SearchTHIS: Celebrating 100 Columns

Some people believe that everything happens for a reason. I believe that one must have a reason for doing everything. A few short years ago, I brought search marketing to iMedia Communications because I believed it was an understated form of online marketing with tremendous potential.

I thought silly little artistically benign search ads might become critically important to online marketers. I was partially right and after a dozen or so bi-weekly contributions to the greater iMedia good, SearchTHIS was born with one simple idea; no-nonsense search engine marketing editorial with a little moxy.

Well, a lot has changed in this business in the last hundred Tuesdays. Google has become a household name, search has a seat at the online marketing table and I somehow played a small role in keeping everyone informed. On that note my friends, here’s a look back at the top five percent of SearchTHIS, ranked according to the amount of your feedback I received.

Instigated Public Optimization

You can’t say search without saying Google. For a while there, trying to figure out when Google was going public was the talk of the town yet very few people were thinking about the changes that were about to occur and the effect Wall Street has on the firms we adore.

The love-in formed by visionaries quickly takes a back seat to the love of money and the obligatory love of shareholders. A lesser man might climb on his high horse about calling this one out but I don’t have to since so many of you have done it for me.

For Whom the Search Bell Tolls

Time marches on. Even as we think of search marketing as a complicated, specialized discipline, consolidation in the industry has initiated at least one or two thoughts about the future of the unique shops that can do search justice like no one else can.

Or wait a minute; maybe someone else actually can do the work. It seems the search sites aren’t all that crazy about the intermediaries. Pure-play brands are bringing the discipline in-house and where do you think the big spending traditional brands look for advice in their time of need? Why their agencies of course.

I suppose one could argue there are plenty of middle market companies out there in need of search advice. One could also argue that by virtue of the fact that agencies are taking their sweet time in learning about search, an opportunity is created for the search engine marketing firms. Wait, are SEMs now called agencies as well? I am so confused. 

Looking for a Break 

Writing a weekly column is loads of fun. It’s also a lot of work and it looks much easier than it is. The pay won’t get you into Trump Tower, either. Sometimes we even have to take our laptops on vacation with us. I did, and of course had a plan for what Tig Tillinghast’s Marketing Vox later called “strangely interesting and sometimes funny …” and “long and oddly captivating.”

In this instance, I took a long drive -- a pilgrimage really -- to look into a big hole beyond the desert. If Carl Sandburg was right and each man does see himself in the Grand Canyon I saw and later found myself on the way there.

Along with a couple of really groovy revelations along the way, I was reminded that the rest of the world has yet to catch up with us technocrats. Some were so far behind us it was as though I was speaking another language. Strange that people in a digital cave seem quite happy with their lives. I wonder if there is a lesson to be learned here.

Enter the C.O.LO.N.

I lied. That wasn’t the last time I was going to write about search spam. This is.

I really liked the idea of forming an industry group that would help focus on standards and best practices for natural search listings. I still do. Set the standards and leave the algorithms and other ranking methods to the engines.

It hasn’t gotten any easier to find what you are looking for in the past couple of years; we have simply figured out how to capitalize on the confusion with paid listings and graphic advertisements.

As search begins to converge with other forms of media and entertainment, the golden data eggs, i.e., search queries, will hold the keys to critical digital human interactions that we have only begun to understand today.

Why Search is Slowing

All good things must come to an end. Search isn’t ending but at the very least, its growth had to slow. Convergence and the marriage of data with integrated analysis will be the future of search engine marketing, or whatever it will be called.

All that new growth money has fed platforms such as video, relevant sponsored listings in mail, and voice over internet protocol -- they are just the beginning. Clearly, someone will have to be there to watch it all go down and help put the pieces together. I, for one, am looking forward to it.

Life is like a box of keywords

Anyone that has ever taken the time to write anything knows that it can be a love and a curse. Forgoing of normal life to crank out a thousand words of cogent writing each week has its rewards and its risks.

For instance, every piece you love will most certainly be the one your audience hates. Without fail, for every one reader that thinks you got it right, a thousand will take the time to call you a hapless twit.

With that thought in mind here are a few that didn’t make the top five list: There’s the predecessor of The Search Bell and the SearchTHIS Christmas special. Lastly, no one who was there could ever forget the iMedia Summit Beaver Creek death ride

The last hundred Tuesdays has been a fun ride and I’d like to thank you for sticking around to enjoy it with me. With any luck, the next hundred Tuesdays will be just as exciting as the last. With a little more luck, I’ll still be around to write about it.

iMedia Search Editor Kevin Ryan’s current and former … hold on a second. This is the part of my column in which you can read about all of the wonderful things that qualify me to write. I think I have pretty much covered that at this point, but if you are really interested in reading my bio, swing on back next week at about this time and I will be happy to accommodate you.

This week I would like to use this space to send out a very special thanks to a lady who well deserves such gratitude and more, my Mom. For the past 28 years, she has prepared America’s youth by teaching the three Rs and a few tools that youngsters may need as they go out to face the world. Mom retired last week and I can’t help but think the world of education has lost something.

Without further banter, I would simply like to say three things. One, a very proud thanks to a lady that despite never being in a feature film or elected office has left her mark on the world. Two, congratulations on your retirement, may you enjoy every minute of it. Three, please get an email address and give the internet a try. It will be the only way I can prove to you that search marketing is in fact “a real job.”

Mr. Ryan is the principal of Kinetic Results, Inc. a New York-based online presence management firm.

Meet Kevin Ryan at AD:TECH Chicago, July 11, 2005.