SEM Settled? Good, Now On To Real Marketing

    April 16, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

The e-business world is moving on from SEO and SEM. That doesn’t mean they aren’t important. It means that everybody seems to get it now (perhaps) and it’s sort of a standard practice, like tacking fliers to light posts. The next frontier has two branches: branding and making connections.

Where it’s not going: direct marketing (been there, done that for a decade now); single-channel.

Six months to a year ago, this list of 35 algorithmic influences collected by the search community would have lit up the blogs, forums, and comments sections. The eurekas weren’t exactly forthcoming though. It seemed to be old news to many.

But it’s not over, not by a long shot. It may be just set into place.

"SEO is a double edged sword – you don’t want to become too addicted," said CEO Rich Skrenta at the Web 2.0 Conference in San Francisco. "Obviously everyone would like to create their own direct relationships with their user base, but we have to accept the fact that Google is the start page of the Internet"

So everything begins with search, which puts SEO and SEM not in the past or the background. It’s in the foreground of the present. But these days there’s something different. That something different is the community to which search leads.

In those communities, audiences, or "customers," as Oliver Muoto, co-founder of, called them, are looking for feedback and connections. Those expecting direct response to thrive will be disappointed. This system is going global.

Watch Google as an indicator. Where the company once touted a "do one thing well" philosophy, the company has expanded its reach, dipping its fingers into everything accessible: TV, radio, print, contextual, banners, Web video.

In many ways, it’s the rebirth of the bubble: small companies being acquired by giants for exorbitant prices; tech careers paying more than ever; the best way to get ahead online these days is to be unique enough (or gather enough of an audience) to get bought.

Time will tell if it’s a sustainable bubble.

Until then, search is as standard as HTML. If marketers and online businesses haven’t implemented it by now, they’re already way behind. Those that have made a regular practice of it have their rankings and their AdWords campaigns and have moved on to branding and connecting one-on-one with their audiences (customers) via blogs, communities, et cetera.