Should SEO Remain in Your Advertising Plan?

For many advertisers, search is an important part of their marketing budget.  For instance, if you’re a mortgage company, you can be sure more than 50% of your target audience is using the web to search for their next mortgage.  If you want to be on their list, you have two choices — paid search or SEO.

But SEO is not what it used to be.  Now, our advertising agency doesn’t offer SEO in our services.  But we have recommended it to our clients, and we’ve watched from the sidelines as Google has changed the game.  Google has at least 65% of the market share, and SEO companies have made a lot of money helping advertisers get a good Google ranking.  But the SEO future appears to be in jeopardy.

After all, Google doesn’t make money from SEO.  They make money from selling Adwords.  So last April, they implemented an algorithm change which resulted in top-ranking sites dropping off the map.  One of them was a client of ours.  Apparently, their SEO company (who, mind you, had been very successful achieving great rankings for them) was using tactics that Google was now penalizing.  Our poor clients knew nothing of this.  All they knew was that good rankings could bring them business, and SEO companies offered this service.  But now their website was nowhere to be found.

Since then, Google has instituted countless algorithm changes in an effort to thwart SEO company attempts to achieve top rankings.  We’ve watched for the past two months as the same keywords now brings a different response on Google almost daily.  Google is trying to make it impossible for SEO companies to succeed — and in the process are forcing advertisers to purchase Adwords instead.

Over time, it will undoubtedly causing bad feelings among the advertisers they should be building relationships with.  And how about their visitors?  If the same keyword gets a different response on a daily basis, are the visitors really getting the best responses from their searches?  Or is Google simply serving up what will ultimately bring them the most revenue?

I guess if you’re Google and you have 65% of the market share, you can get away with doing business like this.  But as we all know in the world of technology, there isn’t a lot of loyalty.  Google might do themselves some good by building some.