The crowd at SMX West ranges from in-house search marketers to agency driven professionals. Danny has done a great job of promoting and educating the industry. The largest search engines Google, Yahoo and MSN Live are the players that we both love and sometimes are disappointed, just like children you love, but sometimes hope for them to be a bit better. Google still owns nearly 70% of the market. Yahoo reaches about 20% of the market and MSN hovers near the 15% market based on Comscore and other research. Google is obviously the older kid in the family.
Danny lets the crowd know Google is much like a habit, sometimes a good habit, but probably won’t kill you. No particular need for people to “kick it” or switch. The competitors are in disarray and stronger than before. They are the powerful blip on the radar screen. Some Google wishes include:
Show real-time CPC for ads, Tell publishers what AdSense split is, Solve map spam issues, and think carefully before moving into further Google-hosted content (Google Book Search, Time-Life @ Goggle Images, Knol).
Yahoo is the Little Engine That Should’ve. Trying to compete with the largest competitor. They are currently in a bit of a leadership dissarray with a new CEO. They have suffered a loss of talent and part of their “mojo” factor. Danny wishes they would restore faith if possible. Keep innovating for products like Search Monkey, but enough with the “open” solution. Please don’t do things like angering you advertisers. It’s in their Terms, but they have reserved the right to make changes to your campaigns and have started making updates in campaigns on their client’s behalf.
Google’s main business is Search, Ads and apps. Microsoft is split between Software and Services. Search is saying they want to compete, but they don’t show us they love search. The search engine industry would love to see a competitor to Google, their rooting for Microsoft and that just is amazing, right? Microsoft MSN Windows Live – is that your brand? Really? Do the hard things too and you can compete. If everyone’s the same, no one will leave Google. Competition is good.
Danny tells us what we already know, Google is the 300 pound gorilla, but the things taking bites out of the market share include “killerettes.” These are the tools that grab market share, provide a value and can compete at a different level. Summmize / Twitter search is real-time. Why don’t Google and Yahoo offer Twitter search? A really powerful tool and it may prevent Google from having this type of data. Loves Urbanspoon as a huge database of reviews. Google has nothing like this. Can you imagine trying to choose a restaurant and reviews based on a Google search? Nearly impossible. Location based events are mobile based answers to immediate questions. Eventful, Upcoming and Yelp are all “killerette” apps that can provide value, but it is sometimes hard to remember all the search applications available. One of the new jobs as a search marketer is to find them and use them when appropriate. Googlettes may even offer further market reach such as YouTube, Google Blog Search.
Search 4.0 will be personalized and focus on social search. It will reshape what you do personally and tailor your search results based on location, previous query, and web history. Google SearchWiki allows anyone to customize the order of results they see. Search Results continue to diversify and shotgun approaches to SEO are likely to hit fewer targets. It is harder and harder to see the same results for two individuals. Good content will continue to be rewarded.
Danny gives is a bit of a wake up call. SEO often gets a bad rep as Snake Oil salesmen. Maybe time for a name change such as “Technical SEO” and focus on things you can do to on-page content and architecture. No more black hat or white hat debate, stop using “Crap Hat” stuff like off-topic link drop, automated link insertion, comment spamming, etc. If it’s crap, even if you can get away with it, stop it. Like your kids, you often have to tell them you don’t care if everyone else is doing it, you should say no and tell others to say no.
There seems to be a rise on In-House search marketing. Agencies should think about how to support them. The market is probably changing and outsourcing will not go away. There are conflicting reports on how financial crisis and search are reacting. There are spend pull-backs, but continued support. Still hard to say how hard it will hit, but analytics will become even more crucial. You probably have plenty of people coming to your site, but converting them will be critical. Analytics will help focus this effort.
Watch here for future developments and coverage of the SMX conference.