Thursday, December 5, 2013

SEO Really is Dead, Long Live...Uh...What Should We Call This?

Buying banner ads on search? Measuring keyword success in SEO via a ranking report? Google looking more like a portal (a la Lycos back in the day)?
No, it isn't the year 2000 all over again. This is today's search environment.

The More SEO Changes, the More Things Stay the Same

SEO, at its core, has always been and will continue to be about gaining a natural presence in the search engines. Certainly, over the course of the past 10 years, what that natural presence might be has changed quite a bit (search results are no longer links to "just" 10 web pages).

The changes we've experienced over the past few years have certainly gained the attention of our industry. "Content marketing" became a buzz word. Social media marketing has become a routine part of SEO recommendations. Content promotion is key to gaining natural links.
SEO Engagement Today
There are many components of an "SEO engagement" today. Some of those that existed years ago that are now "hot topics" include:
  • Content Marketing: This buzzword has caught fire over the course of the past few years. Many people define "content marketing" as "writing content", and I suggest that without "content", you can't have a web presence. So, is this really all that new? Nope. Been doing this forever, but it is much more than "just" textual content on a web page, now. Infographics. Video. Viral/shareable content. Content takes many forms. The definition of what "content" is has certainly evolved over the years.
  • PR: In the SEO world (years ago) this abbreviation was strictly used for "press releases". In today's SEO, it's more about "public relations", finding influencers and pitching stories/content or using services such as HARO to find opportunities to have our clients contribute to an article. Yeah, we'll still involve ourselves in press releases, but it's more about the promotion of something of substance in order to gain traffic, awareness, and the possibility that someone might actually write about (and link to?) what we're promoting. "PR" has evolved.
  • Link Building: It's still important – dare I say "vital" – to work on gaining links for a website to gain a natural presence in the search engines. While the engines work toward lessening the importance of link building, the value of links isn't purely for SEO. And, today, as we all know – it's not just about "links" but rather "citations". These can take many forms, but essentially link and citation building is about "good marketing/promotion". Link building has evolved.

What Should We Call This New Industry of Ours?

We are, more and more, talking with our clients about things that include what they're doing with email marketing (wasn't that supposed to be "dead", 10 years ago?), video (ideation/production/promotion), and viral content production/promotion.
Krista LaRiviere wrote a terrific piece, "Web Presence Optimization", about the shift of SEO. It's absolutely true.
Many SEO/SEM agencies have evolved toward this truth. The SES Conference has evolved toward this truth.
Perhaps "the truth" is that "search" engine optimization has gotten to the point where we need to refer to it as "digital marketing optimization" or "web presence optimization", or some combination thereof?
What are your thoughts? What should we call this "new" industry of ours?

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