Chris Sherman, Executive Editor of SearchEngineLand.com talks to Plug in SEO at SMX London
Read the transcript or watch the Plug in SEO video interview
How's SMX London 2009 gone so far?
Today's gone really well. We're very pleased at the turnout. With the economic turmoil we've been having we weren't sure how it was going to be impacted, and it turns out search seems to be still thriving and doing really really well.
Why do you think search is thriving in these economic situations?
I think basically, it was interesting in the keynote today, we had an observation that search is still not getting the mind share that it deserves among the Global 1000 Chief Marketing Officers. A very, very interesting statistic: something like just one or two percent of the people who are CMOs that control budgets are still allocating money towards search. So that suggests that we're still very, very early on.
The other thing that is obvious is that search is very accountable. It's measurable. It's something where people can actually say we know what out ROI is.
We're not, in the classic old Wanamaker sense, knowing that half of our advertising bill is being wasted, and so on.
So I think that's why. And I think we're actually going to see that trend accelerate. A lot of people have said that search is plateaued, Google's growth is slowing and can't grow any more, but if we still have the majority of CMOs, globally, not giving much attention to it, then it's the exact opposite conclusion: we're just getting started.
Why isn't search marketing getting the attention it deserves?
The primary reason I think is that traditional marketers have grown up with things that they've been comfortable with: television, print, radio, and there's just a natural inertia to stay with what you're familiar with.
But what's happened now with the economic dislocation that we've had is that there's lots of challenges being made to assumptions to find what works best.
To get or keep that competitive edge so many industries are so threatened right now with everything that's going on in the world that search is actually emerging as a really viable alternative- it's just going to take time.
How do you think the UK differs, if any, from the US?
This is a really good question. I've been programming shows in the UK for I guess seven or eight years now and in the past there has been a gap in terms of knowledge and skills, and I think that gap is largely closed.
I really think that the level of sophistication that we're seeing here, the quality of the presentations, the approaches that the search marketers who've been speaking are taking, and so on is really world class. It's really quite interesting.
In terms of perception of the industry, do you think that differs any between continents?
The perception definitely varies. I think what we're starting to see is that search marketing is evolving in a way where the people in different countries expect certain things from search marketing.
So in other words there's an example with China who have no problem at all with including sponsored search listings in organic results- they don't see that as any kind of problem.
Paid search in China is not as big as it is elsewhere in world, but I think that's primarily because most people in China don't have a credit card either: they're not looking to buy online, they don't have that trust or the mechanisms in place.
So it's really the cultural differences I think have to do with it as much as what's going on in a particular country as much as anything else. It's not really a generic thing with search marketing.
What have been your highlights from SMX London?
This panel that we've just had- multivariate testing of landing pages panel- I thought was fantastic. What you saw there was really concrete examples of how applying search first of all is very cost-effective and profitable but also how you can have continual improvement to even increase the effectiveness. I came away quite impressed by that.
Anything in tomorrow's session you have your eye on?
We've got lots of different content, all through the show. It's been fun. It's always fun to programme these. I have an idea in my head of what I think is important, and what I think should be discussed, but then it goes to the individual speakers who can really add their point of view, their experience and knowledge.