A recent Forbes article detailed a comment made by Adam Torkildson, a top SEO consultant from Utah, back in March: namely that “Google is in the process of making the SEO industry obsolete; SEO will be dead in two years.” The article goes on to note that Torkildson was in many ways proven right by Google’s Penguin update, which changed the focus of rankings from backlinks to shares, likes, and comments…in other words, social media metrics.
In essence, according to the article’s author, Ken Krogue, “Google used to think if you linked to someone on the Internet they must have valuable content. Now, Google seems to believe that if you promote content with social media it is more indicative of relevant content and less likely to be faked.” Krogue explains how a big part of SEO strategy is the promotion of content through extensive linking and the building of credibility for a product or site by affiliating it with more popular, successful ones.
Moreover, because both Black and White Hat SEO are, in one way or another, centered around this basic strategy, Krogue and Torkildson agree that Google’s new direction—moving toward content vouched for by users rather than the providers—means that the focus for companies and site-owners needs to be on valuable content rather than merely on promotion. Simply linking your content often can be counterproductive, and success can only come from providing articles, videos, pictures, etc. that users want and enjoy.
But does that mean SEO is dead? I don’t think (and this is just my personal opinion) that it does. In my mind, all this means—if it’s completely valid to begin with—is that like the internet, like everything really, SEO will have to evolve. Cellphones have sure as hell changed in the past twenty years, even in the last five. Likewise, SEO is going to change, shifting to fit both linked-based optimization and social media sharing optimization. Frankly, there is no reason it can’t do both, and even if it warrants major alterations, calling SEO “dead” is most certainly an overstatement.
According to Grant Simmons, SEO and Social Product Director at The Search Agency, “SEO isn’t dead, it’s evolving. SEO is moving away from the definition of Search Engine Optimization to Search Everywhere Optimization,” and demands different talents, efforts and methodologies AS WELL AS traditional methods. As with “Old” SEO, content needs to be relevant, found and be indexable so search engines can index, categorize and serve against relevant queries. In addition, however, “New” SEO requires a site to earn a reputation for legitimacy and expertise.
“Social signals are good indicators of relevance, but I’d personally stay away from them replacing linking or the ‘defacto valuation of content,” says Simmons. “Social is one of many signals to help search engines (Google) rank one piece of content over another for a specific query.”
Bottom line: SEO is changing, and while strategies change with it, just remember that SEO is built upon multiple foundations, from news, video, and images to linking and social media. Don’t overlook the forest for the trees.