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Old 05-16-2005   #1
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Arrow SEM Industry Biggest Growing Pains

What do you say are our Search Engine Marketing industry BIGGEST growing pains? Why?

Open forum, open thoughts, anything goes. Please be specific.
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Old 05-16-2005   #2
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Exclamation

Excellent new thread, Nacho!

Top of my head now and before the water keeps flooding my bathroom Sunday night, (yeah, it sucks here) let see...

1. How about the need for this SEM/SEO industry to reach out IRs so more professionals get better educated and trained without becoming rocket scientists? As is now, both sides have a blurred vision of the other. I myself am in a mission to minimize this divide, caused in part by this industry growing pains.

2. How about showing mover and shakers that there is a need for more advanced track sections at SES?

3. How about listening to the cries of well intentioned attendees of "please no more recycling of presentation material or same old, same old" at SES?

In my opinion the biggest growing pain for some members of this industry is themselves. They need to get with the program and accept what no longer works or what should be phase out for good, from SES conferences or from the way pseudo professional organizations are operated. I believe the time has come that reclycling old numbers, stat graphics or newsletter material no longer do the trick.

Another growing pain I see is when bunches of marketers try to guide this industry via these pseudo-organizations, but that comes with the territory and their own vested interests. My two cents.


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Last edited by orion : 05-16-2005 at 12:46 PM.
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Old 05-16-2005   #3
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I really don't see much of a growing pain. Do there have to be a pain? Is this some US cultural thing I just don't get?

Honestly, it's like asking: What is the biggest pain of winning a million? Off course there might be pains, such as the burden of carying all the money down to the bank but besides that I personally wouldn't feel to painfull about the million.

To me, growing pains is something big corporations have because they put themself up for crazy growth rate - smaller companies just go with the flow and enjoy the ride.

If you want to grow so fast that it hurts then thats your choice
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Old 05-16-2005   #4
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OK, so I'll bite:

Quote:
How about showing mover and shakers that there is a need for more advanced track sections at SES?
That's the biggest problem? We have advanced sessions every day, entire tracks of them. Any specific topics, feel free to post here, though the best advice is to send me email. It's right up there on the site, in the How To Speak page, for more info and timing. I'm working on the next agenda this week. Since I'm a pretty big mover and shaker with the show, that's an easy one to scratch off the problem list.

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How about listening to the cries of well intentioned attendes of "please no more recycling of presentation material or same old, same old" at SES?
I'm at all the SES events in the US, and I haven't felt there's been a lot of recycling at all. I certainly haven't been inundated with attendee crys like you're suggesting, and believe me, I'd hear them.

We do repeat a number of session each time. These are generally "evergreen" sessions aimed at beginners, where the content doesn't change that much because the underlying facts don't. But even with some of these sessions, I often shake them up after a bit and bring in new speakers or reseat the topic to spur new ideas. As always, I'm open to hear more from anyone who's been at the show.

Quote:
In my opinion the biggest growing pain for some members of this industry is themselves. They need to get with the program and accept what no longer work or what should be phase out for good, from SES conferences or from the way pseudo professional organizations are operated. I believe the time has come that reclycling old numbers, stat graphics or newsletter material no longer do the trick.
So I don't see that as a big problem, frankly. I haven't seen much of it at all. What stat graphics? What numbers? Often times, we haven't had many stats to cite at all. One nice thing is that we are finally getting some good, new research on search behavior that's giving some new things to be cited.

The biggest problem in my view remains the SEM industry's reputation. We hvae a bad one. We have search engines that one the one hand want to partner with us but on the other suggest we're evil. We have people who demonize the entire industry while at the same time then decry the fact they can't find a "good" SEO when they need help. We then rip ourselves apart trying to discuss what "standards" we should have because in the process, we then try to devide up into "good" and "bad" in a world where it's often very gray. But we've already had a discussion on this in the past, and I don't know that the issues have changed much since then.
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Old 05-16-2005   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nacho
What do you say are our Search Engine Marketing industry BIGGEST growing pains?
When mainstream corporate marketing is finally fully plugged into SEO.

So far, SEO has been an industry that appears pushed by entrepenuers and the enterprising small business - but once the corporate sector has SEO in its grasp, there's not a chance in hell either would be able to keep up and compete without extremely good technical/programming skills, or very significant funding to purchase such skills.

At such a time, most webmaster SEO opportunities as we know them will be effectively dead. We are on the last of the low-hanging fruit.

2c.
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Old 05-16-2005   #6
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I agree, the biggest growing pain for the industry still remains to be its reputation.

There remains to be companies out there, large and small, that are tricking their clients. I get phone calls all the time and I am horrified by what misinformation is out there.

