Can the SEO Industry See It’s Own Impending Demise?

In SEO, The Digital Marketing Blogby Kelvin3 Comments

A few weeks ago, before Steve Rubel and his ‘SEO is Dead’ post, I asked on Twitter ‘How Long Do You Think The SEO Industry Has Left?’

There were two types of replies, “it’s doomed it’ll only last a couple of months” or “as long as people search, there’ll be SEOs”
Dinosaur Walk

I think both are completely wrong.

I shan’t name names but it never ceases to amaze me that people are happy to say “all SEO’s are crooks and everyone will find out as soon as you read my blogpost about SEO”.

They’re mad, mostly web designers and jealous of the tremendous growth in the industry and can’t seem to face up to the fact that if they are their peers did their job properly, there would be much less demand for search marketing skills.

They keep harping on, while the best search marketing firms carry on working with forward thinking web development companies to deliver more zeros to their clients bottom lines.

But it wasn’t the answer of the kooks that surprised me, it was everyone else who thought there would never been an end to the demand for SEO.

Like a summer holiday that never quite ends.

I think in someways they’re actually more naive than my “seos= crooks” strawman.

The search marketing industry exists because there is a gap, a gap between what most websites deliver and what search engines want those websites to deliver. But will that gap always exist?

We all know there’s two sides to the SEO process, the onsite SEO and off site.

Off-site SEO is getting so clever and sophisticated in it’s approach I think in a few short years we’ll be hard pressed to spot the difference between the proposal put forward by a search, PR, Advertising or Marketing Agency.

I think that’s generally a good change, at the moment these different disciplines have different goals, but you don’t need to be Mystic Meg to appreciate that they’re moving nearer every day. This might not spell the end for link building as an art and craft but it might be a death knell for the name.

Onsite is a little more complicated, but there are are plugins for most major CMSs which handle the issues that used to dominate search marketers time just a few short years ago, but there will still be a need for a someone who understands what search engines like and don’t like but they might not be as busy as they used to be.

Keyword appreciation when designing, writing and deciding the architecture of a site will continue to be a valued skill; but it’s optimistic of SEO firms to assume that they ‘own’ the right to this type work. It’s just this type of assumption of entitlement that we as an industry have been able to undermine that’s helped us grow.

I want to finish up by saying I don’t think that SEO companies will suddenly cease to exist, the skills and talent working in search teams will always do well. And I think for a good few years search will carry on as normal, because as long as investing in search delivers ROI people will be happy to pay for it. What we need to concentrate on no matter what we call ourselves is providing great returns for clients, as long as happens there’ll never be a struggle to find clients.

But anyone working in a search industry must realise, in five years time, we’ll look back at 2010 and be amazed that we couldn’t see how something glaringly obvious with hindsight.

But then if we could all predict the future it’d be a very different world.

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  1. I don’t agree with your perspective, Kelvin. You seem to suggest that SEO will become wrapped up in other web disciplines and will no longer be a separate industry as such. I.e. web professionals will become generalists.

    I think the exact opposite is happening – professionals are becoming specialists.

    Each field of internet business, be it web design, development, PR, PPC, Conversion Optimisation, or SEO, is becoming more and more complex. As such it demands more and more from professionals active in their chosen field.

    I agree that SEO will become more a part of online business, offered as a package deal (a trend that is growing already). But it will require more specialised SEO professionals who do nothing but SEO. Just as proper Google Adwords management demands veteran PPC pros to do it properly.

    From an external point of view SEO will increasingly become part of the total online business mix. But behind the scenes it’ll become more specialised than ever.

  2. Author

    Actually Barry I think I probably have a similar view point to yourself. I think the specialisms will become so specific that they probably aren’t known as SEO any more. I think it’s the very general skills that will die out, you’ll have people specialising just in the keyword research stage or IA/UX/Onsite SEO for particular types of website etc.

    Like I say I think it’ll be an evolution rather than revolution, but I think we all need to be wise that what SEO is (and whether it’s called SEO), will change significantly in future

  3. Great points from you both! Thanks for the interesting comments on the post. Generally, I agree that it’ll really be an evolution. Whatever developments may happen but I think, SEO companies will not cease to exist for sure.

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