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Search Engine Marketing 2004 Predictions

December 2003

I just read Jill Whalen's reviews of her expectations for what would happen in 2003. I think its a good idea to try to look ahead, so I will.

The United States will be at War with a Third World Country...

The Spread of Power

In 2004 Google will lose some of its market dominance. Yahoo will shift to its own proprietary technology (most likely Inktomi). In addition MSN will be dumping LookSmart next month to be powered by Inktomi.

Powering the above two portals will cause Inktomi to have nearly the market weight of Google. SEO firms will need to work hard to optimize for multiple algorithms.

The fact that the current Google algorithm and Inktomi use such different algorithms means that comprehensive search coverage will become harder. More and more true market leaders will get global exposure.

It Will Become Significantly Harder to Manipulate Search Results

The recent Google algorithm has bewildered a bunch of people. Its about the first time in the history of the web where SEOs were not able to quickly solve for the changes made to an algorithm.

I look for Google to extend this a large amount in the next year. While many of the core elements will hold true, search engines may become advanced enough that most will not be able to understand how the results occur.

SEO firms will become more like PR advisors who know how to deal with people and where to look for links vice people who directly tinker with the search results.

Local Search Goes Global

Players such as Citysearch will partner with or be bought out by the larger search engines and portals. As the additional targeting of local search improves ROI people will begin to spend more money in their local community listings.

There will be at least a dozen significant moves in local search this year. Most likely all mid to large sized pay per click companies will accommodate this new audience or become irrelevant by the end of next year.

Directories Will Spring Up Everywhere

With the current Google algorithm shift many people will seek alternate routes to profits. Creating resource directories paid for by ads will be a quicker and simpler way to make profits than to worry about the customer conversion path from end to end.

A couple new directories will become virtual overnight success stories.

Tracking Will Become Part of the Click Price Everywhere

Things which were once considered a bonus will become part of what is expected with pay per click accounts. Kanoodle recently announced its autoscheduler, and many of its piers will be announcing other technologies wish push the expected customer service bar upward.

Greater targeting through automated account tools will simplify this arena as it gets more complex. Look for about a half dozen software companies that provide interfacing services ahead of the search engines to emerge (most only to later get bought out and integrated).

SEO Prices Will Go Up Sharply

As technology advances we can expect the effort required to stay competitive will also increase. Some of the techniques which worked well for top organic rankings are not working as well as they once did. Couple that with hyper growth in the pay per click community and we will see costs soar.

In addition to the above statements it will become more and more true that buying links from resources (or) being one of the top resources for your chosen field will be necessary to compete at the global level.

Website Will be Forced to Create Content and Operate Efficiently

With increasing ad prices it will be necessary for websites to be smooth after the landing. High conversion rates through providing value added services will become a must.

- by Aaron Wall, owner of Search Marketing Info

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