The industry needs a better rep. But to get there, we need to weed out the unethical SEO companies. I believe that is one of SEO Consultant's goals.
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Old 05-16-2005   #7
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SEM growing pains

I think the biggest areas of growing pain for the SEM industry are:

1. Lack of competition - it's Google & Yahoo right now for paid search, and their duopoly means that not nearly as much innovation happens.

2. Poor interface - search may be the best way to find what we're looking for, but linear search results are not the ideal format. Maybe it's Groxis, maybe it's something no one's thought of, but I think we need to get unstuck from linear search results if the industry's going to get beyond the ~2% conversion rates we're at today.
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Old 05-16-2005   #8
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Exclamation

Quote:
Originally Posted by dannysullivan
That's the biggest problem?
No, is not the biggest problem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dannysullivan
Often times, we haven't had many stats to cite at all. One nice thing is that we are finally getting some good, new research on search behavior that's giving some new things to be cited.
Statement was done in a general sense, not just SES. I agree with the second part, "we are finally getting..."

Thanks, God.


Quote:
Originally Posted by rustybrick
I agree, the biggest growing pain for the industry still remains to be its reputation.
Well put, rusty.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rustybrick
There remains to be companies out there, large and small, that are tricking their clients. I get phone calls all the time and I am horrified by what misinformation is out there.

The industry needs a better rep. But to get there, we need to weed out the unethical SEO companies. I believe that is one of SEO Consultant's goals.

I cannot say it better.

Orion

Last edited by orion : 05-16-2005 at 12:55 PM.
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Old 05-16-2005   #9
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Some other issues that are growing pains:

1. Organization of the industry is fractured and we have no government/industry/trade representation

2. Public knowledge of the industry is very low and bad reputations are widespread.

3. Mis-appropriated penalties (302 hijacking, dup content, spam reporting, etc.) are still a big problem and one that seems to get worse and worse.
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Old 05-16-2005   #10
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Well...

Remember not to shoot the messenger...

I think the biggest problem is in effect the "brain drain". With a few noteable exceptions [most of whom post here] its hard to earn what could be called big money as an SEM/SEO. Those with the talent move as close to the point of profit as they can get, for some that will mean putting their money where their mouth is and starting their own ecom businesses. For others that means partnering with companies on a cpa/revenue/profit share basis. Impo I think the newer blood coming into the game has too much focus on the PPC aspect to effectively replace the organic "Giants" lost to the industry.

>So far, SEO has been an industry that appears pushed by entrepenuers and the enterprising small business - but once the corporate sector has SEO in its grasp, there's not a chance in hell either would be able to keep up and compete

I don't think I've ever disagreed with anything as much as that statement, I'm 180% from that view.
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Old 05-16-2005   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NFFC
>So far, SEO has been an industry that appears pushed by entrepenuers and the enterprising small business - but once the corporate sector has SEO in its grasp, there's not a chance in hell either would be able to keep up and compete

I don't think I've ever disagreed with anything as much as that statement, I'm 180% from that view.
Maybe I should have been clearer, and said SEO "as it is now" in general terms. There are certainly many opportunities for entrepeneurs and enterprising small business to work in and around SEO for quite some time to come - but the days of the small webmaster being able to SEO their way through the crowds so easily as fast fading opportunities.
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Old 05-16-2005   #12
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Biggest problems within the industry are reputation, over abundance of information that makes SEO appear "easy" (it is... but it isn't). Beyond that I find the in-fighting and backbiting of other SEOs absolutely horrendous. We may not all agree with another's tactics and many issues are very deservingly of being discussed, but the manner in which much of that discourse takes place. Some of it is in the open, some is in the back rooms of forums where a person has no way to defend their statements and/or actions.

I often get the impression that the SEO community is a prison environment. You've got to find a "hat" to hang out with in order to find protection .
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Old 05-16-2005   #13
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>What do you say are our Search Engine Marketing industry BIGGEST growing pains?<

The lack of business acumen among search engine marketers. Far too many people claiming to be professional SEO's have no educational background or experience in any kind of marketing or business.

There is still a perception clinging to the industry that there is gold in them thar hills if you just learn to be an SEO. This forum is undoubtedly the most visited on the web by real SEO by anyone's definition of the term. Yet compare the threads about SEO ethics to the threads about investment, cost per action, estimating production times, scheduling, unemployment taxes, FICA, (anyone even know that what that stands for?)

The days are numbered, not for the search engine marketer who understands business, client acquisition, public relations, cost of goods and return, but for the sitting up all night in their underwear SEO, smoking three packs a day and bragging on a forum one day that he is number 2 for a VERY competitive term and crying on another the next day about being dropped by Yahoo when their site is obviously the best.

