SEO, or Search Engine Marketing, has been scrutinized for its intrinsic meaning and where it fits into the scheme of business marketing on nearly an annual basis.  Every year, just like this year, marketing analysts and experts kind of take a moment to step back and reflect on SEO.  “Is this the end of SEO?”  “Is SEO dead already?”  “What really is SEO anymore”. It is truly philosophical.  The fact of the matter is that, SEO is alive and well.  From an employment standpoint and a viability case, SEO and its specific techniques are still important for the success of nearly any business online.  But what will happen to SEO eventually if this year isn’t the year.  Well, two things.  SEO will either evolve into something else (anyone thinking inbound marketing?) or will truly disappear if search engines decide they will simply display results how they want without any sort of a Matt Cutts figure guiding us along the way.  In that case, the optimization of search engine results wouldn’t exist…correct?

Moz, which was formally SEOMoz, dropped the SEO in a sort of effort to step away from the fact that the company created a culture that was SEO-centric.  On LinkedIN, inbound marketing seems to be a trend that’s increasing faster than SEO now, but are they fundamentally different, or are they the same?  From what I’ve read briefly, inbound marketing is sort of a technique that attracts potential leads to your website with top notch content and then nurtures the leads with automated marketing, just as drip marketing (whole ‘nother topic) and then going as far as closing the sales.  It is fair to say that the SEO’s job could simply be to get a potential client to the website.  You could argue the next step would be to help convert using different techniques.  But once the lead is generated, the SEO is out.  Perhaps the inbound marketer is more desirable because they move along to the next part of the marketing process, which is closing.

That being said, what would happen if SEO disappeared.  What if search engines said ‘everything you’re doing to try to optimize your site is not going to do anything anymore.  We will just randomly rank websites differently everyday with no rhyme or reason’.  Well, effectively SEO would be done.  But what are some qualities than SEOs have that are not  necessarily linked to the optimization part?  Here are some takeaways:

  • On-Site Optimization – This one is big, and I believe it is a competency for an SEO.  Being able to observe a website, look at its flow, what is above the fold, what its navigation is and if it works or is too convoluted.  Can you determine if the images are too large and need to be reduced in size to both save room and site load speed?  The list goes on, and perhaps we’ll dedicate a blog to it soon.
  • Effective Copy– Some SEO techniques include internal linking, keyword insertion, use of header tags; but even if these didn’t have an impact on search engines anymore, they can still certainly have an impact on how a person reads a page.  Compelling copy, in the end, is going to do a lot more good for a person reading it than a search engine indexing it and determining its relevant.  Your copy is the core of conversion, along with strong call to actions, so this one will be here indefinitely.
  • Social Collaboration– An inbound marketer in the future is going to build a beautiful and meaningful relationship between your website and your social outlets.  It is important to take a look at how both rely on each other.
  • A/B Testing– Use of heatmaps and A/B tests are always going to be a great way of determining how people are interacting with your site.  Testing and tweaking over time will ensure you’re doing everything you can post-optimization for converting leads.
  • Channeling Into a Lead– Though SEOs don’t always follow through with every step of the sales process, like closing a lead like we discussed, an SEO still has to know how to guide a visitor along and compel them to the point of contacting a business. Strong call to actions, like contact forms and phone numbers, have to be prominently displayed. SEOs also assist with the creation and placement of ‘freemiums’, which are premium giveaway items that you give a person for providing information to you.  Think of these like ‘Download our guide on the 5 best ways to sell your car’ or ’20 things you didn’t know about Facebook’.  These have become quite popular in recent years.

So, there’s life after SEO.  Or it just evolves.  Either way you look at it, many of these core competencies will move along seamlessly as search engines grow themselves with more complex algorithms.  If you have any questions about how your business plans fit into the equation, feel free to speak with one of the experts at Market My Market today for more information.