We attended Blog Indiana 2012 last week and came away with a new viewpoint on the SEO industry. The two day conference was packed with speakers on various topics, but somehow, SEO always popped into their presentations. The highlight, for me, was Doug Karr giving a presentation titled “SEO is Dead” (full slides at the link). Even with the linkbait-like title, I was immediately intrigued with the topic.
SEO, or the process of gaining higher rankings for search phrases, has been around for around for about 15 years. It has gone through hundreds of changes as search engines have come and gone, evolved, and gotten smarter. These changes always tweaked the algorithm in technical ways, but usually didn’t make drastic changes to the landscape of the web. Well, in 2011 and 2012, Google has thrown the industry for a loop. It has taken the complex math and statistics out of the equation and replaced it with something more transparent. Keyword density, linking structure, link profiles, sculpting PageRank, and other statistic & math heavy topics are being discredited or even penalized. Instead of focusing on what search engines want, these new changes seem to be moving search in a more traditional direction on the web. SEO seems to be taking on characteristics of traditional marketing tactics. Content creation, spreading the word socially, and converting visitors to customers are tactics of the new SEO.
Doug presented a lot of data around these changes and they all pointed in the same direction. “SEO is not a math problem anymore, it’s a human problem.”
What does this mean for you? Well, if you’re in charge of your SEO and you haven’t embraced the changes that were rolled out in the SPYW, Panda and Penguin changes, you’re already late to the party. If you’ve contracted with an SEO firm to gain rankings and they haven’t talked about a content strategy, it’s time to evaluate your partnership with them. It also means that if you’re a good marketer, but never really understood the link-building stuff, you’re in luck. Do what you do best – update your site, create content, and share it to your audience.
SEO isn’t dead, but it has definitely evolved once again. This time, it has changed into something that more people are probably familiar with…good old, traditional marketing.