A summer interview with… Chris Sherman: “I still firmly believe that we’re just getting started”

A summer interview with… Chris Sherman: “I still firmly believe that we’re just getting started”

7th September 2010

All summer we have been interviewing experts in the industry about their thoughts on the search market, what hot topics there are and more. We’ve seen interviews with the likes of Joost de Valk, Marcus Tandler, Fantomaster, Mike Grehan and Danny Sullivan, and off course our bloggers. It has been a great series. In the near future I will be posting some findings from the different interviews. But we still ‘owe’ you one interview, which has been published in our newsletter, but not yet on the web: Chris Sherman, Executive Editor of Search Engine Land.

1. Can you introduce yourself in one paragraph?

I’ve been working in the search space forever, initially as a searcher, with things like Archie, Gopher and other early non-web (but internet based) tools. I started writing about search when I saw this cool but tiny little directory called Yahoo come online, and haven’t looked back since. Currently Executive Editor of Search Engine Land, and co-chair of the SMX events series. I still enjoy wearing my searcher hat from time-to-time, as a faculty member of Websearch University and a regular speaker at information industry conferences in various locales around the world.

2. What are you doing this summer?

Trying (without as much success as I’d like) to enjoy a holiday! But also continuing day-to-day work with Search Engine Land, and planning our next big SMX conference – SMX East in New York, which seems far away (October 4-6) but in reality requires a lot of attention right now. We’re also spending time incubating new ideas for both Search Engine Land and the conferences that we plan to roll out soon – stay tuned!

3. What is the most hottest subject in search at the moment, what should every SEO be looking into?

Facebook (gah – I can’t believe I wrote that). People now spend more than 4X the amount of time on Facebook than Google, according to research done by Morgan Stanley. Though traditional SEO for Facebook is still in its infancy (and a bit tricky), Facebook offers AdWords-style ads that are both incredibly cheap and very effective – it’s an opportunity for marketers to get in at the beginning in the same way they did when Google launched AdWords. YouTube is also becoming a much richer environment, and I think search marketers should be looking at both SEO and the various ad options offered there – a good way to get ahead of the competition. That doesn’t mean giving up on “traditional” SEM efforts – I just see better opportunity and less competitoin in some of the relatively newer media.

4. What do you think is the “state of search” at the moment, is the industry doing good?

Every time I hear this question I smile. Despite running conferences on search marketing for a decade, and writing about the industry even longer, I still firmly believe that we’re just getting started – and just getting started with something that’s going to be utterly huge. I see nothing but serious growth for the industry for years to come – and with that growth, literally boundless opportunity for search marketers. We did see a minor slowdown a little over a year ago, but that’s gone and we’re back in solid growth mode – and I just don’t see that ending.

5. What is your favorite website, apart from your own?

Well, in terms of time spent, Techmeme and United Airlines. I’ve got several dozen others I check weekly – and I admit I still like to get lost surfing via StumbleUpon from time to time.

6. Can “social marketing / media” and search survive apart from each other?

The lines are blurring. Search is becoming social, and social is becoming so big that it’s more and more difficult to navigate the social landscape without search (though a different species of search than Google). We’re also seeing new, hybrid forms emerge leveraging trust networks in a way similar to PageRank. There will always be a need for “pure” search (give me a fact, send me to a website, help me with research, etc), and some people probably will remain content interacting simply and directly with their friends and followers without searching. But we’ll also see both the technologies and the creative uses of them continue to evolve, merge, and inevitably lead to new things we can’t even imagine yet (did anyone reading this imagine Google when they were a child?).

7. What’s your search tip for the summer?

Don’t bring your laptop or mobile with you on holiday! 🙂

Written By
Bas van den Beld is an award winning Digital Marketing consultant, trainer and speaker. He is the founder of State of Digital and helps companies develop solid marketing strategies.
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