Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which is a part of Search Engine Marketing (SEM), has gotten a lot of flack with some, such as Ken Krogue, claiming that it is dead. While I do not agree with that overly dramatic statement – I do think that SEO has become a bit of a skeleton (I guess pairing SEO with the visual of a skeleton doesn’t make it appear alive, but what would you do without a spine?). SEOMOZ puts it best, “SEO allows webmasters to provide “clues” that the engines can use to understand content.” and “without [it], many website remain invisible to search engines.” But if SEO is no longer enough, then what is? Some would say SEM, but I dont think that’s enough either.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is becoming very popular. This is most likely because marketers realize its worth. According to this article by Larry Kim, “clicks on paid search listings beat out organic clicks by nearly a 2:1 margin for keywords with high commercial intent in the US. In other words, 64.6% of people click on Google Ads when they are looking to buy an item online!”
Forrester also predicts that search marketing will be increasing by a 12 % compound annual growth rate over the next 4 years.
But is this growth sustainable?
From an article by Receptional – a digital marketing agency – I read that “The latest report released by Compete.com suggests that the top organic search position in Google receives 53% of clicks from search users, followed by 15% for position 2 and 9% for position 3.” SEO and SEM techniques can raise your rankings and it important to do so, but managing people’s recall of your brand is important.
So what do I think is going to happen?
In the same article mentioned above from Laryy Kim, it is stated that “approximately half of searchers still can’t differentiate between paid and organic search listings.” I think that consumers (of products, services, and information) are becoming smarter and less trusting. I think that because of that we will see a trend in the decline of trust for “the top link.” People are learning to look at the website and recall if this is a valid resource to pull information from – “have I heard of this company/group before?” they will be thinking.
This reminds me of a TED talk by Simon Sinek about “How great leaders inspire action.” Companies are going to have differentiate themselves by making people care and having content that inspire people to act.
In the end – SEO is necessary, but it is no longer enough. SEM can help, but no, it will not be the superhero of your companies story. The real hero is genuine content and inspirational ideas.