Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Get found when you're down

Just yesterday, the stock market dipped again. You don't need me to tell you this. Even so, I just did. But I want to get it out there that I know you don't need me to.

It's interesting. Given the plunges of Biblical proportions that occurred last month, yesterday's drop didn't seem that bad. Nevertheless, people are hurting, wondering where the economy might be headed, hoping that the destination isn't what it seems.

But here's why I'm telling you all this:

We who operate under the broad umbrella of search engine marketing can take solace. New research strongly suggests that SEM might be the sweet spot poised to weather the gathering economic storm largely unscathed.

Amid adverse economic conditions, SEM is gaining in popularity among businesses seeking an online marketing method that yields "measurable returns," reports Zero Strategy, which cites an ongoing study into the matter by Sempo UK. Natural listings receive the majority of clicks in the search ecosystem, with more than 80 percent of all activity occurring in the natural search space, according to Conductor, Inc., whose recently announced research into Fortune 500 firms revealed that less than 30 percent register any presence in natural search.

In other words, we're in that sweet spot I just mentioned. Companies of all kinds want to try SEM as a marketing tactic at a time when their accountants are scruitinizing the books. This is good news. It means they think their accountants will like the idea. And, with all those large companies failing to take full advantage of natural search, the opportunity is there for smaller players to absorb the real estate for themselves, under the radar.

Plenty of aspiring thought leaders can use natural search to their advantage, as well. A colleague of mine, Susan Friedmann, does so herself. She also hosts her own online radio show. Called "Riches in Niches Radio." Susan's show airs every other Tuesday, at 8pm EST, on Just recently, her guest discussed how she harnessed the power of natural search to catapult her own business into the limelight. You may listen to the recording simply clicking on part one and part two, both archived mp3 files.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Web 0.0

Before Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 entered the lexicon, and before talk surfaced of Web 3.0, we lived in a Web-free world, a world worlds apart from our world today.

During Web 0.0, the Web was only an Internet, and without the pretty pictures, fancy functionalities and august applications. Nobody talked about this Internet. Normal people didn't talk about it, anyway. Most didn't even know about it. The vast majority of us interacted face-to-face or via phones (many of which sported rotary dials). Truckers and other cool people used CB radios. Only geeks and the military found themselves interacting via electronic mail with others from disparate, sometimes remote locations, and only geeks and the military would have understood their lot in this way.

The Internet of yore was serious, solely for the conducting of serious business. And that serious business wasn't even business; it was serious scientific research and the serious matter of national security, both facilitated by real-time communication. Life was slower for everyone else, who also went about their business, commerce or personal, in real-time, but didn't know it was in real-time, or off-line, even though it was.

Sit there. Imagine what this world must have been like. If you're old enough, conserve those creative juices and simply remember. Civilization still managed to advance by leaps and bounds over the many years that predated the Web, and progress progressed at a breakneck pace for the many more years that predated the Internet. We don't need the Web, but it's a blessing to have.

As counterintuitive as it may seem, the Web is becoming more and more like Web 0.0. It's growing ever more organic and natural. Organic is a buzzword, of course, and natural is one of those empty descriptors that annoy professional writers. What I mean is the Web is trying to get back to Web 0.0, but with a twist. Many-to-many communication is slowly but surely achieving the same fluidity that one-to-one communication has always enjoyed without the aid of high technology. The Web is growing ever more efficient.

Think of interaction without the interference of high-tech media. It's natural and effortless. It's organic. Interaction in a Web 0.0 world -- which still exists, by the way -- is efficient, albeit archaic and constrained by inherent limitations of logistics. But the Web has limitations, too: the limitations of technology. As we've striven to render Web 1.0, Web 2.0 and beyond as Web 0.0 as possible, we've been painfully aware of these limitations.

And that's the point. In everything we do online, we pine for the Web to be as natural, effortless and organic as Web 0.0 has always been, but without the limitations that led great minds to lay the groundwork for the Web in the first place. We search for the efficiency we enjoy when we share dinner and a conversation with a friend or colleague, but on a grand scale and with the speed that technology allows.

In our quest to get back to a Web 0.0 world, we look for it within the Web. In our attempt to communicate ever more efficiently online, we create Web 0.0 redux.