Many of my fellow Resolution Medians are focusing on the present this New Year’s Day, I’m sure, since as of this writing Illinois is down 21-3 at halftime in the Rose Bowl, and like good Illini they’re hoping the Juice can come through in the end. As a Buckeye, however, I’m looking to next week’s national championship, which gives me time today to look a little toward the future of mobile marketing and SEO. If you’ve got time as well, join me for a minute as I spend this first afternoon of 2008 reflecting on several up and coming trends in the industry and presenting what I hope will be several positive outcomes for this new year.


1. Mobile Marketing and SEO Finally Converge


Mobile marketers, it’s time to start thinking search. In a recent Mobile Insider, Steve Smith reflects on the Unasked Questions that should be asked in any mobile marketing campaign, but historically aren’t. Brands are often so eager to “get into this mobile thing” that they’re not doing it as effectively as they could. In pushing for more effective campaigns, Smith quotes Milennial Media CEO Paul Palmieri in stressing content creation over advertising for effective mobile marketing:


“Paul echoes a mantra I hear ever more in this industry: Advertising is not the strongest use of mobile. ‘Implementing post-click, value-add mobile solutions such as interactive rich-media experiences, mobile video, contests, games and more helps to build brand loyalty and ongoing consumer engagement,” he says. “Beyond the banner” used to be a rallying cry for new ad formats on the Web circa 1999. On mobile, perhaps “after the banner” is the better marching order.’”


When you consider this new mantra, along with eMarketer’s prediction that user-generated mobile content is on the rise, you’ll probably come to the conclusion that mobile users are going to need some way to find all of this new content made for their handheld devices, with those mobile devices. One of the least intrusive ways currently (if not the least intrusive way) to get this content to mobile users is through mobile search engines. Nonetheless, the current state of mobile marketing is more about SMS, banners, and couponing.


By all accounts, mobile marketing grew in 2007, as it has been growing steadily since its inception. In order for it to keep growing, however, it seems as though mobile marketers need to start thinking of it as a pull, rather than a push, medium. At some point in 2008 I hope this comes to fruition, and mobile SEO is considered as part of every serious mobile marketing campaign. To help facilitate this, I will continue to do my part in the New Year to illuminate mobile search optimization, starting with a series of posts on mobile SEO tools, including tactics for mobile keyword research, and optimization using mobile analytics.


2.SEO Community Shifts Focus to Strategy


Unfortunately, even in 2008, it’s almost a given that more traffic is still the sole goal for every SEO campaign. However, with universal search, personalization, mobile search, et al, SEO is no longer about being the first of ten blue links at all costs. Driving traffic is always going to be a priority, I think, but as marketers I would hope that we as a community think more about why we’re driving that traffic, and not just how we drive the most. How does a marketer optimize differently for a branding campaign than they would for direct response, for example, and how does that differ from lead generation, online to offline purchase intent, or reputation management? I’ll be posting more on strategy in 2008, both here and at the Find Resolution blog, and I hope others in the community follow suit. Paid links are so 2007.


3. Search Engines and White Hat SEOs Unite


For those of us who have been doing this for a while, it’s clear that Google has come a long way from their days of banning WebPosition from the index. They’re still against automated queries, but back then the notion of optimizing your web site for visibility in search engines was almost something that couldn’t be spoken about in polite company. Today with Google Webmaster Central, Matt Cutts et al, the company is actively involved in the SEO community– communicating regularly with legitimate webmasters about ways to increase the visibility of their site(s) in Google. In fact, through the Sitemaps protocol, Yahoo! SiteExplorer, and the new Live Search Webmaster Tool, all of the major engines have stepped up their webmaster communication efforts in 2007. Finally, in case anyone forgot, 2007 was the year that Google bought Performics and Microsoft bought Avenue A/Razorfish, making them both owners of SEO firms. Though it’s not clear at this point how the engines will handle these acquisitions in order to prevent a conflict of interest, it’s very clear that the lines between search engines and search engine optimization have blurred.


If the engines want to continue to blur the lines (and every indication is that this trend will continue), one welcome addition to the scene would be a certification program similar to Google Advertising Professionals, but for webmasters. All the major engines have some sort of resource currently for SEO education. It would help tremendously in solving the search marketing staffing problem and in providing reliable quality assurance if the search engines standardized the information they already have into some sort of certification program. A joint effort with SEMPO Institute perhaps? An extension of Sitemaps protocol? Stay tuned.


Regardless of what happens, if 2008 is anything like 2007 for mobile marketing and SEO, it should be an interesting year! Thanks for reading Natural Search and Mobile SEO in 2007. Stick around in 2008 for what’s sure to be the best year yet.


Although not, I’m sorry to say, for Illinois, who at the end of this post are history.