The more we as an industry learn about business and THEN search engine business specifically, the faster the industry will grow. Or more accurately perhaps, evolve.

>The industry needs a better rep<

That is true. But it is true in the sense that EVERY industry needs a better rep.

>But to get there, we need to weed out the unethical SEO companies. I believe that is one of SEO Consultant's goals.<

That is NOT true. It's kind of like saying to give lawyers a better rep, we need to get rid of the bad ones. Eventually there would be no lawyers. (I'm not saying that's a bad thing but the same could be said of SEO's, whatever that is).

If we as a group, set out to improve the industry by weeding out the unethical companies, (I swore I would never use that phrase again), surely we can all see the ultimate outcome. Everyone is unethical except you and me and I got my doubts about you. We can't all be doug, thank God.

Just as an attempt to get everyone to consider a different approach, a different mind set so to speak, what if we looked at it from the other side of the fence. Instead of trying to "weed out" anyone, why not try to elevate and praise those of merit. Where are the links to the SEO who donated computers to a homeless shelter? Where are the ezine stories of the SEO who saved a child from the burning building? Why can't I name last years winner of the internet humanitarian award, SEO division?

What if there were an organization pledged to support this industry who actually lived up to that pledge by
#1 Hiring a competent, public relations person.

I believe the org doesn't need a lawyer. It doesn't need an accountant. It doesn't even need a webmaster until AFTER there is someone qualified in the field of public relations to set an objective and develop a strategy.

I'm not a PR expert, but I can just about guarantee that anyone that is would never advise you that improving your rep for being good by trying to "weed out" the bad is a good idea. I think they would advise that it is a recipe for disaster. History would seem to bear me out.

Consider this.

Do you want to see this industry's reputation improve? Then find those to clearly identify as SEO and then promote what is good about about them.

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Old 05-16-2005   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rustybrick
I agree, the biggest growing pain for the industry still remains to be its reputation.

There remains to be companies out there, large and small, that are tricking their clients. I get phone calls all the time and I am horrified by what misinformation is out there.

The industry needs a better rep. But to get there, we need to weed out the unethical SEO companies. I believe that is one of SEO Consultant's goals.
none of my comments here are directed at any particular individual, it is more of my own little rant view of the issue

my contention remains that you cant have an official central body without selfish powergrabs at the center of it. selfish powergrabs will gravitate in that direction.

you can't filter out the bad stuff unless you have a standard. most standards based marketing concepts tend to attach themselves to some arbitrary guidelines that state I am good and everyone else is crap.

within SEO there is also some arbitrary set of ethics inside some heads that say you must place the engines ahead of yourself and your clients.

like a chameleon that which is shady / deceptive mutates to look as though it uses marketing techniques that people with honest intentions do. if you are a lying piece of scum anyway then its pretty easy to lie a bit more or change your marketing speak to match whatever is standard in the marketplace.

you can't filter out the crap.

people need to be taught the value and how to find signs of quality.

filtration among marketers and the web is not a good combination IMHO. how much bickering would you do if someone stated that you did not make the cut and their opinion was o so important? look at what happened w a promenant seo firm when google delisted them recently.

Quote:
Originally Posted by I, Brian
Maybe I should have been clearer, and said SEO "as it is now" in general terms. There are certainly many opportunities for entrepeneurs and enterprising small business to work in and around SEO for quite some time to come - but the days of the small webmaster being able to SEO their way through the crowds so easily as fast fading opportunities.
on the same token some people use SEO exclusively and get screwed by that. in the long run the web will still be a network of people. individuals can be more remarkable and original than most large companies because they lack corporate guidance that prevents originality, etc.

now the web is not just a group of blogs (so nobody yell at me for this), but other than a few wikis or forums

blogs (and the conversations they hold) are about the closest thing to the read write web. how many fantastic corporate blogs can you name?

most of the people with blogs do not do much in the lines of seo, yet I see a good number of PR6 and PR7 blogs that have thousands of subscribers.

companies come together and fall apart. just the various fast acting direct marketing channels and speed at which ideas spread across the web means that smaller and faster acting organizations can likely hand mega corps their lunch day in and day out.
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Old 05-16-2005   #15
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I should have been more detailed in my response. By "weeding out" I meant, separate out, build a division, sort but not filter out, erase or delete unethical SEOs.

I knew it would be interpreted as such, and I knew I should have worded it better.

And to be honest, I was actually thinking about the legal profession when I wrote that. You can not delete, filter out, erase all lawyers that give the legal industry a bad rep. But you can separate out the best from the worse by giving awards, certification and so on (that is why I said "I believe that is one of SEO Consultant's goals.").

