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SEO Industry Is Getting Mature

March 04, 2008

As a result of some factors that have recently changed the SEO landscape, many experts took the stand that the time for establishing a set of industry standards is approaching.

In his post on Search Engine Land, Paul J Bruemmer, director of search marketing at Red Door Interactive, discussed the obstacles to standardization as well as the signs of SEO industry maturity.

A possible reason that reduces the motivation for creation of standards is the usage of “black-hat” SEO techniques. They can be defined as: breaking the search engine's stated rules and regulations; creating a poor user experience directly because of the black hat SEO techniques utilized on the Website; unethically presented content in a different visual or non-visual way to search engine spiders and search engine users.

The good news here is that according to Matt Cutts a lot of black-hat SEO companies either went out of business or have transformed into white-hat SEO companies. “The search engine optimization industry has made a lot of progress in the last few years. It’s a little less common to get cold calls from SEOs that guarantee #1 rankings but won’t tell you how they try to do it.”

In addition to black-hat techniques another obstacle for establishing SEO standards is the wide variance in range of services offered by SEM firms. Apart from SEO and PPC these companies also provide online marketing services such as e-mail marketing, search marketing, media buying and so on.

In spite of the drawbacks, some facts point that the industry is maturing. Bruemmer claimed that although the ongoing changes occur rapidly, the saturation point is coming and the growth begins to slow down. According to the annual industry survey conducted by the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO) $9.4 billion were spent on search engine marketing (SEM) in 2006, which is 62 percent increase over 2005. SEMPO researchers also estimate SEM spending to double by 2011. SEMPO's report for 2007 is not out yet, but industry experts believe that growth is slowing due to marketing saturation and maturity.

Another sign of industry maturity is the growth in search engine marketing training programs. Two big conferences like SMX and SES have been held. A number of organizations offer certificates for completion of online and offline search marketing courses like the SEMPO Institute Search Engine Marketing courses and the DMA Search Engine Marketing Certification Program. These facts also indicate that the time for establishing common search marketing standards is near.

Does all this mean that the discussed idea for the creation of common search marketing standards could be realized?

There is one thing that is for sure: the establishment of SEO rules for behavior and techniques will have a positive impact on the industry reputation and will assist in overcoming the bad practices.


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