Lee Odden

17 Ways to Stay Current with Search Marketing

stay current search-marketingOver the past few weeks TopRank has been conducting it’s own search of sorts, for a Senior Search Marketing Manager as well as a Search Marketing Strategist. One of the questions we ask is, “How do you stay current with tactics and strategies in the SEM space?”.  It’s a good question both for hiring agencies to ask as well as companies that are looking for SEM consultants.

Search is a changing marketplace. Whether it’s paying attention to the effect of Google infrastructure updates like Caffeine or industry aggregation like BingHoo, it’s important for companies that want to stay ahead of the competition and for SEM consultants to deliver first class services, to stay current. The question is, how to do that?  We offer 17 ways in our current Online Marketing Blog Reader Poll:

What are your top 3 methods of staying current in Search Marketing?

  • SEM Blogs (See the BIGLIST) (22%, 169 Votes)
  • Testing tactics on your own web sites (12%, 90 Votes)
  • Forums (WebmasterWorld, Search Engine Watch, High Rankings)) (8%, 58 Votes)
  • Observations & analysis of implemented SEM programs (8%, 57 Votes)
  • Community subscription (SEOmoz, SEOBook, etc) (7%, 53 Votes)
  • White papers, research, special reports (6%, 46 Votes)
  • Online groups (Facebook, LinkedIn) (6%, 45 Votes)
  • Webinars (6%, 44 Votes)
  • Email newsletter(s) (6%, 43 Votes)
  • The big conferences (6%, 43 Votes)
  • Personal network (5%, 41 Votes)
  • SEM Consultant/Agency Advice (3%, 20 Votes)
  • Books on SEM (2%, 12 Votes)
  • Print magazines (SES, Search Marketing Standard, Website Magazine, etc) (2%, 12 Votes)
  • Offline networking groups or meetups (1%, 11 Votes)
  • Industry specific (vertical) publications (1%, 7 Votes)
  • Niche or regional workshops (1%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 268

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Did we miss any primary methods of staying current with Search Marketing tactics and strategies? How do you use these methods to keep your SEM knowledge fresh?

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. How do you stay current with tactics and strategies in the SEM space? The answer is very simple. Try different services before you commit to anything. Different online businesses face different challenges, I always get angry when I hear someone who calls himself or herself an expert saying that company B should only go with one type of SEM strategy because that’s either the most used within their industry or because it is the one with the lowest initial cost. I recommend businesses owners to try out different strategies and approaches before they commit all their eggs to a single basket. In any case, it is always best to get more than one opinion before trying things out.

  2. Anselmo, I agree it’s important to test. The challenge with that is that it can take a lot of time and expertise before seeing the results of the test. My take is to test, but also look at outside expertise that is also testing – leverage agency resources (those that actually experiment) to speed up how long it takes to generates results.

    Definitely agree with you on the need to get more than one opinion.

  3. Avatar Chris Mortimer says

    The most important aspects I think are to have a few sites you can do test runs on, be obscenely focused on your analytics data, listen to what others think, be business-minded and patience.

    I also agree with Anselmo’s point on people clinging to “one way” of doing things. Different clients have different needs, and when driving traffic for them you need to look at all the options on the table to ensure you’re doing the best for them, not just choosing the tool you find most comfortable with. There’s a double danger here: if you do what you are only comfortable with then you will not develop as much and may get left behind. At the same time you don’t want to push the envelope too much and get into uncharted waters where you don’t know what you’re doing. That is what we use extra sites for, you need guinea pigs which you can conduct tests on.

  4. Hi Lee,

    A good list on the poll there. My top 3 are blogs, webinars and testing.

    You can do all the testing you want, but if you don’t have a sound grasp of what’s current it’s a waste of time to rely on testing.

    My top pick is keeping up with the SEM blogs.

    I am wondering what are your top 3 ways to stay on top of the changing landscape of SEO?

    In appreciation,
    Dali Burgado

  5. What about following knowlegable people on Twitter? This has become invaluable to me.

    • Great suggestion Tony. I think Twitter is as much a resource for SEO as other social networks as a conduit for personal and professional connections. Those relationships involve transfer of knowledge both formally and informally.

