Another question we received recently was:
"SEO as we know it will be dead within the next 2 years – true or false? With the wealth of info at their fingertips combined with localized, customized search to name but a few Google will no longer need to do what it does now to determine rankings?"
I'd say "false".
So long as search engines display a list of sites, for which payment is not required, SEO will exist.
How SEO is done will change. It has always changed. In the bad old days, SEO was all about getting listed in the Yahoo Directory. If you didn't, you were pretty much invisible. There was a time that listing with Looksmart got you decent rankings in MSN. These days, few of those new to SEO have even heard of Looksmart.
Google will certainly adapt and change, and use a variety of metrics in order to determine relevance. SEOs will adapt and change, trying to work out what these metrics are.
Recently, Eric Schmidt made the following comment:
The internet is fast becoming a "cesspool" where false information thrives, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said yesterday. Speaking with an audience of magazine executives visiting the Google campus here as part of their annual industry conference, he said their brands were increasingly important signals that content can be trusted"
So, having a brand might be a signal of quality, which may, in turn, lead to a higher rank. Or perhaps Schmidt was just playing to the audience of newspaper owners. Difficult to tell ;)
Google collects a wealth of usage data from toolbars, analytics, and their ad systems, so it is conceivable they might fold these metrics into their ranking systems. Marissa Mayer recently suggested that SearchWiki data might be used ranking calculations.
Will the bar get raised? Will SEO become more difficult? Of course. But a raised bar works two ways. If you can reach it, there's a new barrier between you and those who follow you. That gives you some level of defensibility.
So how do you do SEO going forward?
I've written a lot about the importance of holistic strategy. Your aim should be to sell something to people - be it an opinion, a product, a service. All your endeavors should support this goal, and most of the time, that means doing the basics well - make your site crawlable, well linked, and solve a genuine problem for people. If your SEO efforts are not resulting in an improvement in the bottom line , then there is little point doing SEO.
Bob Massa put it well:
"I believe anyone can be successful at online marketing or even traffic generation and search engine placement specifically, if they just stop looking for ways to trick machines and instead look for ways to connect with humans".
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