SMX Advanced: the more things change…

I’m glad to have attended SMX Advanced here in Seattle over the last couple of days. What did I learn? Mainly that the old cliche still applies: The more things change, the more things stay the same.

As noted in my last post, SEO is still a collection of best practices, most of which have changed little. Focus on good content, make it easy to access and navigate, and tell others about it. The tactics for link building have shifted in terms of where to find them and to drum up online community interest, but ultimately it’s still about getting the attention of people. This isn’t to diminish the upheaval of some social media sectors by the likes of Twitter and Facebook, but it’s important to recognize that these are tools and not strategies in and of themselves. Keeping this perspective encourages broader, more strategic thinking about how to best promote a product or service.

PPC advertising has enjoyed many improvements, but these are primarily of interest to those managing the campaigns (like me) and only very indirectly to most clients. More ad formats are available than ever (video, Flash, audio, even print and tv) on more properties than ever, but the vast majority of budgets will still be allocated to text ads in search engines. The new features generally provide easier management and better insight into performance, but they don’t shift the fundamentals for the client: more clicks of higher quality for less cost.

The biggest change may have just begun: Bing. I have not yet spent enough time with it to provide any insightful comments, nor would this really be the point of interest. Rather what Bing could do is shift the search landscape. If Microsoft can significantly increase market share, then our clients will have many new opportunities and a few challenges to attracting high quality site visitors. I think that we’re still a long way from seeing the results of any potential shift in market share, and I for one am quite happy with my current selection of search engines.

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