What Is The Next Frontier in Internet Marketing Now That SEO is Practically Dead?

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I have been thinking for a while about this question. Left and Right people are abandoning the SEO world. Google is getting better at ranking good quality websites, and most SEO’s today can agree that good content marketing with a solid distribution plan will accomplish most of your SEO goals as a happy bi-product of your inbound marketing efforts.

To be honest, I think We might just be getting bored. It’s been nearly 20 years since the Internet became commercialized. We have been through a  dot com bubble, and a few market crashes. We have lived through a serious recession. We have seen billion dollar brands disappear and we have seen billion dollar companies emerge in less than a couple years.

We have a pretty good idea what works today. What works long term. What works to get us through dot com crashes, bubble bursts, and recessions. 

We now know that the Internet is here to stay. We know that success online is about building an audience and communities, collaborating with the crowd, utilizing mobile to create excess capacity markets that were never possible just a few short years ago.

We know of several dozen revenue models online. We have Data Management Platforms letting us track banner ad impressions to credit card usage in stores. We have big data up the wazoo.

While it’s too early to say the internet is mature, I think we are at a point where we can rinse and repeat traffic and monetization strategies successfully. We have marketing automation, personalized web experiences, coupon codes at our fingertips, and 0ver 80 different types of search results pages.

So, the question becomes, what made SEO such an attractive service for businesses, and what’s the next big thing to take it’s place. What’s the next frontier of Marketing on the Internet.

My theory why SEO was so attractive is because it not only produced defensible results, but it also made the website owner look good and feel even better. 

I have had countless clients complain to me, “why is he outranking me, I do a much better job than he does, I am cheaper, I have been around longer, I am a better business, so why is Google ranking him above me.”

This goes back to my advertising theory about billboards. “Advertisers will always choose the media that makes them look the best, and stokes their ego, even over a better producing strategy, as long as the ego-boosting strategy is defensible and produces enough to not look bad for choosing that option. ” Why Else Would Anyone Ever Buy a Billboard?!

This is why so many facets of SEO are so popular like guest posting, Press Releases and PR, getting link mentions, getting placed on the home page of digg, linkbait, etc… In fact, earning links are basically a nice big pat on the back…

We watched social take it’s place for a while. Where likes and fans and followers made you feel good, but it just wasn’t ROI positive for most businesses. Those that failed to really thrive in a social environment, fell off the wayside. Having lots of likes and fans is no longer cool.

Going viral was the hot ticket in town for a while, but most peoples efforts fell flat. Sometimes it was bad timing and launching when there was too much noise, but more often than not it was about lack of distribution. Not understanding how to drive the right traffic and reach influencers with your better content. Unfortunately, most people don’t realize that your average piece of content that goes viral had a large media buy pushing it.

List building is an evergreen strategy that sort of fits this criteria. After all, having a big list definitely produces an ego-boost, but like all other strategies, it is about quality not quantity, and quality has an inherent flaw. It is not a magic pill. It won’t give you quick gratification…

Marketing automation is pretty awesome, although most companies offering these platforms fall short of what it really is. A generic concept like this fails to capture  a captive audience because it has so many definitions… same goes for content marketing.

So, we know that producing quality content, and investing heavily in user experience, and personalizing each engagement to develop a strong audience with a deep affinity to your brand is the way to go… But, let’s face it.. most companies just dont have the money or the commitment to pull this off. Which of course means more opportunity for the rest of us… but still is very expensive, and the payoff is a couple years down the line…

So, I ask again, “What New and Fresh Internet Marketing Strategy or Concept has the same appeal as SEO, with the same Results, and the of course the big boost to your clients ego? Is it native advertising? Is it programmatic Advertising? Is it Linkedin Content Marketing? Is it getting top placement on Reddit? is it going viral? Is it something that we never heard of yet? is it Growth Hacking? Is it search display retargeting? What do you think?

I don’t know, but I would love to hear your vote in the comments. I will be thinking about this for a while, but my gut tells me it will be some amalgamation of Growth Hacking. Not the traditional definition used by programmers, but the broader appeal of building inherent social interactions in your product, and turning every product and brand into a communication channel.

Please share your thoughts below.

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About David Melamed

David Melamed is the Founder of Tenfold Traffic, a search and content marketing agency with over $15,000,000 of paid search experience and battle tested results in content development, premium content promotion and distribution, Link Profile Analysis, Multinational/Multilingual PPC and SEO, and Direct Response Copywriting.

Comments

  1. This is a great question and as always, I enjoy reading your posts. I think “SEO is dead” is a reaction to the industry entering what Geoffrey Moore calls a “C market” that’s heading for a “D market”. The level at which Google is adopting to Search Engine Manipulation (as they view it) does slow things down from being a B market, but that’s what seems to have happened. Google and Microsoft will fight over how much of the PPC money you give them, Constant Contact and Mail Chimp will fight over who sends out your emails, and companies are going to be more likely to compete over the support services.

    I am and likely will always be a direct marketing guy, but even through those glasses it seems like internet marketing is going to continue to focus more on building your own opt-in lists and inspiring people to do things like buy your product or encourage them to comment on your blog 🙂 To put more fine of a point on it, if SEO isn’t going to be a consistent way of bringing customers in the door, businesses and organizations are going to have to rely on finding other ways to drive traffic to their digital storefront.

  2. Jasper Vallance says:

    Great post David and love the detail! I don’t think there are anymore silver bullets rather the next frontier is more a question of integration (between all online channels and offline) and effective execution in creating customer experiences that can set you business apart from the rest. I see this requires a complete shift in how businesses invest their money and requires new leadership. Online especially with mobile offers great potential to assist customers through a purchase process but integration with offline channels is vital. Internet TV and integration with your smartphone presents some interesting opportunities to drive direct engagement and impulse purchases. But consumers are more savvy than ever so will not be tricked when they feel they are being sold to. The question is how you are truly relevant and can add value to assist them through the purchase process and prove your the best option. I see content will be key to engage in relevant ways across channels but this requires a huge investment in content creation and the right technology platforms. This requires business transformation from how businesses currently operate.

    Great point around the motivation to looking good when making marketing decisions! As a marketer how will you look good in the future? I think with new leadership from up and coming generations will put the focus back on results as everything will become measurable. How did you significantly increase returns from the same budget? And ask the customer – their feedback and loyalty will be the proof of how effective you have been.

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