Become A Complete Marketer for Search 4.0
This post stems from something SlightlyShady mentioned in his post about Where SEO and Google Will Be in the Next 5 Years“. (On a side note: SlightlyShady has his finger on the pulse and tends to very straightforward, frank conversations about the Search Marketing Industry. Moreover, I’d just like to give him a quick shout-out, say “thanks” and keep the veritas coming.)
So here’s what struck my attention in the post:
The only way to get above the map results(definitely a click killer) is to…..pay for a PPC listing. Now, SEOs are not PPC experts(largely).
It’s not far from the truth. SEOs are not PPC experts, but they should be and they could be. And, to be frank, it’s the only sure-fire way to build solid goal conversions for clients:
SEO in combination with PPC
- SEO is (in most cases) for the long-haul. Most clients come to us without optimization, without knowing what it is or how it’s done. While the rules of SEO have changed in the past 2 years (thanks to the advent of social networks and media sites), the standards remain the same:
- On-site optimization of as much content as you can effect.
- Off-site link building campaigns: Paid, Free, Corporate Partners
- New ways to generate fresh, engaging content on the website
- PPC is, in my estimation, an excellent and reliable quick strike tool. It’s for the instant impact clients’ need to have to build brand awareness and site traffic while the SEO portion builds solid content and backlinks.
- It’s my opinion that PPC spends should increase after 3 months. By that time, SEO efforts should be bearing fruit in organically, and you’ll have plenty of data to weed out the non-performers and boost the high CTR and conversion-producers. Why increase?
- Because if you do a good job on-site for your best converting keywords and long-tails, you’ll increase your Google Quality Score and be able to achieve the same position at a lower cost.
Will This Technique Matter in 3 Years?
The question is, do I really believe this is going to work anymore? For the time being, yes, I do. I think SEOs and Search Marketers have about 2 and half to 3 years before the shift happens. Danny Sullivan wrote a very extensive and informative post on SEL about Search 4.0. I think we’ve got just about that timeframe before personalized search turns SERPs and SEO on it’s head.
How To Compete After Google RE-Invents Search
And, I guess, to echo the sentiment, I think SEO will survive that semi-apocalypse. Because, as we all know, there are companies and sites that really need help, even with the basics. However, I believe it will become about each engine’s proprietary/purchased applications. For Google: FeedBurner, Local Business Center, AdWords, Reader, Base, YouTube, FriendFeed (not exactly owned by Google, but probably will be), FriendConnect, etc. I don’t expect Google’s numbers in search domination to drop anytime in the near future, more than likely never. Just look at the latest numbers (thanks to SEL)
I think the only way for Yahoo to survive is to team-up (read “be bought in a hostile takeover”) with Microsoft. And, let’s face it, Microsoft needs help with search and Paid Ads solutions. They’ve always been a “Johnny-Come-Lately” with every application (yes, even Webmaster Center and Local Live). And, while Yahoo also isn’t up to snuff on the Paid Ads, their search capability and seeming transparency (Search commands: there is a reason that we all use Yahoo! to find the true number of anything on the web) is something Microsoft needs to latch on to in order to have a snowball’s chance in hell against Google.
Right now, I’m advising my whole team to get familiar with every application Google has to offer. Know the ins and outs of each application. And as for AdWords, well, it’s taking over. My prediction is that before the year’s end, Yahoo will be delivering over 25% of Google Ads. And, two years from now, if they haven’t teamed up with Microsoft, they’ll be over 75% Google Ads. And in 3 years, Sponsored Search/Panama will be nothing but a sad memory, a failed experiment swallowed by Google.
The new way to compete, and I hate to admit it, will be GRAY SEO. Personalized search is going to force everyone to find the shadow-advantages to be the MOST RELEVANT web page in a particular niche. So that, the woman in New Mexico and the guy in Montana both see your client as the one of the most relevant pages for the search they’re conducting. To compete, Search Marketers will have to be savvy in all things, not simply SEO, because SEO as we know it today just won’t exist. It’s going to be a hybrid, a chimera of each engines’ applications.
Google AdSense: Behavioral Targeting?
Barry Schwartz posted an interesting piece on Search Engine Land today about Google submitting a patent application for behaviorally targeting PPC. Besides being intellectually stimulating, instituting behaviorally targeted PPC to users based off Google Tool Bar data and, of course through, as I talked about in Search 4.0, user login (remember, when you sign up for an account, you provide them geographic data) could have some pretty large ramifications in the paid search world.
1) Quality Score Irrelevant?
Quality Score may become irrelevant down the road. If a user continually searches in specific geographic location, then the behavioral algorithm “should” produce only ads in or around that location. Assuming the advertiser is paying the requisite amount to show in a high position, users may be going to garbage sites. Per the new regulations, Google set in motion in April (not allowing the Destination URL differ from the Display URL) it won’t be true SPAM, but for those of us who spend time optimizing landing pages for the keywords we are buying, it seems a bit ludicrous. Moreover, this seems like another way Google will start a bidding war between paid advertisers and generate higher bids (again).
2) Leveling the Playing Field Further
This is, however, better news for smaller companies and organizations struggling to keep up. Paid ads were meant to level the field for websites who were in the process of, or have yet to, SEO their site. Small sites could get the needed exposure necessary to “play ball” with the “big kids”. Grabbing more detailed information on users’ habits, it only stands to reason that smaller companies who have yet to make SEO improvements, it will allow them to be seen for valuable keywords. (Not withstanding these companies have usable and content-developed site to take advantage of this exposure) The little man gets a semi-fair shake from the big guy.
3) Users’ Privacy
It’s gone, and we’re all going to have to be ok with that. It is what is it. Google owns search, and, therefore, gets to dictate how search functions, how search collects data, and how search is displayed to users. The same is true of Search 4.0 (Personalized Search), and I didn’t hear any complaints about that from the crowd. Think of it this way: (which is how I’m pretty sure Google is thinking about it) users are getting the most, nearly in absolute, relevant results possible for that particular user. And, that’s the key phrase “for that particular user”. Google’s entire mission is to provide the most relevant results possible for each query performed by a user (not to mention making money). This fits into that mission. It’s the where the web has been for the last couple of years, and it’s definitely where it’s going: complete transparency. No more secrets (thank you Ben Kingsley). I’m not too worried about my privacy, everything is available out there anyway, if you know the right people and know where to look. The web is evolving once again and, once again, it’s our job as SEOs and Search Marketers to help our clients understand it, compete in it, and win in it.