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Old 10-24-2006   #1
Chris Boggs
 
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Arrow Did-it President Takes a Shot at SEO

It seems as if the frog is getting teeth, especially in the wake of recent trends indicating SEO's return to prominence, as paid keyword prices escalate.

Did-it's President, David Pasternack, has some strong comments about SEO in today's DMNews article Troubled times for SEO firms. Did-it does not have an SEO offering, to my knowledge. However, many of Dave's statements in the article do make sense. He states that SEO is essentially comprised of the "same roux," to paraphrase, and that sites simply need to have good content and linking. OK that does make sense, but it isn't as easy as he makes it sound, in my opinion.

After comparing some SEO's to would-be Jedi's, Dave postulates:
Quote:
Unlike Paid Search, in which it's a requisite to continually monitor and optimize one's campaign in order to navigate through a dynamic auction-based environment, SEO is a job that is essentially a one-time task, not a continuing responsibility requiring the services of an outside firm.
Even though Dave supports the statement by saying that SEO is essentially front loaded, I am sorry, but this is far too sweeping of a generalization to really be considered a valid argument. In my experience some sites will require well more than a year's worth of legitimate SEO, and the other extreme can set it and forget, if they are in a very small niche. Some sites have so much content being changed and added that it makes sense to make sure it is all continuously optimized and that someone is helping to push links to it.

I'll let others read the article and add to the comments. I do not want anyone to think that this is an attack on Dave or Did-it, I greatly respect Did-it and serve on the BOD of SEMPO with Kevin Lee, another of Did-it's strong leaders. This is only my 2 cents...

Last edited by Chris Boggs : 10-24-2006 at 02:38 PM. Reason: fix spelling :)
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Old 10-24-2006   #2
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It's a classic PR trick which has been used for decades. Be negative towards a competitive/threatening service in order to increase demand for your own.

Not saying this is the same, although here's a quote from a BBC TV show from a purely design and seo company:
Quote:
..."Marketers can pay to be in the right hand side of the Google page. That's paid advertising, also known as pay-for-click,"...
..."However, the ideal place to be is in the centre of the search results, and the way to achieve that is through search engine optimisation. To optimise your site so it's as highly visible to search engines as possible requires a number of different skills - editing content, adding links, etc."...
It's not bad mouthing PPC, but if the centre of results in the ideal place to be, surely the right hand side is not an ideal place to be? It could also be trying to spark up strong feelings, 2 polar opposite points of views are perfect for an interesting Search conference debate. Anyone fancy putting Did-it up on a big screen in front of 100+ people interested or working in search?

Maybe I'm wrong?



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Old 10-24-2006   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evilgreenmonkey
... It could also be trying to spark up strong feelings, 2 polar opposite points of views are perfect for an interesting Search conference debate...
Rob I have to say that one of our main pushes, since we do work both sides, is for a holistic view of search. It is all shelf space, right, left, center, or bottom. Sophisticated search marketing, in my opinion, incorporates Paid, SEO, PI, Feeds, and is even moving towards Social Media Marketing / Optimization and other "Web 2.0" activities. This does not mean I am advocating that a single vendor has to accomplish all these tasks. Not many shops have the infrastructure and technology to support all those tasks.

I have to agree that this is a preemptive aggressive stance, because the writing is on the wall: many companies are going to be focusing next year on SEO to the tune of tripling budgets, etc…, possibly partially at the expense of Paid Search. The conferences this "season" have shown me that many more people are now listening to SEO topics and trying to better understand them.
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Old 10-24-2006   #4
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"Unlike Paid Search, in which it's a requisite to continually monitor and optimize one's campaign in order to navigate through a dynamic auction-based environment, SEO is a job that is essentially a one-time task, not a continuing responsibility requiring the services of an outside firm."

As Chris says surely that is a very generalised comment. My own SEO campaigns (as well as PPC) rely on regular monitoring and optimisation in order to ensure that the good positions we currently occupy remain as that, and continue to mature.

Given the mechanisms are different, the fact still remains, that industry does not stand still and as such whether it be PPC or SEO, surely you need to continue to monitor and optimise in both faccets in order to be successful.
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Old 10-24-2006   #5
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You can always break something down to the 'lowest common denominator' and make it sound really easy peasy...

Quote:
These (SEO) principles are publicly known, and at root are very simple: first, have great, relevant content that incorporates the core keywords driving your business, design your site in a way that can be easily parsed by search spiders, and have a strategy for gaining high-quality, relevant, inbound links.
You could equally say
Quote:
These (SEM) principles are publicly known, and at root are very simple: first, have a credit card (preferably 2). Then brainstorm some phrases that describe your business. Incorporate these core keywords into simple text ads. Associate the selected appropriate keywords with the appropriate ad, and link each ad to the appropriate page on your website. Measure, rinse, analyse, repeat
I'm sure you could use this approach to describe most things.
Quote:
These (flying a jumbo jet) principles are publicly known, and at root are very simple: first, you take off, then you fly to the designated destination, then you land the plane back on the ground, wheels first.


