2010: the year SEO isn't important anymore?

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. Search Half Moon Bay Sushi and you get real answers from sites that didn’t focus on SEO. Yeah, there are exceptions, but they are increasingly getting rare.

With other searches, like one for Tiger Woods, you’ll get a page filled with stuff that SEO just doesn’t affect much anymore. In the middle of that page is a real time box that brings items from Twitter and Google News. It no longer is good enough to be just an SEO expert to get items onto pages like these. You’ve gotta be great at creating content that gets Google’s algorithms to trust it enough to shove it onto these new hybrid pages.

But there’s something deeper going on. Google has built systems that aren’t Page Rank controlled anymore and are giving far better analytics to small businesses than they did a year ago. They know a LOT more about your behavior now other than you clicked on a link, even to the extent that they know whether you called that business or bought something and THAT is changing the skills SEO/SEM types need to have.

No longer is it about optimizing search engine results and the new breed is going beyond just search engines to provide holistic systems that find and track customers not only on search engines like Google and Bing, but on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

Yesterday I sat down with two of the guys behind a new company, coming in January, called “MyNextCustomer,” who already is working with about 50 small businesses and are getting much better results than more traditional “SEO/SEM only firms.”

Make no mistake, the two guys I sat down with, George Revutsky and Dustin Kittelson, who are co-founders of ROI.works, which is a search marketing firm, have been doing search engine and online marketing for a long time (since 1996 in George’s case) and they share their insights in this 30-minute conversations about what’s happening to small business online marketing.

I came away from this conversations thinking that SEO is getting dramatically less important and that SEM should be renamed to “OM” for “Online Marketing” since small businesses need to take a much more holistic approach to marketing than just worrying about search results.

Are you seeing the same trends in your business?

79 Replies to “2010: the year SEO isn't important anymore?”

  1. “No longer is it about optimizing search engine results and the new breed is going beyond just search engines to provide holistic systems that find and track customers not only on search engines like Google and Bing, but on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.” – About damn time. Being paid to be a human-thesaurus on a repetitive time-release is a sad way to make a living. SEO junkies should step their game up & become Social Media “Experts” anyway… Much more fun; and harder to track business results (for now, you grimy bastards)

  2. There's no question that the game is changing. The ability for people to rise quickly in rankings on Google and Bing by posting on social media sites and linking between social sites for relevance is only one way people are now gaming the system. SEO may not be dead but the rules for how you come up on the first page of a popular search engine are certainly moving in a new direction.

    posted by http://www.johngotts.com

  3. Optimize it for humans. Make it accessible, easy to find, and compelling, and don't forget to promote it (without spamming). The search engines, and traffic, will follow. Trying to optimize for a search engine is pointless, because the search engines aren't the ones looking for you. Anyway, they're trying to mimic human behavior in terms of understanding what's important. If it's not compelling or relevant, it will never gain traction, with search engines or people, no matter how “optimized” it is.

    1. You’ve taken an artificially narrow view of SEO, IMO. Good SEO isn’t just mechanically tweaking keyword placement and density and submitting to directories. A good SEO recognizes that it’s valuable content that wins the day. Old fashioned keyword-stuffed pages never converted anyway. You need to provide solid information of value to your customers as part of any SEO campaign. The search engines will recognize that, and so will visitors to your site.

  4. Absolutely. My question would be how quickly this filters through to the like of a potential client I met today, an industrial soda blaster. Technologically laggard industries may not be tweeting any time soon… as much as it would make my job easier. SEO has always felt 'dirty' -> it is not building anything or achieving anything useful, beyond the core task of 'building a good web site' [see http://powazek.com/posts/2090%5D

  5. With a shift such as this you also wonder what this does to the method and form of website development and content creation itself. Obviously they’re related, but with a lot of SEO activity targeted to sites that might once have been known as ‘brochureware’ sites, then if ‘real-time’ or near-time beats static in relevance that also moves the tools required to create, track and update etc. As you allude to – this is a potential opportunity for new ways to consult on and quantify (aka ‘score’) sites beyond page rank or similar measures. Call it SEO or RTSEO or whatever you like, but it’s an interesting shift..

  6. Yep, I’ve been saying this for ages. We all know that Google often fails to give us good results, throwing up tired and gamed affiliate sites (some made by me!) which don’t really meet the user’s search requirements. Of course Google were going to improve on this!

    I look forward to the day when Google also stops weighting sites based on a good keyword domain match. There are some awful/empty sites that rank highly on this basis alone. I know it won’t last for much longer!