So its more of a sorting function over a filtering function, I believe.
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Old 05-16-2005   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seobook
none of my comments here are directed at any particular individual, it is more of my own little rant view of the issue
Very diplomatic of you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by seobook
my contention remains that you cant have an official central body without selfish powergrabs at the center of it. selfish powergrabs will gravitate in that direction.
You can try, like democracy tries. Its not perfect.

Quote:
Originally Posted by seobook
you can't filter out the bad stuff unless you have a standard. most standards based marketing concepts tend to attach themselves to some arbitrary guidelines that state I am good and everyone else is crap.
within SEO there is also some arbitrary set of ethics inside some heads that say you must place the engines ahead of yourself and your clients.
Back to the search engines court, imo.

Quote:
Originally Posted by seobook
people need to be taught the value and how to find signs of quality.

filtration among marketers and the web is not a good combination IMHO. how much bickering would you do if someone stated that you did not make the cut and their opinion was o so important? look at what happened w a promenant seo firm when google delisted them recently.
I agree, that is why people like us, in this thread, are here. Teach the people.
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Old 05-16-2005   #17
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SEO History, Causes Current Industry Growing Pains

The good news is that companies are finally realizing the importance of search engines and SEO (I should know, I had multiple companies fighting for me as I accepted a SEO position with a large web company recently), plus search engines are getting better at sniffing out blackhat SEO tactics.

It seems like the industry is still haunted by the past. Many people think of SEO as a shady business - borderline illegal. We all know the difference between shady SEO and good-intentioned SEO, but the general pubic doesn't. In another thread, I was discussing what my title should be - I decided to have both an SEO title and a non-SEO title because of the bad rap SEO gets.

It seems like SEO has been cleaned up lately, mostly due to the search engines making improvements, but there are still things going on out there that give us a bad rap: disguising pay-per-clicks as SEO, browser search downloads, etc.

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Old 05-16-2005   #18
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I agree with Bob that SEO needs competent public releations. Every industry has bad elements, but only a truly bad industry defines itself by those elements.

One way to weed out the incompetent and inefectual is to better understand and address the attitudes and concerns of the *customers*. From my experience, most customers don't care about tags, positions, rules, guidelines, spammers, hats etc. They care about their business and how to grow it.

SEO is in the marketing and advertising business. Once SEO talks the language of those worlds, it will grow up.

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Old 05-16-2005   #19
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Shrinking ROI due to competition. In a galaxy far, far away, with a minimal amount of effort and funding, you could get solid rankings. Now, the competition is fierce and SEO is much tougher.

At some point it will stop making monetary sense for many website owners. If the same $2000/Month spent on PPC Ads and/or Other Marketing yields the same results as retaining an SEO company, having programmers change a site, building in bound links....Why not just buy Ads? You can scale that a lot easier with more certainty and less effort. IMO...It is getting close.
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Old 05-16-2005   #20
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I sympathize with the problem of SEO hucksters but this problem is not unique to SEO/M. Many business segments have their share of nefarious creatures. Look at the vitamin business. Look how many miracle weight loss pills there are and how many infomercials and all the spam you get about supplements. Yet, there are many brands that are well respected and the industry as a whole does about $35b a year in sales. There will always been the virgin who can get ripped off but as the industry grows I cant help but see it become more legitimized.

Something I feel will also help to fuel legitimacy, as happens in all maturing industries is specialization. Today many of the SEO/M firms are jacks-of-all trades, organic, ppc, conversion, page design, etc. Again, I will use the vitamin industry as an analogy. Early on the first vitamin brands carried every product. But as the industry matured businesses were established to focus on niches like sports supplements, herbal remedies, etc. The legal and insurance fields are also service professions that I think are analogous. This benefits both the industry as a whole and more importantly the consumer. There will always be the three hundred pound gorillas that do everything and get some great clients. But organic, ppc and conversion are separate disciplines and each with their own unique areas of expertise, research and experiences.

This leads me into my personal experience. My focus this past year has been specialized on search engine user experience and how it impacts conversion and other metrics. This small but important niche is itself a full-time job and learning experience with loads of testing and user research to be done. Even after a year Im just scratching the surface of where this discipline will go. Whats important though is that the desire for this information is fueled by clients and continues to grow at an astounding pace. Im not trying to be self-serving with this example but using it to express a point.

As long as the industry continues to react and serve the demands and expectations of customers it will be seen as legitimate and it will continue to prosper. Lord knows if there is any industry thats going to face rapid change over the foreseeable future it is the Internet. And nothing fuels the Internet like Search. We all reside at the cutting edge of it and businesses will continue to need our knowledge base.

So the biggest growing pains I think will just be managing the growth of the industry by providing clear understanding and expectations of the various disciplines that make up SEO/M to customers. As long we provide research and testing that can support our recommendations and results that support our research we will continue to be both legitimate and prosperous.
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