• SEOGuy

    SEMs who are strategic, creative, know the industry well and are passionate have a bright future ahead.

    On the PPC side, automation can’t replace brains. Sure, automation helps optimize a strategists job–but not replace it. For those brands/agencies that think it will–good luck! We’ll see you on the other side of the finish line.

    SEOs who REALLY know their stuff are much more the exception than the rule. Google regularly modify their algorithms and products, so talented SEOs who keep up and stay ahead will continue to be in high-demand–regardless of seniority.

  • Pat Grady

    Outstanding article, I love the style here, facts, not a defensive or paranoid stance! My team talks about this subject often. Most recently when reading about the DC Inventory Aware posting. :-)

    “I believe that Google generally prefers to eliminate middlemen”
    If I owned an auction based platform that sold anything, I’d be interested in making it as easy as possible for more qualified bidders to save time using it – it serves all interested parties in the auction (except consultants to the bidders). So I don’t view G as having a stance towards middlemen, more so, I see their perspective as “the need for a middleman might be a sign of our auction system being too complex, we should fix that”. That said, every effort I’ve seen, to make it “more simple”, has made it “more complex”. Trying to reduce something so critical to any biz, optimizing your results, is very unlikely to be automated, ever. Automation may become prevalent, but there will always be those who want to do better than automation affords.

  • victorpan

    Commodity? The words, certainly. I’ve been seeing SEO, PPC, and Social Media on resumes like the Powerpoint and Excel of software skills.

    Actual skill levels? Nope. There’s a learning curve, and when there’s a curve, there’s market price differentiation.

  • http://marketing-theories-and-my-theories.blogspot.com/ Arshad Amin

    Well everyone is commodity for another in one way or another. ;p jokes apart it seems true!

  • Kevin Lee

    Many of these arguments are why I evolved Didit from a pure SEM shop to a one stop digital shop, and then took it one further by investing in a traditional agency so we could do regular media buying and PR. SEM data is at the heart of a digital (and even a traditional) marketing plan, because the success of any other form of marketing manifests itself first within search.

  • Nicholas Protonotarios

    A one stop digital agency is the best way of doing things, cohesive marketing and understanding user intent something automation and 3rd party tools can only manipulate through historical data.

  • David Rodnitzky

    I think that is partially correct Pat, but I also think that Google likes the control!

  • David Rodnitzky

    Thanks for the comment Kevin. I had no idea that you did traditional – everything old is new again!

  • brian mathers

    I would have to disagree here. I attend also the SES Conferences and when look around what I see are a few thousand people who are in my mind skilled mechanics. Whether I attend the London or NYC conference what I don’t see much of is – business owners, the very people who need what we have to offer. I have a great relationship with a top SEO tool provider who rolled out a new software in 2011 and at the time our thoughts were, this will really help the small medium sized business owner to get to grips with SEO.

    It turned out that the resource put in place were swamped with calls – not with queries about the tool features, but actually how to do SEO, with questions like where will I find my TITLE TAG? Where do you go to change the TITLE TAG, and a whole raft of questions like this.

    Business owners are still not educated enough to know what makes a website fly and achieve reasonable results. The difficulty they have is choosing someone with good skills. There is always the possibility in life you will take your top of the range BMW to a BMW garage but that mechanic might just not solve the problem. The same can happen within the SEO industry. The only difference is that the business owner has not got much of a ‘specification brief’ to go on, that says the SEO Person you have chosen is a high performance skill specialist.

    So, personally, I think for a while yet there is still enough work around the globe for good dedicated SEO/SEM people who achieve results for the business owner who of course still needs to get better educated towards what makes a website achieve getting traffic to then gain conversion. We still have many business owners, who, when they call you for SEO services, the reason for their call is – “I need to be No1 on the search engines” – this is what we need to address?

    I would like to see more conferences and seminars that pull the business owners into a room and let them hear from quality skilled SEO/SEM people just what it takes to ‘tune up’ their website if they are to achieve what I call ‘OnlineXcellence’.

  • Kevin Lee

    Indeed. The Inceptor acquisition worked out so well, we started thinking about the biz-dev and cross sell process and how a broader offering would more often be an asset.

  • http://www.rimmkaufman.com/ George Michie

    A fine post, David. I see a growing perception of commoditization as an ever increasing cadre of people have “years of experience” in paid search. However genuine expertise remains rare and valuable. Doing paid search badly for years may look great on a resume but is worse than no experience. I suspect we are pretty far from actual commoditization, though in many instances perception is reality. As Kevin points out there are plenty of incentives for diversifying income streams, meeting client needs being the most obvious. In my view, there is room in any industry for excellence; there may be a point in time when mediocrity won’t pass muster in paid search, but unfortunately we haven’t gotten there yet.

  • David Rodnitzky

    I agree Tim. AdWords is basically its own language these days. As PLAs improve, however, will there come a time when many advertisers can just “set it and forget it” and let Google make smart decisions for them? Seems far-fetched right now, but it is worth pondering.

  • David Rodnitzky

    Great comment George. Benchmarking performance is very tough and most people don’t understand the difference between internal benchmarking (did I improve over last year?) and external benchmarking (am I performing at a best-of-class level).

    As such, there are a lot of companies who think all SEM experts are the same because they’ve never really compared their mediocre performance with performance they might get from experts.

    A rising tide raises all boats, and that is certainly the case at the moment in SEM. And as long as the tide keeps rising, everyone will look pretty good!

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