  7. Nice one Robert. I've been praying that to my friends for years, especially those friends who were mentioning SEO/SEM in the very first meeting.. In my experience it's exactly like Alec says above: “Optimize it for humans. Make it accessible, easy to find, and compelling, …. The search engines, and traffic, will follow.”
    Personally, I'm going a little further and also try to optimize sites for screenreaders a little bit more, to ensure a good structure..

  8. y I have heard about this that goggle is also going to release new search engine on which all stretigies will change.

  9. Some really good points here. But I’m not sure SEO won’t be important anymore, maybe it’s just that the traditional definition of SEO is changing. Many of the fundamental principles of SEO are still solid and still applicable. But SEO itself is becoming more one aspect of online marketing and not a stand alone practice of manipulating algorithmic loopholes.

  10. I dont totally agree with the title “SEO isn’t important anymore' .

    Though I agree with the author on most of things he says, I think the emergence of 'Social Media' has just changed the way SEO is done. SEO has always been an evolving 'science', if I may call it a science at all, and it will continue to evolve and include other aspects of marketing.

    In our own experiences with online stores I own, even today google is still the larget factor sending in the punters onto the site. All SEM and no SEO is surely a disastrous strategy.

  11. This seems to be one of those cases where someone picks out one part of SEO and assumes all SEO consultants do things that way. I work for an SEO company, yes our focus has been around building traffic from search engine's but this doesn't mean we're just building random links for PageRank increases like it's 2001… we have evolved just like any other good SEO company.

    SEO it's no longer about optimizing just for Google it's about optimizing for all types of search including; local, social media, video, etc.

    It's not that SEO isn't important any more… it's; Good SEO is More Important Than Ever!

  12. It depends on what you mean by “SEO.” For years the best SEO companies have been focusing on social media, viral campaigns, link baiting, etc.. I've been waiting for the industry to hit the tipping point where companies using old school SEO techniques begin seeing serious hits to their rankings. Yes, it seems that point is imminent…

  13. It's definitely not going to be possible to be successful based on SEO alone. Content curation, user experience, creating semantic standards compliant code, being sociable as a brand and being usable (both as a web entity and a brand) are going to be key next year.

    However, the one thing I would predict that gets a lot more focus next year is going to be conversion. I'm seeing many companies looking for people to head up 'conversion', to do that well you need to understand tech, grok marketing, understand sociability and know experience like a designer. 2010 will be a great year for those with a good range of skills in web disciplines as brands realise they need people with a holistic view to focus across disciplines to raise conversion (be that sales, contacts, views, whatever).

  14. “But there’s something deeper going on. Google has built systems that aren’t Page Rank controlled anymore and are giving far better analytics to small businesses than they did a year ago.” What systems, what are the IR patents talking about them, what scientific journals , what tests have you carried out to reach that conclusion?

    Boring repetitive stuff. Search for caffeine in Google, third result was google’s own caffeine update, with not a single line of content in it, only because of anchor text of inbound links.

    I could give hundreds of examples like this where Page Rank algorithm is just essential for rankings. The SEO is dead mantra starts to be boring.

  15. I am agree with StereoMob. even also not believe seo is good or bad. its all about you. see if search engines are not exist then how we promote our new site and how we can get potential traffics. in that way we have to use only for SMM. I am not telling that SEO will be totally down but it will be very hard effect on those who are alwys used same technique that used before two years.

  16. I am totally agree with StereoMob. sitll i am not understand why people dont think that if search engines are does not exist then how people promoting their new sites? and how can get potential traffic without search engines? it is the only way to get SMM. And see we have must only concern about our ROI either our site is come on the top of the search enigines or not. its does not make any differnence .
    and Now That is the dam sure that google in processing to change the seo policy. and we dont used the same stuff that used before 2 years.

  17. That's exactly Robert's point, I think. He's saying that SEO as a term is dead, because it has evolved to the “holistic approach” that includes a proper understanding of the Web, in terms of architecture, bot behavior, and most importantly user behavior. The SE of SEO and SEM ignores all the other ways people find and share content, even though SEO companies may in fact cover those ways Everything you're describing is Online Marketing, which includes search engines.

  18. Robert, sadly, I don't even feel like you know what the current state of SEO is. When you write on this topic, you sound like someone who thinks the world is in 2001, where it's all on-the-page optimization. And you talk about PageRank like it's the only factor Google uses. Aside from being contradictory, it's also not the case and hasn't been for some time.

