Search engine optimization (SEO) is a rapidly changing and exciting arena. In fact, the competition is heating up as companies awaken to a universe of marketing opportunities—providing their customers can find them, that is!

Where is SEO heading? What are the trends and new opportunities? And what are the real issues facing the industry?

To get some answers, MarketingProfs recently convened a Thought Leaders Summit with some of the best minds in the field of search engine optimization. In the 90-minute-long session, I (as the panel leader) tapped into the collective wisdom of panelists Cam Balzer (Performics), Christine Churchill (KeyRelevance), Mike Grehan (Smart Interactive), Ammon Johns (Propellernet), Brian Klais (Netconcepts), Barry Lloyd (MakeMeTop), Ian McAnerin (McAnerin Networks), Alan Rimm-Kaufman (Rimm-Kaufman Group), Eric Ward ( and Jill Whalen (High Rankings).

This is the first in a two-part series on the key points our experts made about SEO. Think of it as the next best thing to being at an industry conference that would likely cost upwards of $2,000 to attend.

Make a solid business case for SEO

It may be time to introduce your boss to the concept of search engines as your company's virtual sales force.

But without a solid business case, it is nearly impossible to push an SEO agenda within your organization. First, you need to convince your colleagues and Web site stakeholders (IT, merchandising, marketing people and copywriters) of the importance of the initiative they are going to undertake. And there's nothing like a few statistics to get them excited!

Estimating market size is a good place to start. In the UK, for instance, the Department of Trade and Industry reported that about 16 billion pounds was spent online in the third quarter of 2004. That's something like 13% of all business sales conducted as a result of someone finding information on a Web site.

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image of Stephan Spencer

Stephan Spencer is the founder of Science of SEO and an SEO expert, author, and speaker.

LinkedIn: Stephan Spencer

Twitter: @sspencer