Disclaimer - we do both SEO and SEM. Almost nothing is ever as easy as it appears. And usually - it takes a great deal of skill & expertise to make most things look easy....
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Old 10-24-2006   #6
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<edit>
Damn it, my one chance to be condescending and I misspelt his name when Googling! (well actually I copied CB's spelling )

Thanks Chris_D for saving what's left of my dignity
</edit>

Last edited by evilgreenmonkey : 10-24-2006 at 02:22 PM.
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Old 10-24-2006   #7
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Competition drives both SEO and SEM

There are many reasons why SEO is not a one-time task. But the one that should be most obvious to a paid search vendor is competition. Competitor activity requires bid adjustments on the paid side to stay visible and keep traffic flowing, and content/linking/PR adjustments on the natural side.

Kinda obvious
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Old 10-24-2006   #8
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Quote:
one of our main pushes, since we do work both sides, is for a holistic view of search.
This is spot on.
The bottom line is that we as SEMs need to keep on top of all marketing activities and never gravitate to one just because we like to do that best. Depending on your business/products/services one may be more effective than the other. We view it as a portfolio within which we weight our investment of time into the activities that have the highest return and the highest level of control. Just like investing there is one constant - TIME. In our case PPC offers the most control, highest return and we can change tactics very quickly thus waste little time. But we do have a long term time investment strategy in SEO. For now SEO has come easily for us, which may simply be a side effect of our deep, ever changing, relevant content and a set of aged domains.

Looking forward we are attacking social media with PPC and SEO campaigns.

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Old 10-24-2006   #9
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SEO is a job that is essentially a one-time task, not a continuing responsibility requiring the services of an outside firm.
Only true for a very small fraction of sites. If a site is in a niche industry, does not change by adding new content or enhancing old and does not face much competition then yes, SEO could be a one time task.

However that is typically not the case, at least in my almost 10 years of doing this. There is competition, new content that may be added, old content that may be improved, site redesigns, even changes in the way people search.

That is not to mention SEO firms that see beyond simple positioning in organic SERPs and are looking at things like site traffic, where does it come from, what converts, what doesn't, what can be improved, etc.

The title is also a bit misleading - "Troubled times for SEO firms." Not only are we doing quite well and growing, most of my friends I know in this industry have more work than they know what to do with. If SEO firms are hurting, I'm am unaware of who they are.
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Old 10-24-2006   #10
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*SEO is a job that is essentially a one-time task*

For most "normal" sites I'd have to agree that's probably all that's needed, these monthly "refreshers" some people insist on can be a bit of a con, IMO...
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Old 10-24-2006   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glengara
For most "normal" sites I'd have to agree that's probably all that's needed, these monthly "refreshers" some people insist on can be a bit of a con, IMO...
In the case of monthly resubmission services, you're totally correct as it makes no difference at all (unless it's the first request, and even then the engines have probably already found the site). If I was going to market a site properly however, I would personally perform monthy or bi-weekly competitor analysis, link baiting, traffic building, click path analysis etc etc.
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Old 10-24-2006   #12
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You may deal with more competitive areas EGM, but after the initial work and some further tweaking I'm usually happy to cut the umbilical after 3 months...
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Old 10-25-2006   #13
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Find Barry's (Rustybrick) thoughts here: http://www.seroundtable.com/archives/006509.html
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Old 10-25-2006   #14
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This again goes along the lines of what the hell is an seo..

Is it a consultant who DOSEN'T KNOW HTML css etc..
Or
Is it a webmaster who controls a site(s) in regards to the promotion side in respect to search engines..

ok shoot my down ... waiting ...

Just imho..
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Old 10-25-2006   #15
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What?

Talk about what you know. Pasternack has clearly exposed his (Did-It's) lack of knowlege of the search space as a whole.

SEO is as dynamic as PPC. I know. I've done them both extensively and in the highest competitive arenas. SE algos are always changing. Competitors are always adjusting their strategies. Blogs, microsites, affiliates, spammers grow like weeds taking up valuable SERP real estate. Link building alone is a constant practice. Positions change daily for many results and across data centers.

I could easily make a counter argument that it is troubled times for SEM firms. The big ad agencies are gaining traction and budget. Most SEMs are still not profitable. Turnover is huge issue. Automation through bid managment and APIs continue to gain a foothold meaning technology could render SEM firms dead in 5 years...but I don't want to take this thread in another direction.

They both are a lot of work and require great skill to do well. As mentioned they should be strategized together to get the best results from search. But to belittle the practice of SEO is just stupid.
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Old 10-25-2006   #16
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There are Several Points of Contention

Those that actually do SEO / SEM for a living and who actually make a living from it will find this article depicts some fundamental misunderstandings about this business.

“[…] SEO is a job that is essentially a one-time task, not a continuing responsibility requiring the services of an outside firm.”

