SEO is Dead – Long live SEO

It’s interesting what the words SEO is dead can do. Such a simple statement causes armies to rise up on both sides ready to do verbal battle on their blogs and forums. But is SEO really dead? A simple search for this phrase turns up close to 8 million results. I think that alone answers the question.

While I can’t agree more with VP of Business Development for Lijit Networks and CEO and Co-Founder for Graphic.ly Micah Baldwin’s statement that SEO is something that needs to be done in-house as a shared responsibility, not outsourced to the consultants who sell snake oil promises of top three rankings in Google; practicality tells me that optimization is not something that can be ignored. Especially in today’s online landscape.

8 Million Results

Eight million results returned for the phrase “SEO is dead” shows us that the web is over-saturated at this point. Your site may have the most well-written content, a great collection of images, and plenty of useful links but if you are ranking anywhere below the top ten, there’s a good chance that nobody is going to ever see it.

In order to get our content in front of our targeted audience, something has to be done to give it the page ranking it deserves. For a while, tricking the search engines through black hat techniques was the way many SEO experts were able to accomplish this. Of course, once the engineers who build the search engines started to look into ways to prevent these tactics, “traditional” SEO started losing ground to more honest optimization techniques.

Social Media

Some in the camp that advocates SEO has been buried, point out that social media is one of the conspirators who dealt one of the deadly blows. Baldwin gives a great example of this in his blog, Learn to Duck by stating, “The content generated by users of social media began to rank highly in search engines, because it was RELEVANT. Because it had VALUE. Because it was TIMELY. Because it was REAL.”

People want to hear what others have to say much more than they want to read a relevant keyword over and over again in the first 100 words. Add to the mix the fact that social media fuels the viral fire and you have a formula for success.

Technical SEO

A particular movement in SEO has been to drop the keyword stuffing and the irrelevant content and move towards Semantic HTML.  Semantic HTML moves the developer towards a set of standards in the design of the website to make it easier for spiders to crawl the site and find the relevant content. Adding alt tags to images, using proper tags and page structure, and getting rid of tables not only makes the site easier to crawl, but makes it helps the site comply with the W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative that works towards making websites accessible to the disabled.

Is that really SEO?

Listen to some of the big names in SEO and they will cringe at the thought that SEO is limited to tricks like keyword stuffing and meta tags. They may be 100 percent correct, but do a search for SEO techniques and see what you get in return. Out of the 17,500,000 sites, how many of them actually go through the true SEO techniques that the few true professionals advocate? Most of what you will get is a self-proclaimed “expert” selling his latest e-book that instructs you to write relevant content dense with keywords in the first paragraph.

So answer the question

So is SEO dead? Not hardly. If we apply Moore’s Law to the web, we can see that the number of sites has approximately doubled every two years from 23,148 in 1996 to over 162 million in 2008. With that much competition for the coveted top ten results, developers face a rough road when optimizing their sites.

SEO is evolving as it adapts to technologies like Wiki engines, blogs, Facebook, and Flash. At the same time, it is coming full-circle by getting back to the roots of what the web really is. By throwing away all of the methods used to trick the search engines and is focusing on providing useful, human-friendly content, true SEO will be alive and kicking for Web x.0.

About Jeff Orloff

Jeff Orloff is a freelance technology writer and consultant with Sequoia Media, Inc. (http://www.sequoiamediaservices.com). When he is not in front of a computer, he can be found coaching little league baseball.

You can find Jeff on Twitter: @jeorl.

9 Responses to SEO is Dead – Long live SEO

  1. A couple of clarifying points:

    1) I am the CEO and co-founder of Graphic.ly 🙂

    2) Its learn to duck (http://learntoduck.com)
    3) I wrote that post almost a year or so ago.

    Your analysis is awesome. My feeling is the same now as it was then, companies, in order to truly harness the power of the web for marketing, have to own their own futures. They must INTEGRATE SEO, not outsource it, regardless of size.

    Companies that excel at this understand that value. Companies that dont cease to exist.

    Pretty soon Social Media will be dead too. Right now its is drowning in a world of horrible experts and expectations and nobody has stepped up to help right the ship…

  2. "SEO is something that needs to be done in-house as a shared responsibility, not outsourced to the consultants who sell snake oil promises of top three rankings" -Micah Baldwin of Graphic.ly

    Outsourcing is okay as long as the client does their homework.Does the company have recent examples of success stories? Does the company stay up to date on new strategies? How many clients do they have?

    Also, if the company charges little, don't expect great results. SEO takes time and time costs money.

    We had a client who didn't like our pricing and went with someone cheaper. Later she claimed that SEO didn't work. When we talked to the guy (snake oil man) who did her SEO, we found he was using novice old tactics.

    SEO is not dead. It's just harder to weed through the nice people who aren't up to date.

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by djambazov, ReveNews and kelvin lee, Jeff. Jeff said: SEO is Dead-Long Live SEO http://bit.ly/5vobEL […]

  4. Hi Micah,

    CEO and Co-Founder is kind of like Chief Evangelist 🙂 Thanks for point out those corrections. Updated in the story.

    I agree with the same issues of noise in Search will become exponentially worse in Social Media. And it always amazes me despite the prevalence of tools how many companies don't even have a style manual when it comes to properly tagging their photos on Flickr or their videos on YouTube. Content that is lost in the noise does not foster engagement rather it becomes part of the chaff.

    I disagree that they have to rely on internal systems to do so, but considering my specialty that's no surprise. They should, however, insure that any specialist they work with puts systems in place that allows for internal retention of knowledge.

    Angel

  5. […] SEO is Dead – Long live SEO (revenews.com) […]

  6. hi, jeff. Its an really good & informative post on SEO. I agree with all your above points. But the real SEO Hosting sites aren't dead yet!

  7. senseo says:

    Increased competition on the web, demands the best way to optimize your website. Read on, to know more information about the same in this article….

  8. Randy says:

    Agree that SEO is not dead. Disagree with Mr. Baldwin’s statement that it needs to be done in-house. Outsourcing to the right company with the latest skills, knowledge, and experience would be beneficial.

  9. Meratvforum says:

    SEO will die the same day that Search Engines die.

    Folks that claim SEO is dead or on it’s way out are misinterpreting the term SEO for the current strategies employed in SEO.

    We will always need to find ways to optimize our pages and our inbound links so that Google (& Yahoo & MSN) find us relevant enough to present to their searchers.

    A better way to state this is that SEO is changing and the techniques necessary to be “considered relevant” are changing and involving social media more and more. Google is looking to social media to help them identify relevance.