The other day I heard the comment, “SEO was last year’s news”, from a professional with respected credentials. Unfortunately, time and place were not on my side for engaging in a more detailed conversation about that statement. It’s not a new statement being made, but I wonder what the core position is for making the argument.
Consider three main reasons for making that statement:
1.) The traditional search result is a thing of the past.
Search Insider has an interesting post titled “The Last Days of SEO” which talks about a shift from the traditional 10 page search result to a more diverse search experience. The author talks about the concept of Digital Asset Optimization – making certain all of your digital assets (video, images etc) are optimized for all online channels, now and in the future.
In late 2007, Top Rank Blog also wrote a post on Digital Asset Optimization, which argues that it’s not that SEO will go away, but how we’ve been accustomed to optimizing content for search engines will change.
From the post:
As long as there are search engines, there will be some kind of optimization for improving search engine visibility.
We’ll still be optimizing for search (at least some of us), just not necessarily in the same manner we had before.
2.) There are more alternatives to search engine traffic than ever before.
A true statement, but no one would argue that obtaining search engine traffic is also valuable. According to the January 2008 ComScore numbers, over 6 billion US search queries were registered in Google (9% growth month-to-month) in comparison to 3.3 billion videos viewed on YouTube (10% growth from November 2007).
While this shows that alternative ways to find media content are growing in popularity, one can still argue that there is a stable market for acquiring traditional search engine traffic. More importantly, smart website marketers will be evaluating what percentage of each channel’s traffic actually converts for a company successfully visible in both marketplaces.
So it’s not to say that investing in other online channels is a bad idea, but understanding how to drive quality traffic from search engines can be just as important.
3.) There are more SEO resources online than ever before
Hundreds (thousands?) of SEO blogs, SEO related websites, forums and discussion boards, are available for interested parties to learn about best practices, guidelines and fundamentals. The development of easy-to-use tools, SEO analysis programs and search engines’ own features for evaluating search presence make it easier for marketers to comprehend what once seemed like a complex puzzle.
I would argue that the sheer volume of information – free and reasonably inexpensive – simply makes it more difficult to fully understand SEO. Knowing what a best practice is (or is said to be) is one thing; applying it to produce a positive result is another.
Also, most site owners don’t fully understand things like:
- Why internal cross-links are important and how to test and apply them.
- How to tell if an inbound link is effective for search engine rankings.
- How to tell when and what pages search engines crawled when they last visited.
- How video, blogs, and new ways to deliver/present information impact search results.
I don’t believe website owners will find the answers to these topics (and many others) for every situation. That means (to me) that there’s still a fair amount of information to be shared and discussed.
Those that know more want to know more
It was another respected professional who pointed out to me that the person who made the initial comment was the person who was most interested in discussing search engine optimization. And not from a standpoint of “why” but how SEO could be applied more effectively through example and walk-through.
The SEO community probably does itself a disservice by making things sound easier than they usually end up being. Statements like “Content is King” and “It’s All About Links” are much more digestible to the casual listener than actually trying to explain how content gets indexed in search, evaluating the importance of an inbound link or working on internal site architecture.
Website owners are bombarded with information from every angle. When there are only seconds to get someone’s attention, presentation and pointedness become equally important requirements for success of the actual topic being discussed. That’s why more complex conversations about SEO do not often happen in a mainstream environment.
But new developments in search, easily accessible technologies, and a more savvy business owner (looking to better apply SEO to their own website strategy) make me think that there still is a lot more SEO news to share. The real question is where are the interested parties going to go to find it.
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