The Evolution of Search And The Demise of SEO
There is no question that search is evolving faster today than at anytime in the past seven years since Google rolled out it’s “Big Daddy” infrastructure update. With Panda, Penguin and most recently, the EMD (exact match domain) Update, the search landscape has changed dramatically in the last two years. As a result, those voices foretelling the death of SEO have gotten louder.
There is something funny about these predictions, though. They are not new.
As far back as the pre-Google days of 1997, Richard Hoy wrote, “I submit that search engines are dying. In fact, I would say they are dead already and just don’t know it yet – gone the way of the reciprocal link exchange and the “you have a cool page” award as an effective promotional tool. A victim of their own success. “
Twelve years later, Robert Scoble stated, “The writing is on the wall. Small business marketing is moving away from focusing on SEO. Why do I say that? Because, well, Google and Bing are changing the rules so often and are getting so good at figuring out the real businesses that deserve to be on pages.”
To which Danny Sullivan, who has been writing about search engines since 1995, wrote in his 2009 response to Scoble, “if SEO hasn’t died in the 12 years since it was first predicted, it isn’t going away any time soon.”
Danny, of course, was right. Yes, the rules are changing quickly, but that doesn’t make SEO obsolete, on life support, or dead.
A Definition Of Terms
Socrates said “the beginning of wisdom is a definition of terms”, so let’s look at some definitions from three different perspectives.
Popular with those who believe SEO is dead or dying is this definition put forth by Ken Krogue, who wrote in Forbes Magazine: “So by definition even the word Search Engine Optimization (SEO) means to “game” the Google search engines (and others) to get your valuable content ranked higher than it would be if left alone to the forces of the Web.”
Here is how three undisputed experts in the search world define SEO:
Danny Sullivan, SearchEngineLand.com: “SEO, for the record, is the activity of ensuring you are well listed in any search results that are offered to a user for free.”
Rand Fishkin, SEOMoz.com: “SEO is the combination of tactics and strategies, including, but not limited to, optimization of information architecture, usability, content focus, audience targeting, design, development, keyword research, keyword placement, link building, social media marketing and any other online or offline branding/marketing elements that support the goal of receiving more traffic from search engines”
Aaron Wall, SEOBook.com: “SEO is the art and science of publishing and marketing content in a way that brings significant profitable and targeted traffic to your website.”
Last, and maybe most importantly is how a search engine define SEO:
Matt Cutts, Google: “Essentially it just means trying to make sure your pages are well-represented within the search engines. And there’s plenty…an enormous amount of white-hat, great quality stuff you can do as a search engine optimizer.”
Matt went on to say, “But our goal is to make sure we return the best possible search results we can. And a very wonderful way that search engine optimizers can help is by cooperating and trying to help search engines find pages better. So SEO is not spam. SEO can be enormously useful.”
Here is the entire video where Matt answers the question, “Does Google consider SEO to be spam?“
Your Quotes Are Old. It’s All Social Now.
Social is a big part, no doubt. Bing is using Facebook data on the right side of their results and Google‘s personalized search is influenced by one’s various social connections with Google+. However, social is in its infancy as the search engines are still figuring out how best to use it. Here is video of Matt Cutts at SMX Advanced in Seattle discussing links vs social signals.?
As Matt says, links are not going away anytime soon, and as an agent or broker vying to get greater search engine exposure for your web site, that is significant. Over the next few weeks we will examine in greater detail how links are still a valuable commodity online and how they impact your real estate SERPS.
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Stay tuned for an upcoming post on the State of Real estate SERPs... Going to analyze whats going on in the real estate space and why :-)