SAScon Live Blogging Day One: Pay to Play – Are Paid Search and Social Destroying Organic?

Andy Darnell | June 5th 2014

So as the first coffee of the morning kicks in, one of the first sessions was looking at how SEO is standing up to the ever increasing challenge presented by paid and social. Hosted by James Lowery from Compeller, one of the first points that anyone in digital marketing will have gleaned by now is that Google is always going to look to squeeze the cash out of every opportunity presented to it.

So with that in mind we kicked off. Of course we know it’s been a tough year for SEO, with “not provided” and particularly with some of the updates that have seen a large number of companies getting hit – hard. So the question businesses have to ask is are these risk presented worth taking when another update could come along like a tidal wave and wipe out a perfectly valid couple of years’ worth of strategy? An interesting question that many a marketing manager will be wrestling with over the coming months.

James Lowery followed this up stating that businesses are using way more routes to reach their customers. From this the discussion moved along the lines that SEO now almost forms more of a link between the social, content, PR and even paid channels.

So aside from the risk of penalties there has also been the “not provided” aspect that we have seen this year. This has seen SEOs changing tactics in terms of measuring performance. Suggestions from the panel included reverting back to the old-fashioned visibility rankings or using tools like Hitwise to monitor a portfolio of terms.

So we’re all agreed that it’s not been the best year for SEO and of course this will always be compounded by the fact that, as pointed out by one audience member, Silicon Valley companies are more and more being built with the aim of “going public”, at which point of course their priorities change – earning more filthy lucre becomes more important than the original innovation, an ethos which of course will filter down to the humble advertisers who will end up paying more.

Another factor to bear in mind is the huge shift in recent year as to how people access the internet and as we all know with our smart phones, it’s rare that SEO features above the fold any more. So there is in fact a consumer element driving the progression of paid.

However, fear not SEOs! While it was generally agreed that SEO is getting harder as people are forced to become ever more creative, the conclusion to this (all SEO!) panel was that there’s still plenty of value in it.

So get your thinking caps on, exciting times lie ahead on the world of SEO!