To each his own, but some might say following up, measuring and refining where necessary is in order.

Granted, the services of an outside firm may not be required but there are few things worse in this business then having pseudo onsite experts implementing strategies that amount to nothing and 6 months to a year later the company realizes their sites rankings in the results pages have improved very little.

I find this sentence very telling of the author’s comprehension,

“SEO remains a crucial task that must be executed before, not after, one begins to conduct paid search campaigns.”

There are many experts who have differing opinions. Why would you execute an SEO campaign before having a full understanding for which keywords convert best for the business you’re in?

Perhaps SEO is not “Rocket Science” then again not many things are. Attend four sessions a day for the complete week at a Search Engine Strategies conference and you will walk away seeing only the tip of the iceberg. Those that believe SEO is a “Fix-it-Once” task only have an ice cube of an idea.

Although I will say he is correct with the fact more firms will continue to “in-source” do to the wide availability of knowledge in this industry. The problem is this wide availability spawns competition and the majority of SEO services are cookie cutter.

This will lead the way to performance based / rev-share service offerings.
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Old 10-25-2006   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShandyKing
This will lead the way to performance based / rev-share service offerings.
Rev-sharing is happening all the time and has been for many years!..
I've found many startups (small ones) that agree to the likes of 25% commision.. Welcome to the world of new businesses...


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Old 10-25-2006   #18
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Just from a KW research standpoint alone I use both SEO and PPC. PPC can give me fast, relevant keyword research within days (occasionally hours) that can take much, much longer with SEO.

But PPC can only help you if you know all your keywords and the ones that you don't know are covered by broad match.

There has been many a time where I've discovered really good keywords I would have NEVER thought of in my logs due to SEO efforts.

PPC only works if you know what the customer is looking for. SEO can sometimes connect you with people who are not sure what they want until they find you. To ignore that entire group of people is just shooting yourself in the foot, IMO.

And let's not forget the issue of organic traffic being free, which a lot of PPC-only companies try to bury their collective heads in the sand over.

I have very few clients who will turn down free customers with no possibility of click fraud. Actually, I have none.

I also have very few clients that think the instant rankings/traffic and measurable results PPC gives you are a bad thing.

You can rely on one or the other (and sometimes are forced to), but if you go up against a competitor that is running the race on two legs (SEO and PPC) while you are hopping along on one, don't be surprised if you lose the race, and don't complain about it being "unfair".

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Old 10-25-2006   #19
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SEM firms dying?

Jonathan Mendez -

good points re: the arguable impending death of SEM agencies. There is a growing trend wherein more and more client side marketers are handling their own PPC and sometimes SEO campaigns. When I was at SES San Jose in August, it was a marked difference from say 2 years ago when the bulk of people were agency and vendor folk; in SJ this year I'd say client-side marketers were about 50%+ of the audience.

That being said, I don't know that SEM agencies are on the way to dying. Yes - to your points, profitability is always a challenge, bid management tools are becoming commoditized so it's no longer enough to say "our technology is the best," and turnover... oh boy, employees are headed to the clients & big ad agencies in droves! ha

Still, I think there will always be a place for the agencies. (no I don't work at one btw.) Big companies won't necessarily be taking search in-house anytime soon. Do you see GM managing their own SEM? Some larger companies who spend a lot in PPC or need SEO help but don't do much offline work (I can't think of an example now though) won't need to hire a full-service ad agency, just an SEM or online agency. There are also the med-size advertisers whose paid search and SEO may be just a little too much to handle in-house and who also love the service provided by SEM firms.

Let's face it, I'd say there is enough business out there for all of us (consultants, SEM firms, large agencies, tool vendors). It's kinda like when I was getting into real estate investing during the real estate boom in SoCal in the past few years. It's kind of intimidating when you see all the competition (e.g. other investors, other agencies). However, the work and the deals are there, you just have to work harder to get it! Heck, there are 300K (?) PPC advertisers on Google alone, and how many Web sites in the world all jockeying for placement for their golden keywords? Go get 'em!

edited to say:
(oh wait I think I did just take the thread in another direction, in spite of what Jonathan's post said re: not wanting to do that....)
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Old 10-25-2006   #20
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Quote:
“[…] SEO is a job that is essentially a one-time task, not a continuing responsibility requiring the services of an outside firm.”
While I'm on a roll, I'd like to address this.

I've taken on lots of clients that previously had PPC campaigns and complained about them. Why?

Because they set them to "fire and forget". People who don't understand PPC, like people who don't understand SEO, think that they can just set things up and go. I've seen lots of PPC accounts that were basically on auto-pilot - they set up the keywords, ads and bids, set up automatic payments with credit cards, and then never really paid attention to it ever again.

In some cases, it actually worked. Probably the same cases where doing SEO on a site only once works.

But on a competitive level, you need to do ongoing work and analysis to stay ahead. Regardless of the competition you find yourself in.

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