From the Diary of a Corporate SEM Manager

Dear Diary,

I’m packing my bags and heading to Chicago next week to attend my fourth Search Engine Strategies (SES) show this year. It’s always interesting to touch base with some of the best and brightest search engine marketing (SEM) professionals in the business. It’s the primary reason I attend so many SES shows each year.

Best of Show

As a corporate SEM specialist, I’m challenged to explain in plain English how search engines work to sales and marketing managers, IT and finance executives… and lawyers. I teach writers and designers how to prepare relevant content and search-engine friendly code for the Web. I instruct product managers how to kick off pay-for-performance marketing campaigns. And I wrangle with network engineers and system administrators, explaining why I need server space to track the performance of each SEM initiative.

Yes, I spend most of my time enlightening non-search professionals about SEM strategies. What I desire more than anything else is an intelligent conversation about the state of the SEM industry. SES shows give me that opportunity.

Worst of Show

Though I teach and practice best practices for some of the top e-commerce and online companies in North America, I still need to understand how worst practices work. This is another reason why I attend so many SES shows each year.

The shows provide a curious opportunity to run into some of the worst so-called search engine marketers in the business: Those purveyors of questionable SEM tactics who cast a dark cloud over the legitimacy of the entire industry.

Search engine spammers and shammers run roughshod over the Google algorithm and corporate America alike. To a certain extent, I owe the search engine spammers and shammers my career. Were it not for the spammers peddling ways to artificially inflate a corporate Web site’s search engine positioning by way of questionable organic optimization tactics, Fortune 1000 firms’ headhunters wouldn’t like me so much.

I also owe the shammers: those so-called SEM firms that hound IT, sales, and marketing executives into making poor decisions. You know who I’m talking about. Those shammers sell corporate America a bill of goods. Without their “You’ll be number one in Google” pitches to corporate America, we wouldn’t have clear definitions of cloaking. Without their one-time SEO (define) “solutions,” we wouldn’t know how to look for doorway pages. Without their questionable linking strategies, PageRank might actually still be important.

SEM shammers remind me of the snake oil salesmen. I can just see the SEM shammers hittin’ the Web with a carpetbag full of tricks to be sold as only carefully spieled techno-sales jargon can sell.

Yep, the shammers have provided corporate America with yet another reason to hire folks like me. I sort through their garbage and fix what they break. Thank you all very much for that.

Parting Thoughts

Even though much of my role in corporate America is teaching best practices and exposing worst practices, my job is ultimately to be an SEM advocate. And I know my job is done when I’ve shared my knowledge of the SEM industry, best-practice SEO tactics, and successful paid-performance strategies with anyone and everyone who’s willing to listen, learn, and practice.

Ultimately, my goal is to make myself obsolete. If I do my job well, everyone in any corporation — and I do mean everyone — will optimize all the time.

So, dear Diary, I leave you with these thoughts: Thanks to the spammers and shammers for making folks like me a business imperative to corporate America’s Web performance. And thanks to Jupiter Events for giving Danny Sullivan, Chris Sherman, and a host of other SEM professionals a reason to gather in Chicago next week. Collectively, you keep me challenged, invigorated, and performing at the top of my game.

Join us for Search Engine Strategies in Chicago, IL, December 13-16.

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