The Search Industry Of Tomorrow

The search industry moves fast. I’m always amazed at the pace of evolution and reinvention that occurs in our space. What is true one day is no longer valid the next, and that cycle seems never to end. Even just this past month, as my family and I attempted to break away for some rest and relaxation for the Fourth of July holiday, Google+ launched. I received an early invitation and I was hooked; there went the vacation.

And I was reminded again yesterday of how quickly things can change. It may not come as any big shock that new advertising vehicles or technologies are frequently introduced, but people come and go just as quickly. My friend Alex Cohen wrote an exceptional piece at Search Engine Watch, 10 Key Things I Learned From Working at a Search Startup. Not only was it a great reflective piece on the search industry over the past four years, it operated as Alex’s final sign-off from ClickEquations, a PPC management technology firm that my agency has had a longstanding relationship with.

This was my first indication that Alex had opted to move on in his career, and it struck me as apropos given the topic I was writing about this week. The search industry moves fast. Everything can change in a blink of an eye.

Alex’s retrospective piece got me thinking of the search industry of tomorrow. What will it look like? Who will be leading the charge? Given this pace of change and innovation, what will the next generation of search marketers need to succeed? As I sat with my thoughts on a long flight to San Francisco, I was interrupted by a young man sitting next to me who had noticed that I was reading about Google on my iPad. He asked me if I worked in the online industry and what I did specifically.

We began a dialogue about my work and the industry in general. It turns out he’s involved in the industry too; paying his way through college as an AdSense affiliate promoting a handful of content aggregation sites (yes, I warned him about Panda). We reviewed his sites and I gave him some tips on improving his SEO efforts. He then asked me how people get into the search industry professionally. After all, SEO/SEM isn’t offered at most major universities.

I pointed him first to fellow Search Insider Janet Driscoll Miller’s column: Six Tips for Getting a Job In Search Engine Marketing. Then we discussed where I believe the industry is headed, because staying on top of trends and innovations will be crucial for tomorrow’s practitioners. We discussed a few specific themes that I’ve been observing and following.

But I used that more tactical conversation to make two key points about the changing landscape of the search industry:

1) Search will continue its evolution away from a singular focus on conversion; and

2) Above all else, search marketers of tomorrow must have passion.

And it’s this last piece of advice that I think will really shape the industry of tomorrow. With the current demand for talent far exceeding the available supply, companies are taking what they can get. Tomorrow’s environment will be far more competitive.

Breaking into this industry will still require great skill, but those who also bring great passion to the space will become the most successful.

by Ryan DeShazer
Vice President, Global Practice Leader – Search