Search Engine Optimization is finally a mainstream marketing vehicle.
In the early days of the SEO industry, the "experts" sounded disturbingly like those guys on infomercials for real estate investment with no money down. The sleaze factor of the early SEO industry (hard-sell, get-rich-quick) has had a long-term impact on the perception of SEO by mainstream marketers (and agencies) with major brands.
A press release from iProspect
today announced that they had just renewed two major brands, FordDirect and Sharp Electronics, for two years contracts. Since we wrote the Buyer's Guide to SEO Firms, I know that most SEO firms are still providing services on a month-to-month basis.
What a two-year contract tells me is that major brands are catching onto the idea that SEO is an infrastructure issue, like security, metrics, and hosting. While the industry still has a long way to go to reach respectability in the eyes of many (as long as Christine Hall keeps coming into my mailbox, true respectability will be elusive) clearly, two-year contracts say that SEO is a permanent part of the online marketing mix, and a permanent line in the marketing budget.