    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. So small businesses don't need to worry about SEO? Hey, the top box on Google is often taken up by a map with a “4 pack” or “10 pack” of listings.

    Those listings are something that small businesses can claim. And if you claim them, adjusting things like your address (if not correct) or your business title (such as ensuring you are descriptive for important terms) can have dramatic effect on whether you get listed. And that, my friend, is also SEO.

    Maybe later I can spend the 30 minutes to watch the interview. But when you write that these two guys are from former search marketing firms, I pretty much already suspect that whatever they do has an SEO component.

    As for renaming search marketing to online marketing. What on earth are you talking about? I mean seriously, where have you been since the internet broke out?

    There's always been online marketing, which is the umbrella term of marketing — well — online. It includes thing like social media marketing, link building, email marketing, virtual worlds marketing and yes, search marketing. Some online marketers can do all these thing. Many specialize, just as in the real world, someone might do outdoors advertising versus television ads.

    The biggest issue for small businesses is one that we probably both agree on — that online can simply be overwhelming for them.

  19. It is true that they do have an SEO component. It's just that that component is getting smaller and smaller over time — dramatically so in what I'm seeing. I never said to not do SEO, by the way. Some people seem to be reading that into what I wrote. But, yes, if you watch the video you'll get a much more nuanced view of the world than you might take away if you just read my headline.

    And, looking at the responses above, I'm not the only one that still thinks SEO is just page optimization. I'm sure many small businesses haven't paid attention to the changes you've noticed and outline in your comment either (although I have, part of the point of my post and this video is that the world of search has dramatically changed over the past year and you've gotta reevaluate your businesses' approach to online marketing.)

    By the way, the headline is a question. Thanks for answering! (Anyone here who isn't familiar with Danny Sullivan should google who he is and what he's done for the search industry).

  20. Good for you Scoble. I will challenge any SEO on stage anytime and call them on their crap. And if they want to go technical…BRING it on. I have been in the SEO industry for almost 10 years and most of these people are either adapting and modifying their strategy to go the way of 'word of mouth' marketing or their just abusing companies with overpriced snake oil scams. One thing I know for certain is that SEO is a blanket term that is completely abused. SEO to me is a standard list of items that every website should address…lets call them best practices or requirements. Actually!!! Let's start a website called SEO best practices and move on. I really enjoy what Danny and others do at Search Engine Land, but seriously SEO is no longer about optimization of websites, but rather about people.

    Want proof? I just tweeted this today:


    “@runlevelmedia SEO to me is dead. SEO did not bring 200k visitors in less than a week to my site. People did. http://tweetphoto.com/6541380

    To me SEO is a checklist of items that I approach before, during and after any product launch or client engagement. Nothing more. Nothing less. Just 1 of many tactics in my war book.

  21. You say – “It no longer is good enough to be just an SEO expert to get items onto pages like these. You’ve gotta be great at creating content that gets Google’s algorithms to trust it enough to shove it onto these new hybrid pages.”

    Ahm, hi, that's what SEOs do. At least the one's who know what they are doing. Your article should have been titled “2010: The Year That SEO Techniques That I Heard About in 2003 Will Be Less Important!!11!!1”


    “Today's Linkbait Article”

  22. WOW. Had no idea our interview would get this much response.

    Here's the net-net: http://www.MyNextCustomer.com is going to be launching publicly soon.

    A lot of what motivated us to create the product (we are currently an SEM/SEO/Online Marketing company ourselves) was the lack of quality marketing solutions for local businesses, the difficulty those businesses have in measuring their marketing results, and the lack of transparency some high-volume providers of ppc services currently have.

    For example:

    1) If you're a customer of one of the PPC-service-providers, how much does the engine get vs. how much is kept by the search provider as commission/service fee? They don't tell you. “Pay us 3K/mo and we'll get you leads.”

    2) Some of these mass-service providers are downright deceptive in how they implement their offerings. For example, some have had a practice of proxying an SMB's site to send PPC traffic to. Then, instead of no-following the site, they actually work to get the proxied site ranking high in the SERPS. Then claiming credit for the ORGANIC leads the proxied site gets. Then keeping most of the monthly media money for themselves. (Why spend it on Adwords, when you can steal the traffic from your client AND get them to pay you for it).

    Notice how NEITHER of these criticisms is a criticism of SEO, or SEO practitioners. Its actually a criticism of some venture funded providers of PPC services.

