Farewell, Search Engine Optimization, We Hardly Knew Ye
Toprank blog had a short but intriguing essay recently discussing predictions about the Death of SEO within the next five years or so. To me, this is one of those articles that is important not because of the answers it provides but because of the questions it raises. On the one hand, I do agree with the author that Search Engine Optimization is getting harder and harder to do. I say this with some confidence because, over time, I’ve found that the effort that I need to expend to promote a site to top place has grown over time from something I would consider child’s play to a sort of full time Herculean task that may or may not produce results.
So, indeed, to the extent it becomes more difficult, I’m sure that over time SEO failure stories will become more prevalent than the success stories, and that won’t be good for SEO as an enterprise.
I must admit, however, that the author loses me later on in the article when he talks about building traffic through social media becoming more effective. Although in a later article the author does go on to give specifics as to how this might work, I do feel like there’s a little bit of the ubiquitous “If you blog it they will come” hocus pocus going on. To me, there’s nothing more effective than the following scenario:
User is looking for a solution to a problem, and types a search in a search engine.
User finds results that match what she’s looking for, and clicks through to a web site.
The web site looks like a fit for what she’s trying to do, and offers more information.
Phone rings. Start selling.
There are probably cases where one can sell effectively through the social network of fellow bloggers, but it all depends on what you’re selling, I think. In the case of real estate blogging services, the people reading your blog are also your likely buyers. My friend Jim Cronin is doing a brisk business capitalizing on this. But in the case of real estate blogs, on the other hand, I’ve found that most of my readers are either fellow Realtors® or folks who want to take pot shots at us. So there’s no direct correlation between blogging and business – the “social network” I’m targetting here starts with a “G” and rhymes with frugal.
What I’ve found, however, is that this is only working for me on sites with a long history already, so for me, “search engines versus social networks” not is not a case of either/or, it’s a case of one of those hands washing the other.