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May 6, 2008

SEO is about to Grow Up

Those who have been in the industry since the late 90’s have seen huge changes in SEO. The industry has really matured. But in the grand scheme of things, if you were to plot SEO on a product life cycle chart you would see that the industry is still in its’ infancy.

Except that we’re poised for some serious growth.

SEO – Introduction Stage – Starting about 1998
Companies who were around in the introduction stage often had to build product awareness and develop a market for SEO.

In the early ‘2000’s, many of our clients had just build their first websites. This was a significant investment for them and they thought that now that they have a website, the online sales would just flow in. Many didn’t realize that they had just invested serious coin into an over-priced business card. Because nobody could find them.

At this point, there was little consistency in the product. And as the algorithm got more complex, the SEO offering varied more. Some companies were offering to “submit to hundreds of search engines” (some still are) whilst others were offering usability, analytics and site architectural input in addition to on-page and off-page SEO.

SEO – Early Growth Stage – we’re still just at the beginning of it.
In the early growth stage, smart SEO companies are beginning to think about building their brand and to increase market share.

Demand is increasing as more customers understand the benefits of “getting found”. There is some competition at this stage but because the market is broadening so much, competition is limited and there is still a huge amount of camaraderie within the industry.

10 years into it, it’s easy to assume that our industry is more mature than it actually is.

We’ve only just begun.

Customer Implication
Demand has already started to increase but it is going to skyrocket. And it’s going to come from all types of business from very small customers to Enterprise type of businesses.

Up until recently, the neighborhood dry cleaner didn’t care if someone across the country found their website because they deal within a 5 km radius got very little benefit from optimizing their website. Now as search gets much better at localization, those local business will become much more serious about the opportunities online

It is also likely that we’ll see a lot of growth from Enterprise clients. These clients previously resisted SEO due to the complexity of working within legacy back-end systems. As technology increases and back-end systems become less expensive for more capability, we’re going to see companies replace their antiquated CMS’s with SEO friendly options.

Another change that this stage of the product life cycle will bring is in our relationship with the client. As SEO becomes a bigger part of the mainstream marketing mix, our customers will become more and more knowledgeable about SEO (we’re already starting to see this).

We’ll move from having a sales / consultative role to being a thought partner. Our clients will have a good understanding of what needs to be done but they’ll outsource it to us because we’re more efficient at implementing.

Competition Implication
With high growth in revenues, low barriers to entry, and no certification required, the SEO industry is prime for attracting any and all new entrants.

There have always been new competitors. But the face of our competition is going to change greatly. Up until now competition has focused primarily on small start ups and web design firms who decide to add a search component. Some stick around but many are wiped out with the next major shift in the algorithm.

This phase of the SEO life cycle is going to attract better capitalized, stronger competition from many sectors. These new entrants are attracted to SEO by the potential for profits not by the fit with their offering.

We are already starting to see traditional media firms seek to protect their eroding revenues by grabbing a slice of the online pie. But WalMart has shown us that future competition could be anyone. And it will be.

No all new entrants are attracted by dollar signs. There are also companies that are feeling increased pressure to offer a more well rounded package. As the integration of offline and online marketing services increases, customers are putting more pressure on agencies to handle the full scope of their marketing spend including the online component.

Although we’re already starting to see increased competition, many existing SEO companies aren’t feeling the pinch yet because demand is also increasing.

One implication of increased demand coupled with new entrants to the market is the impact on supply. We’re starting to experience a shortage of experienced SEO talent

SEO talent is a scarce resources. And this scared resource is not yet being renewed at a fast enough pace. Whilst some colleges are starting to offer digital media / internet marketing diploma, these grads know very little about what it takes to optimize a website.

Moreover, what they do know is limited to theory. It’s one thing to know that links are important to ranking. Its an entirely different thing to know how to effectively build links.

So what?

Who cares where we are in the product life cycle?

Although we’ve already experienced a lot of growth, this growth is nothing compared to what we’re about to experience.

In this next stage of the SEO life cycle, we’re going to see shifts in our clients, competition and product offering. Knowing that this is coming, will allow you to prepare.

If we know that face of our competition is going to change from other small to mid sized SEO’s to large Agencies and Enterprise size companies in totally unrelated industries then we can prepare for this by determining how we’re going to differentiate ourselves from the new entrants.

And if we know that there is going to be increased pressure on skilled resources then we should be developing in house training programs now.

The future is now. And it’s only just begun.

6 Responses to “SEO is about to Grow Up

    avatar SEO Pune says:

    Interesting article ..SEO could even become completely obsolete or maybe a very small part of a major internet marketing exercise , mainly due to the lack of education in this particular area.

    avatar الشيخ الشريف محمد الطيبى says:

    جميع انواع العلاج الروحانى وعلاج المس وفك السحر والربط وعلاج العقم بالقرأن والرقيه الشرعيه والاعشاب والزيوت وجلب المحبوب وحل المشاكل الاسريه
    وعمل المحبات وتعليم تحضير الجان وتعليم الروحانيات والطلاسم والاوفاق والعزائم والاقسام والاستخدامات وتسليم العهود الروحانيه
    ومواضيع لاهل التصوف وبيع المخطوطات النادره والمجربه الصحيحه ومخطوطات مجانيه وتفسير احلام وتعليم روحانيات قبطيه واسلاميه
    وما وراء الطبيعه والمجربات الصحيحه للاعضاء وعمل تحصينات واحجبه والاستشارات فى المشاريع عن طريق الروحانيه والعلاج بالاعشاب
    طلاق للظلمه وارسالت للظالم وكتب اسلاميه وعمل خواتم روحانيه للمحبه وقضاء الحوائج
    وبيع الطرق المجربه فى العلم الروحانى وجلب السحر وبيع احجار كريمه لها خدام وروحانيه وجلب الزبون للمحل والدكان والسنتر والمول ولاى مكان
    وجلب الارزاق للاشخاص والصلح بين الازواج ورد المطلقه ومخطوطات فى السحر القديم وخواتم للجلب والقبول والهيبه ولمنع السحر والحسد

    avatar Tommy Brown says:

    Great reading once again. I really enjoy this stuff. I have owned my business URL since 1999. Last year our house was damaged by a Tornado again for the third time and I got sick and was in and out of the Hospital and a long story shorten for you, I forgot to renew my domain name in all the confused state of mind I was in. Anyways the guy who bought it lives in Australia and wants money a lot of money for it back. So there goes 8 years of SEO down the drain. So I bought another name and he can eat his newly aquired domain. I wish him well with it. My new domain name is better anyways so I am thinking. But I believe we are only in the beginning of SEO.
    Microsoft has let us loyal PC addicts down with their updates on a regular basis and it is time for a Google PC OS. Microsoft is giving away Billions to aliens overseas and not taking care of business at home. I started with computers in 1988 and I have been thru every Operating System except Linux. So I am saying SEO is just getting off the ground. Google listens to the little guys wants and needs and that my friend is where the rubber meets the road, case closed. Have a great day and once again thanks for a well written article. I wished I had iespell on this old Win 98 PC which I love to use but it’s a bare bones PC. Have to be to get it to work like a Horse. Ha! Well I am done here except for copying this typing in case it does not get sent the first time. I know I must copy it to try and recall every word I type sometimes is impossible. Sorry about the spelling. Tommy Brown

    avatar SEO Solutions says:

    Fantastic article this will be interesting to pay reference to in the years to come :)
    SEO Solutions Chester.

    avatar Darrel says:

    I have loved your site for its useful and funny content and simple design.,

    avatar Sharla says:

    I have loved your site for its useful and funny content and simple design.,

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