    FYI, if you're a PPC provider, there is nothing wrong with using a proxied site to send paid search traffic to, if you NO-FOLLOW it, so you don't create duplicate content issues and cannibalize organic traffic.

    Our offering is useful for both SMBs and local search consultants to track and manage marketing efforts. SEOs would find it useful. In-house webmasters would too.

    In no way shape or form does our criticism of cookie-cutter PPC services apply to legitimate SEO practitioners.

    Re: The relative importance of SEO
    Let's not rehash the SEO is good vs. SEO is bad debate here. Everyone on here is way too intelligent – just in too much of a rush.

    We do believe SEO has as big a role to play in a local business's marketing as before. I just think its a mattter of semantics.

    Robert is saying SEO is not as important now, since content creation, social media marketing, etc. are within many SMB's reach. Lisa and Danny are saying “I define SEO more broadly to encompass these things – local listings, content creation and distribution via social channels, etc.”

    As long as SMBs are being told that they need fresh content, accurate local listings, clean code, fast loading sites, and are encouraged to take advantage of social media, I personally don't care if you call that SEO consulting, Online Marketing Consulting, or Internet Marketing Consulting.

    I just care that we are up front with them. And I think everyone on this blog wants that.

    Please feel free to email me or get in touch via twitter with any feedback. You can find my email on my twitter profile: twitter.com/george_revutsky

  23. Hi Danny – we take no responsibility for that headline. I think Robert is (successfully) practicing linkbait here.

    I want to be clear that in no part of this interview did we say that SEO is not going to be important, or is any less important than before. I've been a student of SEO for a long time, and continue to believe SEO is a very important aspect of any business's marketing toolkit.

    The interview was a preliminary conversation about local search and social marketing in preparation for launching MyNextCustomer. I think it kind of got roped into a different discussion on here somehow…

    Its too long because I've had no media training, talk too much, the camera kept rolling, and Robert was generous with his time.

    Thank you (as always) for speaking up for the industry. Most of us would not be here without you.


  24. I've got the impression that showing social site's updates on a real-time basis at Google and other search engines show how important “search” is. So, search engine optimization is not going to die out! It's evolving into a new stage where you learn how to attract more visitors to your site through various on-page and off-page factors.

  25. SEO is just a buzzword everyone uses, and what's funny is that the small business community is just now catching on to what it is and what it does. A good SEO is not there to “game” the system, but rather to educate their clients on how the vast intricacies of the Internet and search engines work and teach them how to create good content that people actually want to read and link to.

    I also liked what Jonathan Nelson was saying too. I think there is an opportunity to “commoditize” several facets of the SEO process, and so for the majority of small businesses, there is no need to spend thousands of dollars a month on consulting – let our application software do the hard work for you.

  26. The SEO isn't important anymore? I don't want to be rude, but on the YouTube video you posted it says:

    “These guys are starting a new SEO and small business marketing company that will be revealed next month”

    Should I countinue?

  27. Of course it is very interesting to see how search is evolving. However i think the idea that SEO is no longer important is a bit over the top. It is still the foundation of search and without it you won't go far in the way of achieving ogranic qualified traffic. There are simply more factors that will be taken into account when it comes to SERPs going forward, as search continues to evolve. This will keeps thing fresh, new and exciting. I personally as an SEO, welcome these changes with open arms.

  28. Umm, I would love to disect the way Google Webmaster Guidelines have been modified.

    “Your site's ranking in Google search results is partly based on analysis of those sites that link to you. The quantity, quality, and relevance of links count towards your rating. The sites that link to you can provide context about the subject matter of your site, and can indicate its quality and popularity.”

    Picking it up right from here: http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/an

    When they say *partly*, it deciphers out to be stating that there are other numerous factors that come into play. Well, that's no new invention, Google has more than 200 other factors with page load speed, the new baby in the making.

    Deducing things from what it appears to be from my side of the window, I for one, think that things have evolved quite a bit. It's no more about just the Links Building, Page Rank.
    Though they are not dead, and work upto certain extent, but does not guarantee a top listing in the SERPS. (Earlier they did)
    And since, earlier they did work, does'nt mean SEO is dead or is going to be dead any soon! It's just evolving for good, and for the visitors who are looking out for something.

    Its not just the links that determine popularity of a website(unlike the medieval times, pun intended)
    It's the brand mentions across the web that seem to work as of now. And Platforms like Facebook, Blogs/Forums, twitter(still some juice left before it attains a saturation level) are just right.

