How the SEO Bubble Will Pop
Ian Lurie Aug 6 2008
I just realized we’re in an SEO bubble. There’s been an explosion of SEO consultants, companies, books, conferences, etc.. Everyone’s cashing in.
Then, of course, I did some checking and noticed I’m about 6 months behind other bloggers who pointed this out in late 2007.
So, I thought I’d fast forward a bit, and ponder how this lovely, cash-filled bubble will eventually pop. I have three theories. Let me know what you think:
The Slow Meltdown
As more and more companies move their SEO practices in-house and SEO techniques become common knowledge (cough), SEO firms will find fewer large clients. The bigger agencies will either adapt and learn to work with many smaller accounts or die.
Why I’m right: More companies are moving their SEO teams in-house.
Why I’m wrong: I recently spoke to someone who thought you could pay someone at Google to rank #1 in the organic rankings. He didn’t hire me because he thought I was a moron. Clearly, we’re in no danger of SEO becoming ‘common knowledge’.
The Sudden Extinction
A severe economic crisis so hampers corporate marketing budgets that they slash everything, driving us poor SEOs out of business. By the time everyone picks up their heads (and wallets) again, other marketing possibilities exist. SEO is less relevant, and I end up running a bicycle shop.
Why I’m right: Haven’t you read William Gibson? The end times are upon us!
Why I’m wrong: In 1929, the Great Depression killed many agencies. But many others survived, flourished and are still around today (if a bit crusty). Even our current President can’t kill the economy as badly as the Depression did. So I don’t think we have to worry about this one.
A Tough Adolescence
The industry shakes out. While many rip-off artists stick around, even more go away. Competent individuals move to agencies or continue as consultants. Corporations become smarter consumers of our services.
Why I’m right: This is already happening. Internet marketing and SEO are in their adolescence. It’ll last a little longer. But our clients are increasingly savvy, and they won’t tolerate lousy results or service for long.
Why I’m wrong: I’m not wrong on this one. In spite of some spectacular examples of ripoff artists making it big, they’re getting caught, too. The industry is slowly, painfully coming of age.
What do you think?
Am I nuts? Are we headed for a horrific crash? Should I go take a bike mechanic refresher course?…
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More