There are many implications of any industry being in its "infancy" (Emerging Growth phase vs. Maturation or Decline). My post would be too long if I went into all of them.
Search Engine Watch Forums is mainly made up of very talented SEO's and SEM's who are dedicated to the Search Marketing Industry. A poster there said: "I pick up new clients all the time who had previously had mis-informed SEOs as well as answer questions from existing clients that heard such and such that is completely wrong. Goes along with an industry still in its infancy I guess." I applaud his openness and wisdom, and please keep in mind that while I may have an opinion about other people's opinions, I try my level best to never judge any person in any situation (I leave that to a "Higher Authority"). So here is the reply to that quote from another experienced SEO-SEM Consultant.
As you could see, that person replying to the above quote openly and honestly said (based on his life's experiences): "I must be the opposite in some instances then! I get people who don't listen to me, listen to all these unprofessional know all types, fail, then come back to me and still complain about the overall cost to do it the right way." So, not only is there "bouncing around" of opinions on how to do SEO-SEM the most productively for each client (energy & curiosity), but clients are complaining of overall cost (in some cases), and "bouncing around" from SEO-SEM to SEO-SEM too often, in my opinion. A great overview of why this situation is happening is Randy Schwartz's "Agency Turnover In Search Marketing", which I will elaborate more on in a future post.
Where does all this leave the prospective SEO-SEM ("repeat" or "first time") client? Remember, there are NO SEO GUARANTEES (except "best effort") that are probably not "twisted" when it comes to rankings or other possible evaluation factors. The PPC part of SEM is different in the sense that you have the guarantee of only paying if someone clicks on your paid listing, but you have no guarantee that the majority of click-throughs will be "Traffic Of Good Intent". In fact, some of the clicks could be "Click Fraud". So, the implications here are that the SEO-SEM seller, and the SEO-SEM buyer are both in the "wild wild west" as this relates to the "Emerging Growth" phase of Search Marketing. Some people think that "wild wild west" relates to possible "unsophistication" or "unprofessionalism". I disagree, as there will always be people and companies who can be judged accordingly (if you're into "judging") no matter what phase of growth an industry is in.
Here is a SEW Forums SEO-SEM Consultant who said: "Truth is, we are all 100% in the wild wild west. some geeks may have the time to read more than others and thus regurgitate their photographic memories of words and concepts, but a majority of us are dug deep in the trenches experimenting, learning, sharing and testing every possible idea or unique concept." Since Search Marketers don't control the ever changing algorithms of the search engines, I see the "experimenting, learning, sharing and testing" continuing for those eager to educate themselves. For clients, they need to first ask themselves these questions from "HonestSEO.com". Then clients need to ask SEO's these questions. However, the bottom line implication of the "infancy" of the Search Marketing industry for clients is a "tremendous opportunity" for more targeted, measurable (accountable), "yellow page" type results coupled with a "no guarantee, wild wild west" environment.
For the kinds of B2C and B2B prospective clients that represent the 370 Members of the "Association of National Advertisers" (ANA), this environment is causing them to have conference forums like the "2005 Marketing Accountability Forum" (7th link down on left) in July of this year. "Accountability" represents a big opportunity for both SEO-SEM buyer and for SEO-SEM seller, in my opinion. Why, because the President of the ANA said in his Feb. 2005 Letter (1st link on left) to his members: "Radio and print ads are out / internet marketing is in"; "Mass marketing is out / targeted – addressable marketing is in" & "Awareness measurements are out / marketing accountability is in." It sure sounds like to me that SEARCH MARKETING (SEO-SEM) is the ANSWER to many of their NEW CHALLENGES! What do you think?
Animated image courtesy of www.artie.com.