    It's about generating the buzz, ain't it? Earlier(2003-2006), if a site was 1 for a fairly comp. KW, it would get the buzz set up right. Now, the more the buzz about the brand, the more closer it gets to the #1 in SERPS.

    Call SEO tasks a Checklist, but without those, everything would be just so temporary for obvious reasons. For a strong house, a Strong base is essential!

    IMHO, anything you do to optimize your website's SE positioning has to fall under the SEO umbrella. SEO will always be important, but will evolve for good!

  29. Thanks for nice reading! SEO will stay alive as long as search machines work. Then, SEM or general marketing IS the base of SEO. If we talk of small business marketing, there are some areas of business which can and some are can't functioning without internet. But any site always is better with SEO, then without one ))

  30. Totally agree, it's not just SEO but also PR and Reputation Management, no longer is it a clear distinction between who does what and where. We have to become online marketers and learn about all channels an opportunities. Good to see other seeing the bigger picture.

  31. Hmmm…well…I'd argue (again) that it's mostly a question of semantics, unless Robert is suggesting that the the web is changing so drastically that traffic from search engines will soon be unimportant (and that's not what I take him to mean).
    The use of search engines continues to increase each year, and as long as that trend continues, SEO in its latest iteration (ie, wholistic, focused more on off-site than on on-site optimization) will continue to be relevant.

  32. It's not that SEO is no longer important. SEO strategies of the past (link exchanges, for example) are not going to have the same weight as they used to. Instead, SEO companies are going to have to utilize new strategies to get their customers in the top of results, like getting them more involved with social media so their name is mentioned often in the real-time Twitter searches that will be higher in the SERPs.

    Traditional SEO strategies are not going to be important in 2010. New and improved SEO strategies will be!

  33. I'm tempted to think this is linkbait, but I'll bite 🙂

    SEO is a foundation for accessibility and organic traffic. There's no way you can have a site called http://www.9380123.com and have all your text stored in images and then compete with another site called http://www.descriptivename.com which has properly structured/semantic coding *and* then expect both to rank the same (given all external factors remain the same). I'll however agree that OM & SEM is becoming more important as SEO is becoming more widespread & standardized (i.e. CMS packages automatically having “decent” SEO features, etc.).

    2010 will be not be the year SEO becomes unimportant, neither will 2011 or 2012.

  34. Different, but not less important.

    Obviously, some of the premises in the post about SEO are “off” and are marketingspeak presented by the guys in the video to distinguish their new project.

    However, I don't see anything wrong with, “small businesses need to take a much more holistic approach to marketing than just worrying about search results”.

    Our small business clients get far more buying visitors from social and link channels than they did a year or two ago. Search is still the majority of referred traffic, but it's not the only one by far.

    The bottom line is of course, to connect customers/buyers with small businesses and their solutions. Fish where the fish are. If that means search, great. If that means social, great. If that means, email, PR, advertising, etc. great!

    It really comes down to understanding where/how customers connect with small businesses or businesses of any kind. How anyone could go wrong with a holistic approach is beyond me. Single channel SEO tactics are as limited as relying solely on any single marketing channel.

    Good SEO's don't rely just on standard Google.com for their marketing anyway. If something can be searched on, it can be optimized for better performance in search. That means on Google.com as well as the search functions within social networks, media specific sites, mobile, local, and so on.

    I think the statement to make is that good SEO has evolved (compared to SEO hacks making crazy promises) as a holistic discipline touching many marketing and communication channels.

    Competent SEO is, by it's nature, already “online marketing” because it can positively affect any kind of content that gets crawled, indexed and included in search results.

    No matter what people like Lisa, Danny, Robert or whoever, defensively say, best practices for small business marketing comes down to strategies that best serve the objectives of the business and not promoting a single tactic just because that's what someone knows best.

  35. The problem that I am seeing with a lot of comments is that SEO and SEM, although semantically different, are pretty much the same. What I mean by that is, if search engines begin to use social media to help with ranking, wouldn't using social media help “optimize” where a company shows up in that search?

    And as for comments such as Blogercise's, “Yep, I've been saying this for ages. We all know that Google often fails to give us good results, throwing up tired and gamed affiliate sites (some made by me!) which don't really meet the user's search requirements. Of course Google were going to improve on this! ”
    If you weren't optimizing to meet the needs of your client's customers and were just optimizing to get the website up for as many keywords as possible, then you were doing a disservice to your clients and wasting their money. It has never been about the best way to reach the most people, it is about the best way to reach the right people, the highest conversion rate and the lowest bounce rate.

