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Search Marketing "Resolutions" for 2008

newcomb-kevin
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We're just a few weeks into 2008 now, which means there's still time to make a New Year's resolution. I asked around to some search marketing and social media marketing friends, and got quite a range of responses. So many, that I'll be sharing them in two parts. We'll share part one today, and part two tomorrow.

If you want to share your own resolutions, or discuss any of the ones shared here, feel free to join the conversation in the SEW Forums.

Q: What are your "New Year's resolutions" for search? What are your top priorities for things to address, things to change, or things to plan for in 2008?

Andrew Goodman, principal at Page Zero Media

I resolve to take a comprehensive approach to what we used to call "search" marketing, to focus on raising online visibility and reputation as search engines adapt and change themselves.

To this end, I have cancelled my consulting firm's "brief" five-year hiatus from SEO (we focus mostly on paid search) because the world of search is in a new, exciting phase that requires mature integrated marketing strategies. Now, we do "SEO 2.0." And I like hanging out with mature, integrated people!

Also to this end, we'll be implementing instructional video production for at least one client. It will be interesting to see if these types of videos, posted on YouTube, actually make it into a prominent place in a significant number of SERPs.

I resolve to apply for at least one patent related to search. This is a tricky one, so I think 2009 might be more realistic.

Finally, I resolve to attend a search conference in a warm climate, without resorting to any city whose population of slot machines outnumbers people.

Blake Suggs, account leader at Range Online Media

My New Years resolutions for search all focus on one central theme: "Transparency"

1. More transparency with regards to what search phrases are triggering the appearance of search ads (i.e. query matching).

2. More transparency into available traffic for specific sets of terms that will allow search marketers to launch with more focused campaigns.

3. More transparency on the click fraud issue. As an industry, we must continue to seek meaningful answers to questions around click validity.

The items above might mean less short-term revenue for the engines, but in the long run these changes would go a long way in transforming search into a ubiquitous online marketing tool for marketers large and small, regardless of their business model.

Dana Todd, executive VP at SiteLab International

As boring as it sounds, most of my resolutions this year are around operational issues, improving profit margins, training employees and evolving process. We've been doing some creative modification to our various processes, and this year we're focused on more fully integrating them across our clients and projects.

For example, we do a lot of web design and while we've always built in at least lightweight SEO components to our sites, we're putting a stake in the ground and upgrading our discovery phase to include much more input from search. We use keyword research not just for content ideas and file-naming, but also uncovering target audience insights and overlooked opportunities.

This means that we have to raise our prices for web development, but it's worth it for clients because they are truly leveraging search in multiple aspects and getting a unique approach to the design and information architecture phase.

We expect to see the demand for SEO and PPC to continue steadily, but customers are buying SEO in a different way these days – they're more likely to have us act as consultants and trainers, to help them through the "change management" that is required in organizations for SEO success.

We feel like the "Accenture of SEO" sometimes, which is a cool new development. PPC is one of those services that will return ultimately to the agencies, I believe, since there haven't been enough innovations in campaign management technology to allow organizations to self-manage easily with limited resources. Therefore, we expect to see a steady demand for high-service PPC campaign management as people grow discontented with their current situations.

Danielle Leitch, EVP of client strategy at MoreVisibility

Planning for:

Personalized Search and its impact on website's SEO traffic, as well as tracking and monitoring for organic positions. Specifically, if you measure progress by keywords, personalized search may skew those results or the data as a result of not showing up at all or showing up more relevant to some than others in the listings.

Focusing on the user/site visitor first and foremost, then integrating all of the other important aspects like call to actions, content, SEO friendliness, landing page quality, etc.

Build it for the user – give them what they want and a good experience, then layer in the rest.

Resolutions:

To convince advertisers to be more reliant on analytics and conversion/usability behavior, as opposed to any other measure of success or performance for their online campaigns and efforts.

Try out of the box ideas more, and not be so reliant on mainstream top-tier engines. Verticals, portals and niche engines can provide great/inexpensive traffic and I am expecting them to become a bigger driving force (in total as a group, since they are individually rather small on their own) in advertisers' budgets or marketing plans.

Things to Address:

Social Media for Kids (ok, maybe this is the mother in me speaking here vs. the agency EVP so much). They have a huge potential for advertising, given the volume, loyalty and demand generated by some of these platforms – Webkinz, TY Girls, Disney, Club Penguin (bought by Disney, Barbie, etc. How safe is that and where does the line get drawn? On the flip side, how can other companies capitalize on this if they target children/tweens or parents given the phenomena associated with this.

EDUCATING THE NEXT GENERATION/STUDENTS – I am personally making it my goal for '08 to work very hard with local colleges and universities incorporating classes "real-world" into the college of business. Those that we will hire in the future need to have solid fundamentals on interactive marketing and search – as it relates to so much of business and advertising today – regardless of your role in a company or field of interest/study. I'd love to see other industry veterans follow suit to help elevate the knowledge of future college grads and allow for ongoing education opportunities to those out in the field already.

David Berkowitz, director of emerging media & client strategy at 360i

We're planning for an even wider expansion of universal search, and a greater appreciation for what it encompasses. All of the major engines have their own take on it right now, and all of them can expand that much further.

David Wallace, CEO of SearchRank

As far as marketing sites for organic search, I'd like to find more "underground" link brokers or networks of links to take advantage of – links that are staying under Google's radar. As Google continues its war efforts against paid links, the industry as a whole needs to go underground. That means sellers of links need to be very selective in who they choose to sell to, and discrete in how they display such links.

I also plan to help our clients utilize social media/networking sites to brand, obtain links, network, attract traffic and network and/or keep an open dialogue with their customers.

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