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August 23, 2006

SEO trends to watch out for

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Search Engine Guide’s Scott Buresh and Bigmouthmedia must be in cahoots because they released identical SEM trends and predictions within nine hours of each other. Kinda freaky, right? Especially since we don’t usually see posts like this for another… four months or so.

Both articles make the same five trend predictions (with slightly different wording):

  • Increased accountability from SEM agencies – As companies become in tune with the tactics necessary for optimum rankings, they will demand more from their SEOs and hold them increasingly accountable for their bottom line.
  • A rise in PPC Costs – Larger companies will pour huge budgets into PPC, forcing keyword costs to rise and pushing smaller companies out of the PPC market.
  • Increased interest in organic SEO – With no place to go, smaller companies will focus their efforts on organic SEO. Perhaps not a bad idea since, according to eMarketer, 66 percent of consumers ‘distrust’ paid search ads.
  • Continued reluctance to adopt SEM – SEG says despite search engine marketing being a “perfect fit” for companies looking to combine traditional advertising with paid ads, many are still “scared to death” of the lack of accountability and confusing metrics associated with SEM campaigns.
  • Continued focus on Google for SEO – Google will hold on to its title as The Engine to optimize for, according to Bigmouthmedia. Both predictions encourage marketers to use the studies Google conducts about its users and “piggyback” off them for use in their SEM campaigns. [We have access to Google-performed studies? Really?]

Now, I admit I’m not “expert enough” to create my own SEO predictions list, but to me, the list above looks more like a Current Trends statement than a list of predictions. If you pulled any SEM aside and asked what would happen in the industry if everything continued on its current path, those are the top five things they would rattle off. Of course, if Google has another Bigdaddy-scale update, PPC takes an unexpected turn or marketers finally realize the power of SEM, you can scrap that list in its entirety. Otherwise, all five things listed will inevitably come true. It’s like betting on a basketball game that happened two nights ago.

That being said, I do hope most of those “predictions” come true. Here’s my Search Engine Marketing Wishlist.

I hope PPC costs continue to skyrocket so companies will be forced to focus on organic SEO. Not only that, I hope companies start to adopt the Shari Thurow and Matt Bailey approach to SEO and start constructing their sites for users, not the engines. I think watching the flux in the SERPs as that change occurs would be extremely exciting.

And as much as I love my Google, I wouldn’t mind seeing another engine get full SEO approval by the industry buzz makers. Not replace Google entirely, but give it some competition. I used to hope the engine to do that would be Ask.com (I still hope that), but now I think that hole may best be filled by MSN.

MSN is starting to get my attention lately – they’ve had a very successful AdCenter launch in the U.K. and I respect how transparent they’ve been in regards to fixing problems and letting searchers know what they’re working on. I’m a sucker for the underdog.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who would like to see marketers lose that deer-in-the-headlights look that comes when someone brings up search engine marketing. SEG called search engine marketing a “still new, unproven channel to many companies” and I hope we’ll see that change as marketers become more familiar with the tactics involved in SEM and are able to track their success.

Of course, I’d also like to see the engines band together and get a handle on the click fraud situation, but we won’t even touch that.

Okay, I think I’ll stop there. Shoo! Go work on all that. Once you’re finished I’ll give you another list of things I want done. I’m a pushy little thing, aren’t I?

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