  36. Robert, have you considered going into consulting and telling bloggers how to write on topics they don't have any knowledge of and with little or no citations and still get loyal readers? Seriously, there could be some money in this game.

    Here's my own reaction to your post: http://quaternion.posterous.com/2010-is-the-yea

    Please, by all means, do a little bit of research before blogging. Or just stop.

  37. 2010 most certainly isn't the year that SEO isn't important anymore, less important? Perhaps, but this replaced by knowledge and action of the factors that are taking greater precedence .

    For as long as search engines offer businesses a route to valuable low cost traffic through knowledgeable engagement w/ factors that help them get there, then the providers of such services will continue to flourish.

    The game is most certainly evolving and yet I suspect that companies and individuals who offer the best insights and tools that help businesses make the most of all channels, through holistic understanding of how they all work together, will continue to be the best to work with.

    SEO isn't going anywhere, it's still a part of the bigger picture, just as is dispaly, and affiliate and ppc. Old school seo techniques may further decline as the risk to reward factors are re-evaluated. Investment in factors that search engines assign increased importance will continue to grow. Businesses that engage socially will succeed, while businesses that don't will fail. It's exciting times for search, the means of succeeding organically continue to change as the signals used to measure them are increasingly aligned to buzz, activity and authority. Which I guess is how it ultimately should be…create value, create conversations, get people talking about you. Similar to how you have here Robert with your linkbaity title 😉

  38. You say tomato, I say to-mah-to. Same difference.

    Good search marketers know SEO, are expert at technical aspects of competitive web publishing, know how PPC and advertising play along with natural (direct traffic) and organic seo. They understand the roots of social media (word of mouth advertising plus publishing tools suitable for the masses, plus syndication in various forms, including verticalization of audience). They know keywords better than anyone, and they understand Google and Bing.

    I'll grant that no one on earth understands Yahoo!, but that's a separate question.

    The best search marketers also understand messaging, issue framing, and market shaping… Where Google points, the search marketers go (often in advance). Right now Google is messing around with everything.. it's of serious concern to search marketers.

    Argue any aspect of SEO vs. “Social Media” as you like… you're a media talking head.. it's what you do. But when the chips are down, and you state that you want clarity and want to inform your readers of the right path, you should point them to known, respected, and capable competitive web publishers who understand all of these components of the online marketing picture. You'll invariably find them at search marketing meetings and in search marketing forums.

  39. re: SEO in 2010
    Its my blog, your blog and everyone elses blog. its my facebook, yuor facebook, my twitter, your twitter, its the dozens of content rich & relevant links on the social networking and blog pages that are changing the game (for me anyway) When a high profile columnist in Australia twittered her followers about my website, the traffic went through the roof – like NOTHING I have seen before on a google analytics report. It all changed for me right then. Google, Bing and basic SEO startegies are still alive and well but a good link on the right social networking page – or on the end of a big tweet – is a game changer.

    Regards David Lithgow
    http://www.FashionAddict.com.au – Director

  40. Hi Drew, Can I ask why you linked to your Blog?
    I think this is where the SEO game is changing. Businesses and Bloggers alike are signalling to an engaged audience who don't need Google to help navigate their path to your website. This was a tiny part of the industry 10 years ago. Today? Its huge. 2010? It will be massive. Direct Referrals from targeted audiences will be more valuable than a bunch of stats and graphs.
    Lastly, the clever (slightly aggressive) tone in your reply further indicates a push to click your link. Nothing wrong with that, but it emphasises the point as to how we are changing the way traffic is driven to our websites.

  41. Sure, Like I said above david, the traffic is certain when a high profiler does a mention of a brand amongst it's followers, however, How consistent or rather I would say How permanent it would be?

    These are some huge surges of traffic which eventually settle down within a very short time frame. To keep a consistent flow and to hold on to the surge to ride the wave as long as it lasts, requires a strong base, and SEO basics (on-page and tid bits of off-page in this case) can provide the same.

    A website http://www.my-domain-is-freakin-damn-good-than-… can surely hold great content, can surely get surges of traffic, but I highly doubt if it can sustain it for long! I for sure, can't even remember what I just typed above 🙂

    I agree with the lines you wrote “Google, Bing and basic SEO startegies are still alive and well” .. Just thought, they are worth more brightness than the amount of the light they are getting right now 😉

    You tempted me to visit your site, duh! Word of mouth also works 😉

  42. Hi David,
    I agree with your insights about the proper strategy for getting users engaged on a blog. I don't think you can do that through “stats and graphs” either.

