Death of Search, Long Live Search

The growth of social media has Internet Marketers wondering if these new areas of interest mean the end of search as the heart of an Internet Marketing campaign.  I have always resented the tag SEO for my ideas on the Internet, because the concept of gaming the search engines has been dead for over 5 years now.  The growth of link based engines, starting with Google made gaming the engines less useful than a simple coherent strategy.  By building content with the user’s needs in mind, you were naturally doing SEO with good links, clear text, and simple content rich sites.

The emergence of social media as new avenues for traffic and links only add more aspects to your traffic strategies.  It is no longer “Google or Bust,” when you can generate traffic from Twitter or Facebook.

Good content, useful materials, clean HTML, and publishing your information into social media can all help you gain links to your website, or visitors that may leave comments and enhance your site.  Anyone on the Internet for more than 8 years remembers “surfing,” where you would click around from site to site exploring.  Pre dot-com, websites linked to each other, Google’s wars on spam may have discouraging linking for a number of years, but with the growth of social media, people are out exploring the Internet, and that helps publishers with good content find more traffic.

Virtual Worlds are Booming while out of Spotlight

When I was in Middle School, I learned the Scheme programming class as part of an experimental math program.  While most computer science students recall wrapping their mind around functional programming languages (most elite Universities offer some LISP derivative instruction, Scheme, Common Lisp, Haskel, etc.).  As someone who loved playing online, this knowledge base made learning MUSH programming for TinyMUSH derived systems great, creating objects with commands on them in the internal LISP dialect.

So when Second Life hit the scene, I took immediate interest.  Alas, my personal life didn’t leave much time for video game playing, and I never got involved in what turned into the most fascinating “old is new again” story, where what looks like early 1990s Virtual Worlds combined with 1980s online gaming via TinyMUSH has developed a small but dedicated following.

Who uses it, I have no idea, as all my gamer friends seemed to spend a few years on World of Warcraft (my wife can describe making me shower after playing Diablo 2 for 3 straight days, so I can appreciate the obsession with a new Blizzard game, even if I got bored after leveling by guy to 60 pre-expansion), and my technology friends were into other areas, and Second Life seemed just too low tech to be interesting.  The media, latching on to whatever seems unique, appeared to have taken a huge interest in a non-technology company… a category I put Twitter in a few months ago, other than an example as to how Ruby on Rails was NOT a solution for a scalable need.

Yet while the media attention has moved to Twitter, the Online Worlds are minting money.  The subscription model, plus online items that can establish value, other in game or out of game, has created its own economy.  Twitter has tremendous influence on the media, and the application has a huge following in metro areas (where people go out taking cabs or mass transit, and update from their phones) where the media is located, but seems to have a small number of users compared to other mediums.

The recession is forcing companies to focus on what works.  Twitter can help drive the press and bloggers, bloggers help move the press and search engines, and search engines and the media move traffic.  But if you are looking for cash, Twitter won’t generate it immediately, but if you can use it to manipulate the press and bloggers, two gateways of traffic and ability to influence search engines, you can market in the 21st century.

From a business point of view, the Virtual Worlds still mint money, the online purveyors of walled gardens of information like Facebook, and the mass disseminators of information like Twitter can’t make a dime.