SEO Tactics Die, But SEO Never Will

Posted by Dr-Pete

Thisis a post that has been gnawing at the edges of my brain for years, and I thinkthe time has finally come to write it. Our recent Moz re-brand launched theinevitable 4,789th wave (and that’s just this year) of “SEO Is Dead” posts.This isn’t a post about our reasons for broadening our brand (Rand has talked extensively about that)– it’s a post about why I think every declaration of SEO’s demise missessomething fundamental about our future. This is going to get philosophical, soif you’d rather go make a sandwich, I won’t stop you.

The Essence ofSearch

Let’sstart with a deceptively simple question – How big is the internet? I’llattempt to answer that by creating a graph that borders on being silly:

Theinternet is so big that even Google got tired of counting,and it’s growing exponentially. Five years have passed since they announced the trillion mark, and the article suggests that URL variations now make thepotential indexed page count theoretically infinite.

Wecan’t just print out the internet and read it at our leisure. We need a filter –a way to sift and sort our collected content – and that’s essentially all thatsearch is. However search evolves or whatever happens to Google, the expansionof human knowledge is accelerating. Unless we suffer a technological cataclysm,we will need search, in some form, for the rest of human history.

Searchers andSearchees

Aslong as search exists, it also stands to reason that there will be two groupsof people: (1) People who want to find things, and (2) People who want to befound. On any given day, we may each be both (1) and (2), and the “people” whowant to be found could be businesses, governments, etc., but for every searchthere will be some entity who wants to have a prominent position in that searchresult.

Thedesire to be found isn’t new or unique to online search – just ask Melvil Dewey or call up “AAAAardvark Plumbing” in the Yellow Pages. What’s unique to online search is thatthe system has become so complex that automated technology governs who getsfound, and as the scope of information grows, that’s not about to change. Ultimately,whenever a system controls who will be found, then there will be a need forpeople who understand that system well enough to help entities end up on theshort list.

Thisgoes beyond manipulative, “black hat” practices – data needs to be structured,rules complied with, and many pieces put into place to make sure that theinformation we put out there is generally friendly with the systems thatcatalog and filter it. Over time, these systems will get more sophisticated,but they will never be perfect. As long as search exists, there will be a needfor experts who can optimize information so that it can be easily found.

SEO Is Not OneTactic

Whenwe say “SEO Is Dead!”, we’re usually reacting to the latest tactical fad orannouncement from Google. Ultimately, though, SEO is not one tactic and eventhough Google currently dominates the market, SEO doesn’t live and die withGoogle. I’m 42 years old, and the public internet as we know it now hasn’texisted for even half of my life. Google is a teenager, and I strongly suspectI’ll outlive them (or at least their dominance).

There’sno doubt that search is changing, and our industry is barely out of its infancy.In the broad sense, though, the need for people who can help construct findableinformation and attract people to that information will outlive any single tactic, anyindividual SEO expert, and even any search engine.

The Construct: Searchin 2063

Sergeihad spent his entire adult life learning how to manipulate The Construct. Fifteenyears earlier, the unthinkable had happened – the collected knowledge ofhumanity had grown so quickly that there was no longer enough space in theaccessible universe to store it in. The internet became The Construct, and it nowspanned both space and time.

Sinceno human could adequately comprehend 4-dimensional data (early attempts at neuralinterfaces drove a few pioneers to insanity), The Construct had to be projectedonto a 3-dimensional orb suspended in a vacuum, affectionately known as the “spaceegg.” With more than a decade of practice, Sergei manipulated the egg like anomelette chef at a 5-star brunch, and what his clients paid him made their $37mimosas look reasonable.

Thismorning was worse than most. The Construct’s AI had detected an unacceptablelevel of manipulation and was adjusting the Core Algo. Sergei could alreadysee the surface of the egg being rewritten, and the change was costing hisclients millions with every passing minute. Luckily, his defensive bots werealready at work, rewriting semantic data to conform to the ripples in the Algo. One thing was certain: the life of a Space Egg Optimizer was never dull.

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