SearchTHIS: Happy ValenSearch Day

Yes, I know Valentine’s Day was yesterday but search love should be occurring throughout the year. Besides, right about now, you might be looking at last night’s dinner check and wondering how the chicken French dish you love so much went from being a $20 plate to an integral part of a $200 six-course meal.

It’s easy to understand isn’t it? You simply can’t leave your valentine hanging on the most sacred of all romantic holidays … and the popular holiday people know that. That's why the invariable Valentine's day price gouging festivities always come at the expense of poor romantic saps like me who, despite the knowledge of receiving the shaft, can't resist an over-commercialized night out.

For a lot of us, search engine marketing is a labor of love, yet many of the old timers in search are wondering how the search entrée has become so complicated and so despicably mainstream. As usual, I am on the other side, so while I am checking the tab on my one-day-only "new and improved" $150 roses (up from the day's before $19.99) I thought I’d wax poetic with the top ten things I love about search (not necessarily in order of importance).

1) The future of search

Everyone’s wondering what will happen with search, and even the prognosticators are having a difficult time with this one. No one’s really sure about the entire package (where to buy, what to buy, how to buy) yet they are pretty sure search is important. I am, however, looking forward to the coming search shake-out (12 to 18 months) when the search budget explosion dies down and only the strongest will be left doing business in the space.

2) Search blogs

Even yours truly gets shocked from time to time when I read one of my columns translated into some foreign language that I can’t understand and even the Google translator won’t help me. Some of them have accurate information, some of them don’t, but if you really want the low down on search from every disgruntled search site employee or dissatisfied entrepreneur from a search industry organization, head on out and check the millions of search engine blogs.

3) The eBay and Amazon paid search phenomenon

Try and search for anything and you will find a way to buy it on eBay or Amazon. The great part is, you will probably find it for sale on one of these two sites. Well apparently, I am for sale on eBay. Check out the search result listings for “Kevin Ryan” and “Rubber Chicken.”

Kevin Ryan Sale
New & used Kevin Ryan.
Check out the deals now!
Rubber Chicken at Amazon
Low prices on rubber chicken.
Qualified orders over $25 ship free
I was actually pretty surprised at how much the "used" version of me was going for and if you are ordering more than $25 worth of rubber chickens you probably shouldn’t have a credit card in your possession.

4) Natural search

A reader once quipped in an email response to an optimization column, “Organic search listings are about as natural as Pamela Lee’s chest.” I would argue that Pam has many great organically grown attributes. Of course, the really entertaining portion of natural search and the optimization game are the handy dandy tricks people engineer to try and cheat the search sites -- I love them, it’s called spamming folks, stop screwing around and get down to business.

5) Special Interest Groups

Anyone who wants to can form a committee about anything and decide they are after the best interests of all of us. I am a consumer advocate, hear me roar. Okay, and every celebrity wants our nation’s disadvantaged to start getting really high paying jobs. In the online world, while the special interest groups should be cracking down on no-good affiliates and the cheats selling fake watches on auction sites they are going after paid listings and their “sponsored” labels. There’s a whole lotta people out there with far too much time on their hands.

6) Danny Sullivan

It’s time to give this man a lifetime achievement award. Since he has been championing the cause of search long before there was a cause to champion, you simply can’t be talking about search unless you reference something Danny has looked upon or talked about. The founder of, and the successful search engine marketing conferences, Search Engine Strategies, Danny has been doing the search thing since long before search became cool. Search is still cool, isn’t it?

7) Search engine marketing guides

They purport to offer you unbiased “research” on the best search engine marketing companies the world has to offer. The problem is, most of them haven’t done any search engine marketing since Alta Vista was “the site” to be listed on. To make a long story endless, it’s ok to read the “guides” but do your own research to find the right fit for your organization.

8) The search mêlée

This is not what you think. The search mêlée is not occurring between websites for audience mindshare. Oh, no! The big search scuffle occurs with marketers, their respective advisory (e.g. agencies) firms, industry organizations, and the search sites themselves. The space has become so complicated that everyone is reaching to almost anyone for search advice. A close cousin to number one on this list and the bastard child of number nine, the search mêlée promises to make every day in a search marketer’s life an interesting one -- whichever side of the budget they happen to be sitting on.

9) Clients

God bless them, every one. Without clients I would have very little to write about each week. The beneficiaries of the search mêlée, clients are often confused about what to do with whom and what to make of search. Every day another big business CEO discovers how to “Google” his own company and picks up the phone to yell at someone for the listing not being number one. Hat’s off to the precious few who realize that simple and easy to use doesn’t necessarily mean better, as well as those who realize that search is more than a box to check on the marketing “to do” list.

10) Mainstream press

Can the founders of Google possibly be placed on any more magazine covers? How about newspapers? They are not on the cover of the yellow pages yet, and the last time I checked it’s still Gray’s Anatomy, not Google’s. We love mainstream press writers and editors when they bring search to top of mind, and we hate them when they encapsulate search engine marketing into a 50-word sidebar on the last page of a weekly. Some of them actually tell the story of our search lives beside advertorials for over-merchandized holidays, of course.

Two more for the road

The moral of the story is there are lots of reasons to love this business. To date, I have learned at least two things from a career in advertising. One, a little levity goes a long way. Two, taking yourself or what happens between the four walls of any firm too seriously in no way makes life come up roses -- even the rare $150 per dozen variety.

iMedia Search Editor Kevin Ryan’s current and former client roster reads like a “who’s who” in big brands; Rolex Watch, USA, State Farm Insurance, Farmers Insurance, Minolta Corporation, Samsung Electronics America, Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Panasonic Services, and the Hilton Hotels brands, to name a few. Ryan believes in sound guidance, creative thought, accountable actions and collaborative execution as applied to search, or any form of marketing. His principled approach and staunch commitment to the industry have made him one of the most sought after personalities in online marketing. Ryan volunteers his time with the Interactive Advertising Bureau, Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization, and several regional non-profit organizations.

Ryan serves as Executive Vice President at the search engine marketing specialist agency, Did-it.Com.