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Web optimization: The next new IT trend

By Sharon Aschaiek
Special to the Toronto Sun

Steven Goldhar can spot a trend from a mile away. When IT first began to change the way we work and live, Goldhar got in on the action as a desktop publisher. Fast forward 15 years later, and Goldhar is enjoying running his own company, Sundance Media, and leading the charge in the next new IT trend: web optimization. Below, he offers some brief insights on the marketing movement that is revolutionizing the Internet and creating a whole new field of employment.
Sundance Media

Q: In a nutshell, what is web optimization?

A: Web optimization and analytics comes into play when you want to find the right customers for the right vendors. It's no longer feasible for many companies to just put up a website and hope to attract customers. Part of it involves search engine optimization -- a series of techniques we perform that help companies increase their visibility on search engines.

There's also something called geotargeting, which allows us to measure the behaviours of (website) visitors, including whether they were directed to the site from a search engine, reference site, database and so on; the language they speak; the city and country they're from, and so on. Of course, it's all done in a legal and ethical manner.

That information is analyzed to help companies better understand their customers, and to offer them a better, more tailored experience.

For example, if a visitor has indicated in a survey on your site that they enjoy gambling in Las Vegas over a cruise or mountain biking, the next time they visit your site, a promotion for a book on winning at blackjack might show up.

It's sort of like getting the best damn junk mail you've ever received.

Q: How does one train to work in web optimization?

A: Right now there are courses through organizations like the Canadian Marketing Association that offer certificates in e-marketing, and include a segment on web analytics. More and more schools are introducing this component into their e-marketing courses. I am also exploring teaching it myself, if I get enough interest.

Q: Is this going to become a hotbed of job opportunities?

A: It's going to change the way we perceive and execute our marketing, and there will be huge demand. The people who will be successful are those who truly understand the nuances of how marketing works.

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