The search engine marketing industry is consistently evolving, sometimes at a pace that makes it hard to believe that search engine marketing services can stay on top of all the latest developments. The one constant for search engine marketing firms, and for the industry in general, is change—usually for the better, sometimes for the worse, but almost always significant.
The industry is not for the faint-hearted or those who abhor change. However, savvy search engine marketing firms try to look ahead to anticipate trends. Here are my predictions about which issues search engine marketing services will face in the short term.
More Accountability Demanded from Search Engine Marketing Firms
Search engine marketing firms that use tactics designed to trick the engines into showing results that aren't directly addressing the search query will struggle, as more companies begin to look at the larger goals that lead them to investigate search engine marketing services in the first place. The "traffic-centric" mindset will evolve as companies begin to demand accountability from search engine marketing firms in terms of bottom line increases.
Ranking increases delivered by search engine marketing services will be questioned if they do not lead to significant traffic increases, and traffic increases will be questioned if there is no subsequent increase in business generated from the website. This is a good thing for quality search engine marketing firms, since the "snake-oil" practitioners that have given the industry a bad name will never be given serious consideration by any company that does its homework in the vendor selection process.
Rising PPC Costs and Increasing PPC Frustration
As larger companies with huge budgets continue to jump into the pay per click (PPC) arena, costs will continue to rise. Average PPC costs increased 37% from 1Q05 to 1Q06, according to DoubleClick's Performics 50 Search Trend Report. These well-funded companies will use PPC as a branding tool as much as a sales tool, which will squeeze out many of the current smaller advertisers.
In fact, the top 10 PPC advertising companies, based on the number of PPC impressions, include such names as eBay, NextTag, Vonage, Time Warner, Orbitz, Target, and Yahoo, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. More large companies will continue to join the fray, many of them throwing ROI out the window and bidding high prices for desirable keyphrases for the sake of branding.
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