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2013 is a big year for Search Marketing. People have been searching the internet (the www part) since the appearance of the first search engine, Archie, in 1990. We’re still searching – and not just on Google. Yandex is the supremo in Russia and neighbouring countries and Baidu reigns supreme in China. According to ComScore, dinosaur Yahoo! is still the second biggest web property in the world (after Google) with 191 million users in March.

The big lesson here is the same one that printed media is slowly learning: You have to be where your audience and market are, you can’t expect them to be where it suits you. So, until people stop using search engines, so do you. And that’s why  in 2013, it could cost you a bit more. Here’s why:

Increased Competition

The global slowdown and rise of online marketing mean that more and companies are vying for business, both B2B and B2C. As people wakeup to the growing successes to be had, companies who’ve never considered online marketing are now prepared to throw increasingly larger amounts of money at staying in business.

Marketing Spend = Sales Success

Some companies believe marketing is free or something you do at the weekend, but many companies also know that successful companies spend 15% – 20% of their turnover on marketing and the most successful spend even more. The top talent will be lured to these companies, have no doubt. If you want to make more sales, you need to generate more demand, leads and enquiries. With headlines that Social Media made no measurable impact on sales in 2012 from Business Insider and IBM Smarter Commerce, Google’s stock has been soaring, hitting US$929 today.

Google’s stronger Anti-spam will kill “cheap” SEO

Google’s increasingly aggressive anti-spam initiatives will kill cheap link buying tactics dead in their tracks. If you link with the intent of just ranking, then that will be penalised and that will close 99% of Asian link shops that have become a multi-million dollar industry over the past 10 years. It’s not just sites that advertise link programmes, it’s all so-called SEO agencies that do SEO which is really just link spam, and that includes many UK, EU, Irish and US marketing firms who hire them. If you’re paying €200 a month for SEO, you’ll have to question where it’s going and how it’s viable, especially if your search traffic is falling.

PPC is getting slightly more complex

In 2003, anyone who knew anything about e-mail, banners, search engines and pay-per-click could be an online marketing consultant. But things have grown a lot more. We recently audited a number of PPC Programmes and were shocked to see outrageous acquisition costs. It’s as though many agencies understood the theory of AdWords but just couldn’t implement it. A clear sign, from talking to Google AdWords Internal AdWords assistants, is that they understand the platform less and less.

Lack of qualified staff

It’s getting harder and harder to become and stay competent at SEO and PPC. As a result of both this and a negative view of Google in popular media (lawsuits in Ireland, France and Germany for example) mean that new marketers are drawn to fun, simpler platforms like Facebook and twitter, where the barrier to entry is much lower. Companies like Paddy Power, Ryanair and others have their own internal teams who also still  outsource to top paid talent, leaving fewer and fewer available to work in agencies. I still shudder when I see jobs posted for SEO that include competencies in other disciplines – either you’re going to get somebody with conversation knowledge or you’re going to be paying over €100k per annum!

This means that agencies with strong talent have higher costs – both in training and retention – and these will have to be passed on.

Good SEO works, and that’s why good SEO costs

 

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