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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Top 7 Reasons Andy Beal's Answer to Question #8 of Lee Odden's 10 Questions is Wrong

Can you tell I'm tired of these "Top N" lists? Nonetheless, here are my top 7 reasons Andy Beal's answer to question #8 of Lee Odden's 10 questions is wrong. In that answer, Beal says SEO takes "more effort than a paid search campaign." He also asserts that "anyone can manage a campaign without the need for outside assistance." My goodness, how can someone so smart say something so dumb? Here are 7 reasons his notion that SEO is hard and PPC is easy is plain wrong:
  1. Local advertising via Google AdWords is not as simple as it sounds.
  2. PPC advertisers need to develop and employ click fraud minimization strategies.
  3. Not all PPC advertising is the same. Although lumped together by default on PPC advertising platforms like Google AdWords and Yahoo! Search Marketing, contextual advertising is NOT search engine advertising.
  4. Multiple PPC platforms to learn. I imagine some advertisers are going to want some help with the Y!SM upgrade. A couple of years ago, I recommended second tier PPC search engines (read results from 2004 case study published on SEO Chat). I no longer use them due to click fraud issues. How will an advertiser know which PPC engines to use, which to avoid and how to keep up with each different platform's changes?
  5. Does anybody really understand Google AdWords Quality Score? Anybody? Bueller?
  6. With broad matches on AdWords, you don't really know what you're paying for.
  7. Will a new advertiser recognize that the new, simplified version of AdWords (Starter Edition) is actually not good for small business?
I'll stop at 7. This list could go to 11. Haven't even touched on tracking PPC ad spend, understanding technicalities like embedded matching, dealing with "inactive for search" issues, how to perform keyword research in the first place, testing ad text variations, customizing landing pages, etc. PPC is easy? SEO is hard? C'mon! This has got to be linkbait. Beal can't be serious. Why does there have to be this debate between PPC and SEO? They're both a subset of SEM (search engine marketing). They're both essential. If anything, though, I'd argue that SEO is headed for extinction as web designers become more aware of optimization issues and search engines get better about ignoring "unnatural" links. Even Beal's quote supports this idea. He says, "SEO is going to evolve, becoming a mixture of optimization, viral marketing, buzz generation and public relations." Actually, viral marketing, buzz marketing and public relations have nothing to do with SEO. Smart SEOs recognize that they need to evolve beyond SEO into these other realms. I think Andy has inadvertently admitted that SEO is gradually on its way out. PPC is hard. So is SEO. Top "N" lists are annoying.

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Blogger TopRank said...

It’s too bad some of the vocal PPC and SEO proponents can’t “get it” that clients are not served with a mutually exclusive mentality about paid and natural search.

Kevin Lee joined in yesterday in his ClickZ column referencing natural search marketers only as “SEO spammers”.

It’s a self serving position and not client centric at all.

SEO and PPC have challenges unique to each discipline and unique to each campaign. Working together, when warranted, results can far exceed each tactic on it's own.

Tue Dec 19, 09:12:00 AM EST  
Blogger Richard said...

Right, clients might not care if PPC or SEO methods are used. Ultimately, they want their products and services visible in search engine results. Often, both PPC and SEO are useful. Or, if SEO is the long term solution, PPC is good for short term traffic and to fine tune keywords.

SEO is an important part of SEM (search engine marketing). So is PPC. They are not necessarily mutually exclusive. I'm guessing these guys are trying to force some buzz. Makes them look silly, though. It backfires.

Tue Dec 19, 09:59:00 AM EST  
Blogger Chris Boggs said...

Hi Richard I love the title of your post. Very "link-baity." Seriously though I was starting to get angry about your defense of PPC tactics (even though I agree with many of your points), because I am getting tired of hearing SEO being bashed.

But I perked up when I saw that you were getting tired of the back and forth between two legitimate sectors under the SEM umbrella. I too have always felt this way about the classification of search marketing species.

But then you go on to say SEO is on the way out? C'mon Richard you can't really feel that is true. Sure developers and designers are getting better at understanding the concepts behind SEO, but they do not have the time it takes to effectively promote organic ranking growth, which is an ongoing process for competitive fields.

You are probably right that the SE's will get better at stopping the "Spammers" that many seeming to be waging a verbal war against, but webmaster guideline-condoned SEO activities will always have a place in our biosphere (perhaps that should be webosphere). The engines have teams dedicated to helping SEO's help them get results right.

So please no more dire prognoses for SEO as a whole. And quite frankly I believe the Spammers probably have the wherewithal to stay a step ahead of the SE's for some time.

Wed Dec 20, 09:54:00 AM EST  
Blogger Richard said...

Hi Chris - Yeah, I tried to make the title funny. I'm not saying PPC is better than SEO or vice-versa. I said, "I'd argue that SEO is headed for extinction." That's not imminent. Could be 10 years. I think that's actually what Andy hinted at with "SEO is going to evolve, becoming a mixture of optimization, viral marketing, buzz generation and public relations." Those activities are *not* SEO. I don't think SEO is evolving. Rather, I think it's on the road to extinction and SEOs are moving into other areas beyond SEO.

I think that's happening for 2 reasons:
1) Search engines are more open with webmasters about ranking well.
2) Search engines are no longer the starting point for many surfers.

Regarding #1, look at Google's Webmaster Central. SEO knowledge is still largely undocumented but is more available than a few years ago. Site owners and web designers can use SEO best practices themselves. Yes, there'll still be a need for SEO consultants, but I think the demand is shrinking.

Regarding #2, I think just as search engines supplanted portals, new web 2.0 and social media sites are supplanting search engines as the starting point for web surfing. Do you start looking for information with a search engine? I find myself using NetVibes to track information from favorite blogs, Technorati to see what's happening in a more real-time sense. Search engines are too stale. I often find searching for information via more useful than either Google or Yahoo. Some people surf via services like StumbleUpon.

Search engines are not as critical to traffic for a site as they were a few years ago. SEOs recognize this and are beginning to offer other services. Interesting to see a handful offering linkbait services. IMHO, that's not the evolution of SEO. That's a sign of the eventual extinction of SEO and a move by competent SEOs into new areas.

I hope that clarifies my statements about SEO. In the meantime, I recommend a balanced portfolio of SEO and PPC (plus some AQNT). ;-)

Wed Dec 20, 11:58:00 AM EST  

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