I asked some of my fellow SEMPDX’ers for some predictions and here’s what they came up with:

Adam Audette

– There will be fallout for small SEO/M shops and consultants

– Paid search will get cheaper on Google

– There will be a general tightening of belts. However, a lot of marketing dollars will flow to online search.

– Links will remain important

– Related search techniques on ecommerce sites will lose effectiveness

– Large digital agencies will look for freelance SEO consultants to provide white-label solutions for their large clients (who will be increasingly interested in search).

– Someone will figure out why Lisa Barone keeps talking about knee socks.

Ben Lloyd

2009 – The year of “OK” in the search marketing industry with further emphasis on Integration, and the beginnings of consolidation

In my crystal ball – I predict that the search marketing industry will weather the current economic storm, but it won’t be the best year. It’ll just be OK with more churn than growth. While there will be potentially more dollars devoted to search, those dollars won’t be astronomical. There will be opportunities for search marketing firms to really demonstrate effectiveness and to grow accounts, but the flip side is that the companies we work with won’t be immune to the economic downturn. The savvy companies will adapt and spend more money on the Web.

Like everyone else – I also see “traditional” marketing agencies taking an even greater interest in bringing an SEM offering to the table as they struggle to stay afloat as marketing dollars dry up. I also see this as the beginnings of consolidation where marketing agencies and other SEM firms consolidate as the economy starts to turn around late this year and into 2010. I also predict that sole practitioners and smaller SEM shops will be absorbed into larger firms as finding and keeping clients gets harder to do and the brand and business development power of a larger shop or marketing firm brings in the clients.

Lisa Williams: Top 5 Predictions for 2009

PPC and Organic Search:
A larger percentage of marketing budgets will shift to organic search (PPC 75%/Organic 25% split). Those efforts will focus more wholly on site performance rather than just ranking.

SEO Scammers/Spammers:
The industry will take more drastic measures to curtail SEO Scamming/ Spamming. I’m still amazed at the number of bogus SEO’s still hocking their wares, making money and not providing results.

Reporting Integration:
Search Reporting will work more closely with traditional marketing to provide more seamless integration of reporting.

Marketing/Advertising Agencies and SEO;
More agencies will incorporate digital commerce into their traditional marketing offerings. Seeing this trend spike since Q3 2008

Google Results Shift:
Okay, this is not so much a prediction, but a vote for the word on the street that Google results will begin to give more value to site performance in the SERP’s: organic click through rate, time on site, bounce rate, etc.

Kent Lewis (who wrote a whole article on the topic that I’m excerpting)

Social Media Consolidation
While we predicted a degree of consolidation in the social media Web 2.0 world, it didn’t come to fruition to the degree we expected in 2008, but 2009 will be a different story entirely. A lack of viable revenue streams (including advertising) combined with non-existent funding sources will spell the end for hundreds of Web 2.0 platforms and portals. Those with the largest audiences or best technology will get acquired on the cheap, while a majority will vaporize overnight. MySpace and Facebook will take tremendous heat from regulatory bodies after cases of identity fraud and theft receive attention from mainstream media. The players that best address data portability, privacy and security will have the best shot at weathering the storm, and an elite few may even become big winners. The winners will likely be polarized, with niche vertical communities on one end of the spectrum and full-blown aggregators on the other end.

Local Search & Geo-targeted Advertising
A greater number of small businesses need to market in the down economy and are naturally turning to the Web. While existing localized and geo-targeted search services are fairly robust, they will continue to expand and evolve to meet the needs of one of the largest contributors to the US economy: small business. Small companies that understand SEO, PPC, social media and Google’s OneBox will gain tremendous competitive advantage. Similarly, agencies that provide a customized service set for local SEM will fare well in 2009 as larger companies compress marketing budgets.

Todd Mintz

Google will implement Web Archive-like functionality at a much more sophisticated level than is currently offered (for what else can they do with search that hasn’t been done)?

Paid search advertising rules will loosen considerably (so that one can bid on keywords for anything that’s not obviously illegal).

The demand for search marketing services will skyrocket and there won’t be nearly enough experienced providers to help them. Therefore, the demand for search marketing employees will also skyrocket.

By the end of 2009, the most popular Twitters will have in excess of 1 Million followers. Twitter will go even more mainstream and will be used in new and better ways that none of us can currently conceptualize. Great if you run a website promotion company.

Todd Mintz
Todd Mintz knows PPC...knows Social Media...knows SEO...knows Blogging...knows Domaining...and knows them all real well. He is also a Director & Founding Member of SEMpdx: Portland, Oregon's Search Engine Marketing Association. He is a Senior Account Manager for 3Q Digital and is also a Director & Founding Member of SEMpdx: Portland, Oregon's Search Engine Marketing Association, and he can be found here on Google+.
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