Change Is (Always) Coming…

This week, a prospect asked me if I could share a little background information on what I’ve done, where I’ve been, and experience that I’ve had.

Rather than just speak to my experience directly in search engine optimization, I took them back…way back…and gave them a quick overview of my entire professional history. Today, I’m sharing this with you. In a moment, you’ll realize why.

I started my career in local radio advertising in Dallas, moved to a “rep firm” in Los Angeles, representing television stations across North America, selling television ad space. Then, I moved back to Dallas to work at “The Dallas Morning News.” This is where it gets a bit interesting.

For five years, I sold ad space for “The Dallas Morning News.” I was there from 1995 through 2000. My account list consisted of some large retailers, such as Best Buy, Sears, Home Depot, and the like. Clients would want to run inserts in the paper, quarter-page ads, full-page ads, or whatever. I gotta say, life was pretty easy. I would fill out my insertion orders for the month, and – on occasion – get a call to get some additional ads placed throughout the month. At the end of the month, I would send a client “tearsheets” (rip pages out of the paper and mail them to the clients) to “prove” that the advertising was “working” (running?). But, generally speaking, I didn’t have to work too hard. I did play a lot of golf. Life was nice and easy.

Winds of Change Started Blowing…

I had been approached to join AOL, when it opened a Dallas office. I wasn’t too eager to jump over, as life was pretty sweet. Then, I had this feeling that “this interactive thing” just might take off. So, when the opportunity came to jump over to Lycos, in early 2000, I had to do it. Lycos was one of the leading search engines at the time.

Mind you, this was just prior to the bubble burst of 2000. It was very exciting. I flew around the country, my first week, meeting some awesome people that worked for Lycos (and Wired Digital, which Lycos had acquired). Then, I landed in Dallas and started my first week selling ads for Lycos, and its network.

I sold my first client pretty quickly, upon my return to Dallas. Within an hour of placing their ads in rotation, I received a call from this client.

“My ads aren’t working.”

Life Had Changed

Seriously? I just left a place where I did a month’s worth of work in about three days and now I had a client that was claiming – after one hour – that his ads weren’t working? Click-through rates were terrible? Impression levels were not what we had anticipated? Huh?

At that moment, I realized that I was either going to stick this out, and get on top of this, or I needed to go find another print publication to sell advertising for. Long story short, I stuck out two years at Lycos. Most of my advertising engagements were sold on a CPM (define) impression basis. CPM rates would fluctuate around $10 to $75 CPM, depending on the targeted nature of the ads, search ads being the “prime real estate.” Just when I started to feel pretty comfortable about things, Overture started selling ads on a CPC (define) basis, and that rocked my world, once again. The bubble had burst, click through rates had plummeted, and now a competitor was offering up what all marketers wanted – a performance-based model for search advertising. Needless to say, it became very difficult to meet sales goals. After the Dallas office for Lycos folded, I joined AOL Time Warner (right after their merger) and then started an SEO agency, in 2003.

Change Is Always Happening…

My mind has adjusted now to the fact that things change in this industry, and often. According to a report on Wired, from earlier this year, Google will make approximately 550 improvements to its algorithm in 2010.

Now, keep in mind, it’s not just about algorithm improvements. It’s also about the fact that SEO has evolved a lot since 2003. Today’s SEO can encompass blogging, social media marketing, public relations efforts, lots of copywriting, analytics expertise, etc. Last year, I wrote a column, “Perfect SEO.” There’s simply a lot that can go into a search engine optimization project.

This month, we’re faced with another pretty radical change.


Some of you may remember that time when Google started powering AOL’s search results. That was 2002.

This month, Yahoo has started testing Bing-powered search on

This is another big deal in our industry. Major change. For some of you, this is going to be fruitful, and for others – who may currently do very well on Yahoo, organically, this could be a challenge. The fact that Bing-powered results are now on and, you now have to pay close attention to how you’re performing on Bing.

According to Comscore, Google’s Site lead marketshare with ownership of about 62.6 percent of all searches in the United States. Yahoo sites were showing 18.9 percent and Microsoft sites (including Bing), 12.7 percent share. So, generally speaking, we’re talking about Bing’s search results powering 31.6 percent of the market.

That’s a pretty major change. According to comScore, in June 2009 Microsoft’s sites had a market share of 8.4 percent.

I’m as guilty as the next SEO. I’ve always been pretty Google-centric. I figured that as long as clients did well on Google, I wouldn’t get terribly obsessed about Yahoo or Bing.

But Bing-Yahoo is a game changer. And, perhaps that’s good. If Google rose to power, as it did around the time of its integration into AOL, then why can’t the same thing happen with Bing?

Google’s offering is more compelling at the moment.

But, winds of change are blowing. And in 2000, when I entered into the interactive marketing space, I would have never predicted Google being the dominant search engine.

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