Jan 4, 2013
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Local media forecaster Borrell Associates has attempted to capture the totality of spending on ?digital marketing services? in the US. Borrell argues that ?businesses will shell out an estimated $613 billion in DMS? in 2016, an amount many times larger than ?ad spending.?

The report is principally focused on spending by small businesses.

Forecast says SEO-related spending will be worth $80 billion by 2020

I've been betting on organic search since 2005. I have to say that I see a very bright future for seo, local seo, ppc, display (despite ad blockers), retargeting, ripping fast responsive websites, UX and content that make the phone or register ring.

How about you guys? Anyone else kicking doors down and paying bills in digital? If so, what's the future look like?

Linda Buquet

Local Search Expert
Jun 28, 2012
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Thanks Cody! Nice positive Sunday post! :)

Hopefully we can get a good discussion going tomorrow, if not today.


LocalU Faculty
Jul 18, 2012
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Well it's kind of funny because at Local U David Mihm was talking about how he thinks SEO is not going to be as big in the future (you were there so I won't remind you). I am not sure I really agree. I'm optimistic about the future for SEO. I think it's only going to get harder which will weed out the losers and hopefully be better for those of us who are not on the dark side :)
Oct 25, 2013
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Definitely Cody! I'm excited to be a part of this industry, and I see it on the rise as well. Here are a few thoughts I have looking forward:

Rankbrain and Google's move towards deep learning. I do believe that this is where the future is heading across the board (in everything from hardware design to search) but there's going to be some interesting hurdles I imagine that come with no human truly understanding what's going on under the hood anymore, either inside or outside of Google. It might become more challenging to make meaningful improvements to client campaigns if the algorithms evolve to be too opaque, and I hate getting involved in a project and not ultimately being able to exceed expectations. All the more reason to pay careful attention and take notes wherever possible.

with only 3 map listings, 4 ads up top, and potentially more white space in between, space in the SERPs is going to get more competitive and more valuable for those who can get it. Google adwords already had it's wild west heyday end years ago, cost per click is high enough now in most industries that it's only feasible for businesses that are savvy enough to do the math and track how ad spend relates with new customers and revenue. It's a little different when it comes to small businesses though, since there's plenty of big corporations PPC salesmen out there convincing small business owners to buy into ineffective packages. No ROI doesn't necessarily mean no clients for your program I guess, but I do think it's going to lead to more small business owners feeling like their marketing team is under performing, especially if spend is going up in areas where opportunity is going down. Large one-size-fits-all corporations relying on 'good enough' results are probably going to find it more of a struggle going forward from here. As you pointed out though Cody, there's a massive amount of always emerging new opportunities, so it's not like outreach space is shrinking, it's just diversifying.


Oct 28, 2014
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Well it's kind of funny because at Local U David Mihm was talking about how he thinks SEO is not going to be as big in the future (you were there so I won't remind you). I am not sure I really agree. I'm optimistic about the future for SEO. I think it's only going to get harder which will weed out the losers and hopefully be better for those of us who are not on the dark side :)

I'm w/ you Joy.

Unless someone/something changes the industry where all-a-sudden the average Joe is able to handle all the nausea that comes with making sure your company is represented correctly (and in the best places), I don't foresee SEO going away anytime soon (Hurray for complexity! #jobsecurity).

I suspect that SEO will change (a lot of it already has - IMO) into Digital Brand Management and most companies will have to have a person like us on staff (or retainer) to remain relevant & consistent.

For a lot of these businesses it doesn't make sense to handle SEO themselves... most don't know where to begin (or lack the bandwidth required to be successful). I see SEO splitting into 2 distinct silos - technical SEO and brand management.

Wouldn't it be nice to have one dollar for every time someone said 'SEO is dead'? :|


Jul 22, 2012
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Great share Cody. I'm very optimistic about the future of search and even more optimistic about it getting more complex. I definitely think that effective strategies will start to look different and require more work. Hopefully this weeds out the chop shops and black hatters and the industry finally gets its well-deserved nod. If the increase in complexity is obvious enough, it may lead to businesses seeing the need to spend more than before.


Jan 4, 2013
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I completely agree with your points Mike.

Our average recurring SEO retainers for local clients raised from $650 on average in 2011 to $2250 in April 2016. And our SEO target audience has not changed. Mostly local brick in mortar in service related fields, specifically dental, medical, legal, restuarant. Restaurants being the exception to the rule for us. Most of our clients tend to average about $250 - $1,800 per conversion before considering lifetime value.

Another interesting note is that my sales staff do not have fixed or set rate plans. We are letting SMB set budgets. However, I can only take on 12 to 15 new projects each month without mass kaos. So, that helps keep retainers higher because we can't take on all the work some months - first and 4th qtr. specifically.

We also have some of the same local businesses with another 1,500 to 2,500 in local spend for native advertising which is a lot more fun than blogs posts. Not to mention - rewarding in terms of unstructured citation building and locally focused link building. I'll eat rel="nofollow" all day long from local media sources if they will offer full citation plus 1 main content to supporting content from our site. Its not cheap but its cheaper than not ranking.
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