    I did not make a link to make site for SEO purposes, that wouldn't make much sense – a link in a comment in Google's eye matters little, nothing or sometimes negatively; there are people who spam links to their competitors, after all. To answer your question, though, in your own words perhaps to get “direct referrals from targeted audiences” and hopefully get a handful of Scoble readers who share the “SEO isn't important” sentiment to consider the facts. If it's clamoring for attention, then, gee, yeah, guilty as charged. On that respect, that would put us all (everyone who blogs, comments on blogs, engages in social networks, etc.) before the firing squad.

    Now, if I had a website that was big money to me – my blog isn't – my chief concern would be finding where my best-converting audience is and how to get referrals from there – it could be organic, paid advertising, the radio, who knows? The point is, good SEOs don't reject general online marketing. And as Danny Sullivan notes, this isn't some radical new generalization we've invented here. But to suggest that SEO (one of many niche forms of online marketing) won't be important in 2010 is equivalent to saying that search engines won't be important. If you were an online cigar retailer, for example, would you invest your money in a Twitter campaign?? Do you think all the septuagenarian cigar smokers even know what social media is?

    So 2010 will be like 2009 and the year before and before that. For most online businesses, rankings in Google and other search engines will matter. And SEOs will keep getting paid big money for the huge ROI on this front. As a disclaimer, I'm not an SEO, I'm a software developer.

  43. Robert and George,

    Fascinating– beyond the question of what is SEO, the real issues are:

    * Transparency between agencies and clients– percentage of spend vs fee taken.
    * Simplicity– the local dentist doesn't have time for jargon
    * Performance– and that's where MyNextCustomer.com ties transparency and simplicity together to drive calls, such that we can determine cost per call and number of calls.

    I am excited to see what happens when George and Dustin public release in January– no question their product will KILL it with cost per call. My question will be how ROIworks (mynextcustomer.com) scales up and handles new channels of traffic.

  44. Lee –

    I'm confused. I'm one of the “guys” in the video. This is the second place you've posted an almost identical message (the other is on Search Engine Land). And the second place I am responding to you.

    What do you mean, “obviously, some of the premises in Robert’s post about SEO are “off” and are marketingspeak presented by the guys in the video to distinguish their new project.”

    If you watched the video, you would clearly see that Robert did not use a single quote from us. None of our “premises” from in the video are found in his post.

    The stuff we said is common knowledge among all SEOs working with SMBs and local businesses.

    Let me say this for the 27th time: our interview itself does not agree with Robert's post – and neither do we.

    The whole idea was to have a general talk about search and SMBs, and let folks know MyNextCustomer is coming soon. That’s it. Robert decided to be provocative all on his own.


  45. Love the post. Agree with the reasoning, but I just don't think SEO will become less important. Given the integration between social media and SEO and new developments like real-time search, SEO will become more important. Now, perhaps SEO companies and vendors will become less important as organizations realize that the appropriate way to address SEO is to consistently produce high quality, relevant content.

    Anyway, I used your material and linked to your post at Marketing Trenches in a post titled “Prediction: Marketers Will Publish Lots of Lists in 2010”. Thanks again for providing high quality material and writing.

  46. I checked my SEO and online marketing proposals from over 3 years ago and was happy to see that even back then I was offering my clients social media links, video creation and submissions, press release submissions, article and content submissions, etc.

    The point is that the more you get this stuff out there the more success your clients will end up having.

    I really boils down to exposure, exposure, exposure. If you can get your clients mentioned in the hot spots online and get them exposure to hundreds or thousands of high traffic sites they will end up getting results from that. You need to strategize how you get them there, but like any marketing the more you do, the more you get in return.

  47. Hi Drew,
    It is my opinion that the SMB will not care (ultimately) where the traffic comes from if it results in a sale & can be qualified as the source of the sale, if that is the intention. SEO is so incredibly important to each and every SMB website, but its not enough & 2010 will ram that home. We need to do more than SEO, Way more!

    You say “SEO's don't reject general online marketing”. I hope that is true. It might be grossly unfair, but they will be the first people SMB's look to and ask – what about Twitter? What about Social Networking?

