Search Engine Optimization Will Not Become Obsolete
Defending my job and its honor is the perfect way to celebrate my return from a five day weekend, don’t you think? Of course, you do.
Adam Audette recently polled the very intelligent LED Digest audience, asking: Do you foresee a time when search engine optimization will become obsolete? Why or why not?
Yey, the sky is falling again!
In my humble nobody-asked-me blogger opinion, search engine optimization will never be obsolete because it fills a core need. Web searchers will always need to find stuff and Internet marketers will always need to sell stuff. Optimizing Web pages and creating usable sites helps everyone to do that. As long as the Web exists, there will be a need to make it more accessible. Period. End of story.
Nathan Holley remarked in LED Digest that where search engine optimization comes into the picture is that’s it’s about people and connecting them to the things they want to find. For me, he hits the nail on the head right there. The purpose of optimization is to make expert and relevant content readily available to searchers. It’s not about getting useless pages to rank, it’s about marketing and usability and branding. It’s about directing users to the information they’re looking for. It’s not about links and Meta tags or the geeky tech stuff.
For me, Mike Grehan has written the best piece on Universal Search to date, and I’m not just saying that because he now works for us (Hi, Mike!). His ClickZ article SEO Is Dead. Long Live, er, the Other SEO, as well as his presentation at SMX that I can’t talk about or Danny will make me disappear (he knows people, you know), talks about creating compelling content that users will want to interact with. Engaging searchers used to mean creating a crafty Title or penning a witty description, but that’s changed now that images and video are calling your SERP home. As Mike is on way to being infamous for saying: Would you rather click on a scantily clad image of Shakira or a boring blue link? Which is more likely to get your attention?
This may be 2007 and we’re all pro-feminist around here but pretty girls beat blue links any day. Sorry.
Instead of optimizing single pages and fighting for one of ten spots, you’re fighting for one of maybe two, with spot three (and maybe even spot two) appearing below the fold. You’re being forced to optimize all of your content, regardless of its form, to engage users at the first point of contact. You have to prove relevance immediately. With traditional search engine optimization, Google was trying to get users off the page as quickly as possible; all of sudden Google is becoming Yahoo and acting like a portal. Fight it if you want, but Ask.com’s new 3D interface is the future of search. It’s different and plenty of search marketers are scared of it.
The "death" of SEO, its impending "obsoleteness", its public ban from the cool kid’s lunch table, or whatever else you want to call it doesn’t concern me. It is user and marketer reaction to, and fear of, the turn Digital marketing is taking. We’re not afraid of it. We’ve been testing and perfecting our video optimization, image optimization and other social media techniques for quite some time and we’re confident in our ability to compete and create great sites for clients.
Optimization is becoming more about usability, and using content to create a story and build a brand. The biggest challenge it presents is that it causes marketers to show what they can do upfront. You’re an expert on Shakira? Really, where’s your video? Where are your audio files? Where are your images? If they’re not on my search engine results page I’ll assume you don’t have them. The days of digging into a site to find media are over. Either you show it to me immediately or I’m bored.
We’re now in the era of speed
dating searching. To make an impact, your site must appeal to all a user’s senses and do it straight from the results page. You actually have to be a marketer. Maybe that’s the biggest challenge to sites – remembering how to market your site in a way that appeals to users.