5 Search Engine Marketing Predictions for 2009
This will be a challenging year for all marketers, including search engine marketers. Following are five SEM predictions I have for 2009:
1. Keyword prices won't fall much. While demand for keywords auctioned by search engines may slacken in certain verticals, keyword prices will hold, further crimping the meager margins of pay-per-click marketers. Some of these marketers may go out of business as a result, but survivors will benefit from increased market share. Those who can continue to market efficiently will thrive once consumers open their wallets again.
2. Bid management automation finally gets respect. PPC campaign automation systems finally will become universally accepted by all serious search spenders this year. Why? Competitive pressures will force even the laggards and Luddites to embrace automation systems because they vastly reduce waste and improve efficiencies.
3. Search engine optimization will diminish in importance. Myriad algorithmic and personalization advances rolled out by the search engines will further marginalize the importance of SEO, making the reverse engineering of such algorithms more difficult and diminishing the traditional importance of first-page rankings. SEO, once perceived as a high-level discipline whose practitioners could earn as much as $500 an hour, will be more correctly perceived as a fundamental aspect of basic Web design and construction.
4. SEM talent pool worries will ease. The traditional difficulty in finding qualified people to perform complex SEM tasks will ease in 2009, as job hopping and salary inflation become less endemic due to an increased wave of consolidation among SEM agencies, especially those that have underperformed in the past. SEM professionals' salaries will plateau — even fall — as the supply of these professionals begins to exceed demand for the first time.
5. SEM outsourcing will grow. In the past two years, marketers increasingly have sourced SEM tasks in-house, believing that internal staffers — who are more intimately involved in the particular details of any given business — would perform better at SEM tasks. This trend will stall and reverse in 2009, because e-marketers, forced to pursue every possible efficiency, finally will begin to evaluate the true costs of maintaining in-house SEM professionals, which are higher than using an outsourced SEM firm once both HR and opportunity cost factors are considered.