    The Septuagenarian Cigar manufacturer would be silly not to consider tweeting his/her band of loyal fans, suppliers, smokers. You pose the question, “Do you think they even know what social media is…?” I think it is naive not to say yes. I think it is folly if an SEO doesnt introduce the idea to the client. People subscribe to Twitter like they subscribe to newsletters. If you find it interesting, you can do it!

    I think our own knowledge and aptitude at blogging, the speed in which we execute our opinions, and the feedback we gain from a global audience should be passed on to clients (SMB's), by SEO's. They should never stop pushing their links to the top of search pages, however, and I doubt it will ever be less important in a coming year, than a previous year.

  48. Hi,
    “How permanent it would be..?” Not at all! 24 hours of mad, crazy buyers all after the same thing! We sold out, we had add-on sales, we made some money..then it stopped! Then I slept!
    But some have repeat purchased – yes.
    The “permanancy” needs to some from the marketing strategist who has the next idea, the next rollout ready to go. Is this the SEO? Will it hurt the SEO 's business if it isnt? I'm not sure of the answer, but I personally like it when I can call a online marketing team, with a main contact, who is 'all-over' this industry and can accomodate all types of traffic generation.

    Any day of the week, if someone says to me, I'll quadruple your traffic overnight, heres my plan, we'll do it wednesday, here's the detail, here is the target audience (etc etc) want in? I'm in.

    I dont stop the consistent SEO flow, but I certainly dont discourage clever spikes and surges in traffic either!

    Oh, thanks for visiting!

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  50. Good post. I wrote a very similar post on my blog about a week ago, called, “There's no future in SEO” (http://colinalsheimer.com/theres-no-future-in-seo). In it, I took a somewhat similar stance in that there's an ever decreasing need in the marketplace for the SEO specialist. More people are becoming Internet marketing savvy, and know at least the basics of SEO (enough to get them part way there, anyway). Plus, SEO friendly CMS platforms are creating less of a need to optimize code.

    Like you, I just don't see it as a viable industry or profession in the next 5-10 years. The Internet marketing game will be ruled by the generalist, who is adept at using a variety of tactics (SEO, PPC, Social, Content Marketing, etc.) to accomplish a goal.

  51. Danny I think you fell for some old fashioned link bait. Thank you Danny for stepping up to the plate and keep up the good work. I guess this type of “SEO dead, dyeing debate going away” debate will never end. As long as search results are provided in an ordered list. Someone will always try to be the top dog. SEO dies when a search engine stops using links that lead to other websites. When you type in a search query and your answer pops up in plain text/image/video and it's perfect, SEO will die.

  52. “Yep, I've been saying this for ages. We all know that Google often fails to give us good results, throwing up tired and gamed affiliate sites (some made by me!) which don't really meet the user's search requirements. Of course Google were going to improve on this! “

  53. As the technical aspects of creating a website become less of an issue (in light of the numerous pre-built CMS's engineered to produce good markup) and article campaigns & social media become more important, the future will see more of a need for specialisation in these areas. I've written an article on my blog, partly inspired by this post at:


  54. Link exchanges have been irrelevant for quite some time. Real time search is new, exciting and interesting but how many business need to be found in real time search under “tiger woods affair”?

    Don't get me wrong I'm a proponent for social media all the way but the real time search and social media is still very new and evolving. It' has not matured to the level of search engine results pages. Real businesses that offer products and services and still living and dying by SERPs and PPC.

  55. 'CMS packages automatically having “decent” SEO features, etc”

    A CMS like wordpress is very cool and useful no doubt. But it cannot automatically provide you will a top 10 ranking on Google for a well targeted keyword phrase. Sure every once in awhile a blind squirrel gets a nut, but for a business that is selling a product or service and looking to generate revenues online this has to be a deliberate SEO process.

  56. Hmm.. nice post I think, I m not pretty sure that on 2010 SEO will useless, it might transform to more natural and “human”, The SEO company might no longer working based on contract, but they have target for their client website, for example they targetted in 3 months the website will be have pagerank 1, or one keyword with two phrase would be in the top 10 of SERP in 10 days, who knows…

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  57. Hmm.. nice post I think, I m not pretty sure that on 2010 SEO will useless, it might transform to more natural and “human”, The SEO company might no longer working based on contract, but they have target for their client website, for example they targetted in 3 months the website will be have pagerank 1, or one keyword with two phrase would be in the top 10 of SERP in 10 days, who knows…

    posted by : http://www.cybartshop.co.cc

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