  6. If a line item for Twitter would have been on that list, I’d have checked it! 🙂 Twitter has become my SEM RSS.

  7. Great survey Lee! Fancy sharing your top 3?

    • Thanks Cher – I’d be happy to (didn’t want to bias the poll by putting them up above)

      1. Testing tactics on my own web sites
      2. Blogs
      3. Personal network

      Although, the reality is that I probably use a lot more than that on a very regular basis.

  8. I follow blogs and twitter. I also have a test blog I use for all of my experiments.

  9. People sometimes don’t realize just how much they can learn by simply reading various blog each day. The industry blogs are filled with valuable information that is actually used by many internet marketeers.

  10. That’s a heck of a survey, Lee. I’m surprised no one has done one like this before (or, if someone did do it, I missed it).

  11. Hi, Lee. Cool poll.

    I agree with the others. I have my twitter account open all day long to keep up with the latest articles and posts. Technically you could lump that in with blogs and such, but I think it deserves it’s own box

  12. Your brand should be something you rank well for organically, but there are some things to think about when you’re designing and optimizing your site for your brand. Traffic isn’t going to come from your brand right away, so make sure you’re using good keyword phrases and adding your brand at the end of that page title and in TEXT on the page.

  13. Avatar Jason Comely says

    I observe other search media campaigns and try to identify what I like or dislike about them. I also enjoy reading blog comments (not just the post) for alternative viewpoints and tactics.

  14. I do follow blogs and twitter to keep updated.

  15. Great list of choices. Well, for me the top 3 methods of staying current in Search Marketing are SEM Blogs (See the BIGLIST),Forums (WebmasterWorld, Search Engine Watch, High Rankings) and Webinars.

  16. reading blogs it is good, but i am always testing on my web sites, and it is working good for me

  17. From the point of view of an employee working in search mktg. company,
    the current practices followed to manage & optimize campaigns,

    the efforts taken the better the performance that include consulting colleagues, online search, read google adwords official blog are some of the ways to keep oneself updated about sem/ppc field.

  18. The tough part really was choosing just three, Lee. I see that we share 2 of our 3 in common. I guess I’m in good company. 🙂

  19. You give out some of the best information I have found! I will for sure come back for more from you! Keep up the great work and hanks for helping so many people!

  20. I think testing is SUPER important. Matt Cutts should be a choice 😉 But, that obviously falls under blogging…

  21. Lee, I think that a “self-assessment” should also be prioritized to create the best possible test result in the long run.

    When I say self-assessment, I mean evaluating yourself on how you adapt with the current trends in the SEM/SEO world.

    With that taken care of, you’ll not only know your strengths and weaknesses, but you will have an idea how to cope with the ever-changing world of search marketing.

  22. I also agreed with Rahul Sutar. To do effective search engine marketing we should keep ourselves updated by reading blogs and other related articles. That really helps us in evaluating our performances and it keeps us technically updated.

  23. Great article and some interesting responses.

    One of the comments captured my thoughts very well. I think the most important aspects are to test and really understand what your desired KPIs are. Set what you are testing and create defined check-ins along the way, you should evaluate performance and optimise as you progress.

    To do this analytics are crucial, invest in them and ensure you create outputs that are actionable.

    In terms of latest developments and trends, blogs and Twitter are great resources.

  24. While I know the search engine seminars and conferences are one of the best options for getting up close and personal with the industry bigwigs and even the search engine people maybe, those options are mostly available to those living in the States or such. For a global population Books and Blogs and sites like Seomoz and seobook etc are probably more reachable or affordable even.

  25. Thanks for the great survey. I find it useful to read blogs and follow people on Twitter for the latest information, as well as testing things out on my website.

  26. I think that reading decent SEM blogs and testing the theories on my own websites help keep me up to date.

  27. I like to get ides from blogs and newsletters, but then I try everything myself before I recommend them to anyone. Look at everything, but trust nothing.

  28. visit http://www.marketing26.blogspot.com/ for more detail

  29. Avatar Avelina Marshall says

    Respected admin,
    I want to contribute in your comments.