Video Deep Dive: Recent major changes in the search industry
Mike Blumenthal


Mike Blumenthal & Mary Bowling take a Deep Dive into recent major changes in the search industry.

This is our Deep Dive Into Local from July 24th, 2017. In our Deep Dive series, we take a closer look at one thing in local that caught our attention and deserves a longer discussion.

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Mike: Hi, welcome to our Deep Dive. Mary, I know that you’ve been struck by the recent major changes in the search industry with Danny Sullivan and Rand Fishkin from Moz both leaving the industry. Perhaps you could comment on that.

Mary: Yes, this…it seems like the wild west days of search really are over now that Danny Sullivan and Rand are stepping away from what they’ve been doing. Our partner…

Mike: And Matt McGee…

Mary: Yes, our partner at Local U, Matt McGee, is stepping away from Search Engine Land. David stepped away and…

Mike: David Mihm who sold Moz his Get Listed product.

Mary: Right, and that now he has another product called Tidings, which is email marketing for local businesses. So these personnel changes just kinda make me feel like maybe we’re at the end of an era where the pioneers, some of the first people that were in search are stepping away. And I know that you are now partners with GetFiveStars and devoting less time to local search. And I think that you mentioned to me that it was to keep things interesting.

Mike: Yes, because I think people move on for a number of reasons. Obviously, the industries have matured. Local has matured and SEO has matured a great deal. There are some large-scale players, technical stuff. The demands have gotten a lot more complicated for a single practitioner to be involved with it. I think also there’s economic pressures at Third Door Media, which is SMX, and I think at Moz as well. George is no longer there. Dudley is no longer there. So I think it’s a combination of people having done it for a long time and then, perhaps economic pressures, as well as other opportunities.

I know that David sold his company successfully to Moz, had a three-year sort of relationship after that and then pulled down to start a new company, which isn’t directly in search. And mine isn’t directly in search, either, although it’s a tangential area. Some of that has to do with, for me, personally, like you said, interest, right? After 4-5 years, I get bored of a topic. I’m still very interested in Google, so obviously I’ve continued to research and reporting in that area but…and I’m lucky enough to…and for GetFiveStars, to be working 75% time, so I have some time to do that. I think everybody else, it’s a little different. I think these changes occur periodically. I think it’s a maturation of our industry. I don’t know if it’s a good sign or a bad sign.

Mary: I agree. I think, the first wave of it was when Jill Whalen and Todd Malicoat said, “…things have changed greatly. We see the handwriting on the wall. We’re moving on.” And I think that’s probably where we are again. And I know that when we do the small business marketing Local Us — and we just did a couple in Texas last week, which is what reminded me of this — I’m always telling people these days that what we’re doing is marketing and the internet is just one of the tools we’re using to do it. And I think the people that were just totally enamored with only doing SEO or only doing internet marketing are the ones that are not being able to figure out where they fit in anymore.

Mike: And/or they may choose to…they may realize that they can’t scale what they’re doing enough.

Mary: Right.

Mike: The reality that I ran into is that I didn’t want to be a manager and an organizer of other people. And for me to scale what I was doing, I would have had or gotten good at outsourcing and training and organizing other people. And it’s like who wants to do that? Not me, right? I want to actually be engaged. Like at GetFiveStars, I’m engaged in product development — we’re developing a JavaScript version of our widget this week. Which means that our widget will be able to work on Wix and Weebly and Square and every place else. And we’ve just spent a week optimizing it for speed and it’s like, “Well, that’s engaging. That’s really cool. That’s fun. I get to test it every day and I get to see the code development. I get to interact with the program.”

It’s very engaging. It’s something I can do to help our business scale where I don’t have to scale myself. And that’s, I think, one of the issues. I looked at my local search business, first got into Local U because I thought it would scale and it has to some extent in the forum and other things. And then got into GetFiveStars which has scaled very well and has allowed me to do other things. So I think that, there’s pressures in the industry, there’s pressures within your own business, whenever that might be. In my case, it was like a real limit on how much I wanted to do the types of things I needed to do to have expanded it. And then I think that, there’s an interest, that I think people grow and change. And if they don’t, they might as well do this, right?

Mary: And I think with internet marketing, with search engine optimization in particular, the people that have been most successful with that are the ones that have embraced change, even sought out change, forced change. And that those people tend to get bored easily and…

Mike: And the successful ones have built really great agencies. Nifty or Dev Basu or Search Influence have built great agencies where they’re able to take their knowledge and integrate it into a larger process with more people and…but that wasn’t of interest to me, and I can’t imagine that to be of interest to David Mihm or Danny Sullivan…

Mary: Or me.

Mike: And I think Rand might have grown tired of it as well. It’s like, “How much of this…how much employee stuff can you deal with?”

Mary: Right.

Mike: So I don’t know. And times are changing, that’s for sure. It’ll be interesting to see where it goes in the next 10 years. The reality is I’ve been doing local, in one form or another, since 2006. This will be my 11th year. And we’ve both seen a lot of changes. So I think those will continue.

Mary: Right.

Mike: And with that, we’re going to say goodbye. Thank you for joining the Deep Dive with Mike Blumenthal and Mary Bowling. We’ll see you next week.

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