SEO RIP?

As mentioned in a previous post, I had a chance to hear the insightful and entertainingly profane Gary Vaynerchuk wax poetic on the open stage at the recent Internet Week confab here in NYC. @GaryVee said something that got me a thinking.

In essence, he proclaimed the death of search engine optimization (SEO) as a marketing discipline for driving business:

“…the days of gaming Google to garner one’s ranking in the search engine’s organic results are numbered. He said that he’ll be getting his restaurant recommendations, not from search, but from his ’17 most trusted friends’ in his social channels.”

Consider this:

  • Facebook has more than 400 million active users; 50% of its active users log on to Facebook in any given day; An average user has 130 friends.
  • Twitter has close to 106 million, with 300,000 new users signing up every day, and 180M unique visitors every month.
  • Foursquare had almost 1.6 million users and is growing fast.

With these numbers and the inherent trust users assign to the recommendations of their expanding circle of “friends” residing in these and other social channels, what will become of an entire industry of SEO specialists fixated on Google’s always-changing algorithm?

Fortuitously, I had a chance to share Gary Vee’s vision of a world less reliant on Google search for trusted recs with the one person who most assuredly would have an opinion.

Here is an audio clip (RT 7:36) of my exchange with the prolific Jeff Jarvis, associate professor at CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism, author of What Would Google Do?, co-host of This Week in Google, and BuzzMachine blogger who singlehandedly forced a massive cultural shift at Dell after his series of Dell Hell rants.

So, is the SEO industry and the gaming of Google by marketers on the outs? Jarvis concludes with this:

“Look at companies like Demand Media. They are producing millions of pieces of content that are designed for exploiting SEO and Google. Google is looking for more signals of originality and quality according to Matt Cutts…The more that Google gets better signals and better stuff, the better the search results are for each of us. So the fact that SEO starts to die I think is a very good sign for Google, the opposite of what Gary says. I rarely disagree with Gary and I shop at his store…great wine and a great guy, but I think he’s wrong about this one.”

With that said, my pal Lee Odden, one of the best SEO pros in the business, remains bullish about the prospects for his chosen discipline. Here’s his post on the subject. And here’s an excerpt from his comment below:

“While the 400 million+ FB users, 100 million+ Tweeple and over 1 1/2 million Foursquare users is impressive, consider this: Google web sites handle over 88 BILLION queries per month.

With all the content being created, crawled and indexed from web sites, social channels and various media, does anyone really think the usefulness of sorting through all that content could be accomplished through recommendations alone? That’s a sound bite, not wisdom.”

13 Comments

  1. ReputationManagementConsultants.com
    November 15, 2010

    I still believe that SEO will be able to adapt to changes with search no matter what it is.

  2. Dianne
    August 25, 2010

    I just want to relate this post on what is happening in small companies here in Orange County. Three thumbs up for search engine optimization! Orange County online businesses always depend on its power. It is always the best as a starting step to hire a SEO team to at least focus on their virtual advertising. In additional, you can have them focusing for contents and helpful words inside your site, or hiring a good writer will do. I always believe in its capability to help starting businesses here in Orange County. SEO is a good and giveaway tool for us, for small-time players like us – and I have proofs to brag about it.

    Just to add, I really like the way you put words in this post! Thanks!.

  3. Edefiner Technology - Web Design Company
    August 21, 2010

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Jeffrey
    August 16, 2010

    I agree that social networking sites play a huge role in online marketing trend nowadays. Web developers must see to it that the websites they’re developing are designed in accordance to the optimization rules, thus being relevant to the search engines, and attracting more visitors. As Mary mentioned, search engine optimization does not happen overnight.

    There are two things that should be taken into consideration in web design, before websites are launched. The usability and exposure of websites are linked with good site architecture and intelligent web application architecture, as done by the web developer. Being constantly updated with the latest trend of search engine optimization is surely a plus.

  5. Mary
    July 29, 2010

    Search Engine Optimization is not something that happens overnight. Googlebot is always indexing web pages and while Google has much computer power behind their technology, the rate of internet growth is simply too vast for even the largest super computers.
    SEO

  6. Aidan
    June 25, 2010

    Good SEO Surrey takes time, which is why a number of website ideas tend to lose faith and move over to other practices to get the quick fix results – like paid advertising. Think about getting your keywords in the content, adding frequent updates and have a good amount of high quality inbound links from relevant websites.

  7. Lalitha
    June 23, 2010

    just linked this article on my facebook account. it’s a very interesting article for all.
    seo expert

  8. Alex
    June 19, 2010

    I agree with Lee. Good SEO is not about gaming the system. It’s just Optimization, with search engines and visitors in mind.

  9. Peter Himler
    June 17, 2010

    Michael, Lee and Susan -

    You all make excellent points. I too am not so sure that social nets will trump search as a means to surface relevant information. I like Susan’s characterization of static versus real-time, but Lee also make a valid point on the disparity in # of users in the leading social nets versus the number of search queries on Google (Is this apples to apples?)

    Net net: the two will co-exist, IMHO, for the foreseeable future. And, friends’ recommendations will be better for sourcing certain info, while Google (Bing and Yahoo!) other info.

    Thanks for weighing in.

    Peter

  10. Susan S.
    June 17, 2010

    I see it a little differently. Google represents static search. Good for searching information that isn’t changing much. Or can stand the test of time. But Twitter and FB gives use real-time information on relevant topics +opinion + moderation by reliable sources. Our chosen sources in fact not just who happens to be on the nightly news broadcast.

    These two things have to work together. SEO won’t die but I agree with Lee Odden. Twiter and other social networks will filter out the poor quality sites optimizing on SEO.Although I fear the introduction of advertisements might bring spam, we still have our real life friends shielding us from bad content.

    What we use for search will depend on what information we are looking for.

  11. SEOP
    June 16, 2010

    I agree that social media is playing a big role in today’s online marketing trend. But I don’t see this killing search engines and SEO.

  12. Lee Odden
    June 16, 2010

    Hey Peter, I appreciate you reach out on this, even though I did give it a double yawn :)

    Recommendations for wine and restaurants may certainly be best handled through social connections.

    While the 400 million+ FB users, 100 million+ Tweeple and over 1 1/2 million Foursquare users is impressive, consider this: Google web sites handle over 88 BILLION queries per month.

    With all the content being created, crawled and indexed from web sites, social channels and various media, does anyone really think the usefulness of sorting through all that content could be accomplished through recommendations alone? That’s a sound bite, not wisdom.

    Will consumers and companies be able to shed their reliance on search to single out useful resources (many of which may very well be social) to help solve their problem or meet their need?

    As long as there is content to be searched, there will be an opportunity to optimize that content for better marketing performance.

    The only thing about SEO that’s dying is the crappy, loophole exploiting, manipulative and risky SEO in force by made for adsense sites, automated content sites and the like.

    SEO is a partner to search engines because search engines will never be perfect. Great SEO is invisible. Great SEO improves user experience. Great SEO helps search engines do their job even better.

  13. Michael Draznin
    June 16, 2010

    Great post Peter. Thoughtful and thought-provoking. It will be interesting to see how this evolves and within what timeframe. Best, Michael