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by James Perrin on 13th January 2012
The start of the year is often met with a deluge of industry predictions, where experts from all over have their say on what they think we should all focus on. This year was no different, with numerous useful and insightful experts making their SEO predictions.
However, as always, it’s a time of year when the infamous ‘SEO is Dead’ ideas come to the fore, so cue a litany of posts regarding this subject matter. Conversely though, research actually suggests that SEO is being invested in more than ever before. So what’s the answer?
Well rather than suggesting SEO is dead, whether someone truly believed this or they’re just after link bait, some have argued that like any industry, it will merely evolve. Search Engine Optimisation is no different to any other practice which has to adapt to changing landscapes and markets. Businesses up and down the country and all over the world have to change their strategy and tactics to accommodate market changes, and the same can be said of this industry.
The argument always comes about as people look towards changes in search engine algorithms, public attitudes or how another form of technology will takeover. For example take Dave Ashworth’s post where he reveals that at SEO conference Pubcon, one keynote speaker by the name of Leo Laporte, announced to the audience that SEO was dead. Leo’s claim was that with Apple’s Siri, they will eventually takeover from Google as the search engine of choice. In addition that Google will fail in their attempts to become more social.
A few points to consider. Firstly, Google’s pursuit of the social is relentless, and with their latest announcement [See: Google Brings Your World to Search Results], they appear to be doing a good job at integrating these two different online dynamics. Admittedly, its success hasn’t been determined, nor has the success of Google +, and at present Facebook is still by far the market leader. However Google itself is a market leader, in the world of search, which brings me onto point number two.
With such a stronghold on the search engine market, it is unlikely that Google will simply give way to other search engines or interactive platforms such as Siri. Last year Google themselves purchased Motorola [See: Is Google's Motorola Acquisition a Message to Apple?], and clearly have an eye on becoming the search engine of choice for rival smartphones. In fact, this is where a great deal of battleground will be won and lost in the coming year or so. However, whether or not it is Google at the top of the mountain is irrelevant, because as long as search engines exist, the need for SEO will still be strong, which takes me to point number three.
The evolution of SEO. At present, all agencies and consultants look at Google as the search lord, and rightly so, but if they did give way to other search engines, it wouldn’t be the death of SEO; it would just be another chapter in the ongoing story of an often controversial industry. Following on from some tweets I saw recently (See below), this gave me the impetus to write a post defending SEO; and not just because this is the industry in which I work, but from an insider’s point of view, it is clear that SEO will evolve to accommodate the online marketing needs of clients.
What better way of disproving arguments based on opinions, with some good empirical evidence? Push On released the findings of a survey that Brightedge conducted into SEO and Social Media marketing spend – and the figures look good for 2012. Of those who are already participating in SEO campaigns, 72% intend on increasing their spend and 26% aiming to maintain the same level as 2011.
The increased spend is as a result of a change in attitudes towards SEO. It is no longer perceived to be something that a business will dabble in, just to see what the effects are. Rather, businesses are increasingly becoming aware that SEO is an ongoing process that takes time [See: How Long Will It Take For SEO To Have An Effect?]. Moreso, Push On reveals that 78% of those engaged with SEO campaigns are looking to devise global strategies, with 70% already operating in multiple countries.
The evolution of social adds an interesting twist to the SEO death debate. Social signals are becoming an increasingly prominent factor towards SEO, and this will play a huge part in anyone’s online marketing campaigns for 2012. This is also reflected in the survey, which shows that 98% of those engaged in digital marketing intent to include social media to their campaigns.
So, is SEO dead? No. Is SEO dying? I don’t think so. The future of SEO is ever changing, and as long as agencies and consultants keep up to date with the latest developments, the future will be as strong as you make it.