Being an SEO (and succeeding) in 2013 is very different from, say, a year or two ago. 2012 has seen some major changes to Search engine marketing and whoever hasn’t adapted is almost surely guaranteed to disappear from the SEM radar.
For 2013, Google will more than likely remain the main player in Search engine marketing: despite Bing currently being credited with around 16% of the market share, Google still remains by far the major player on the scene, with around 80% of searches still being run through the Internet giant. This also means the primary Search Engine can almost dictate its own rules when it comes to Search, and the growth in revenue from PPC by almost 50% in the last year is a good example of how Google is growing increasingly dictatorial on the internet.
For online marketing professionals, these changes in the landscape have also meant changes in strategy and priorities. The main change is that of SEO slowly but surely becoming SEM. Generally, SEO and SEM is perceived as more or less the same thing, but the idea at the centre of this transformation is that SEO can no longer work on its own – integration with content, social media and conversion optimisation is where the future lies for this acquisition channel.
SEM, unlike SEO, includes PPC, and PPC is becoming increasingly important as Google favours big brands to smaller affiliate sites and almost forcing this option on businesses. Without getting too much into the cliche discussion along the lines of ‘Is SEO dead’ etc, optimisation as we got used to it will have to change and incorporate other elements as Search is becoming more social and complex.
Numerous authoritative voices maintain the last major algorithm update has been spread over many months to deliberately confuse SEO professionals and many elements of that update will be slowly rolled out throughout 2013. Whether this turns to be the case or not, we should expect many tweaks to the way sites are ranked at the moment and strategy should be revised every few months, particularly for mobile, where changes are currently happening at an even faster pace.
The conclusion of all this is that the future SEOer will be more of an all-round marketing specialist, able to integrate content, social and other elements into the overall marketing and acquisition strategy, while still being proficient at onsite and offsite optimisation. Overall, not easy, but the next few years will surely separate the boys from the men in the SEO/SEM world of change.
Adapt or die is an evolutionist approach that could surely be applied to SEO in 2013. My guess is that only the good SEM specialists will be able to thrive and even exist in the context of the new changes, which are more than likely to continue as search algorithms are becoming more sophisticated, and this natural selection is in my opinion a good thing that could ultimately improve the reputation of SEM within the marketing context.
Being an SEM specialist in 2013 is not just a job – it’s an adventure!