Monday, March 5, 2007

Big Shift in Search Landscape Coming?

Here's some interesting news I saw in a MarketingVox story: seems that, according to the blog Search Engine Land, Microsoft filed for a patent in which an algorithm is described that would remove a company's organic search listing if a paid ad showing the same base URL appears on the same page. This looks like an attempt to shift search-oriented revenue from SEO agencies who specialize in natural search to the search engines themselves through paid advertising.

I wonder how SEO professionals are reacting to this? If my client thinks he can ensure top positioning by paying a few cents or dollars per click in paid search advertising, why would he also pay me four or five figures a month to design a spider-friendly site to try to accomplish the same thing? The client might reason that they might be able to save a few bucks by shifting his SEO dollars to PPC and focusing on that.

Of course, given that Google, MSN and now Yahoo have eCPM-based positioning algorithms rather than straight competitive bidding for positioning, it's not as easy as driving up bids to get premium positions, anyway. A good SEO client services person would need to gently explain the potential pitfalls of such strategy without looking baldly self-interested.

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