SEO is Alive
Over the years it has become a standard task as a professional working in search engine optimization to defend the discipline from those who claim in public or on “the series of tubes” (RIP Ted Stevens) that the service we provide is dead or irrelevant.
From what I can tell every time a new innovation in search is introduced individuals rise to proclaim SEO “dead” in order to stir up controversy and make a name for themselves or to be among the first to deliver “prophecy.” Compounding this issue is that these proclaimers typically have an inability or lack of interest in learning what SEO actually is.
Since the beginning of time people have searched for things. (insert story here about early man searching for sticks to rub together and start a fire.)
Nowadays people heavily rely on internet technology to search for what they are looking for and this is not expected to end anytime in the near or distant future.
Over the last 15 years web sites have emerged as leading platforms to deliver information. Search engines followed to give people a way of finding the most relevant websites and pages on the topic they were looking for. Social media then emerged as a way to search for trusted information within their networks and contacts. Location Based Services like Foursquare and Yelp have also started to help people to search and find.
The major search engines all have pay per click search advertising available on their properties that have been enormously profitable, but they also continue devote resources into their natural algorithmic search results as this continues to be a valuable and heavily utilized service by visitors. The last studies I’ve seen still show that 60-70% of all visitors click natural search results first over sponsored or paid listings.
The market leaders Google, Yahoo, and Bing will no doubt continue to more aggressively integrate paid advertising into their search results over the years, but there will remain a strong desire among users to also have access to organic search results where the sites listed haven’t directly paid for their placement. If the major search engines get too aggressive in its display of only paid advertising, this will open up an opportunity for a competitor to emerge who offers better “non-paid” search results.
SEO is not sorcery or a bunch of parlor tricks as many misinformed people think
At its essence SEO can be boiled down to these 4 ongoing activities
- Ensuring the delivery of content in a format that can be fully processed by technologies that provide information in response to search requests
- Identifying what people are searching for pertaining to an industry or niche and selecting the most valuable keyword segments
- The ongoing creation of targeted content focused on meeting the needs of what people are searching for
- The marketing and promotion of that targeted content through relevant external resources (Blogs, Forums, Websites, Social Media)
As long as people continue to use internet technology to search for information and natural search results exist where no payment is made to the technology provider, SEO will remain alive and relevant.
Will Google be all paid results in 10 years? Maybe.. But if so, will they still be the market leader in search?
Will SEO still be called SEO in 10 years? Maybe not, but regardless passionate professionals will remain to harness technology to help people find what they are looking for using methods fundamentally different from paid advertising.