Searching Beyond the Paid

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Search Marketing Sweatshop, Indeed!

Great article by Gord Hotchkiss on MediaPost today. He's criticizing a Business Week article called "Life On The Web's Factory Floor," which likens search engine marketing to factory grunt work. Like most other SEMs, I'm outraged to see our profession reduced to this level of simplicity and banality. We're certainly not just typing keyword combinations and poring over data minutae all day long. Anyone who thinks that has a very narrow view of what SEM is.

That said, the article makes some admirable points. Companies that are digitizing print information, including Google Books, MenuPages, and ProQuest (where my aunt works, thank you very much) are performing a tedious, data-intensive job - but a job that, in the digital age we're in, is a necessary one. People expect to find online content for books and magazines, restaurant menus, and newspaper articles. Heck, I depended on Google to find the original Business Week article online so I could read it for myself! Without someone digitizing this stuff, we wouldn't have it at our fingertips, and we certainly wouldn't be blogging about it.

So, I guess you can say there are some aspects of SEM that really are somewhat akin to "factory work," but don't for a second assume that everyone who does SEM for a living is working on the "digital factory floor." Far from it. SEM can be challenging, exciting, fun, and lucrative if you know what you're doing.


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