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Posted by Dr-Pete

This
is a post that has been gnawing at the edges of my brain for years, and I think
the time has finally come to write it. Our recent Moz re-brand launched the
inevitable 4,789th wave (and that’s just this year) of “SEO Is Dead” posts.
This isn’t a post about our reasons for broadening our brand (Rand has talked extensively about that)
– it’s a post about why I think every declaration of SEO’s demise misses
something fundamental about our future. This is going to get philosophical, so
if you’d rather go make a sandwich, I won’t stop you.

The Essence of
Search

Let’s
start with a deceptively simple question – How big is the internet? I’ll
attempt to answer that by creating a graph that borders on being silly:

The
internet is so big that even Google got tired of counting,
and it’s growing exponentially. Five years have passed since they announced the trillion mark, and the article suggests that URL variations now make the
potential indexed page count theoretically infinite.

We
can’t just print out the internet and read it at our leisure. We need a filter –
a way to sift and sort our collected content – and that’s essentially all that
search is. However search evolves or whatever happens to Google, the expansion
of human knowledge is accelerating. Unless we suffer a technological cataclysm,
we will need search, in some form, for the rest of human history.

Searchers and
Searchees

As
long as search exists, it also stands to reason that there will be two groups
of people: (1) People who want to find things, and (2) People who want to be
found. On any given day, we may each be both (1) and (2), and the “people” who
want to be found could be businesses, governments, etc., but for every search
there will be some entity who wants to have a prominent position in that search
result.

The
desire to be found isn’t new or unique to online search – just ask Melvil Dewey or call up “AAA
Aardvark Plumbing” in the Yellow Pages. What’s unique to online search is that
the system has become so complex that automated technology governs who gets
found, and as the scope of information grows, that’s not about to change. Ultimately,
whenever a system controls who will be found, then there will be a need for
people who understand that system well enough to help entities end up on the
short list.

This
goes beyond manipulative, “black hat” practices – data needs to be structured,
rules complied with, and many pieces put into place to make sure that the
information we put out there is generally friendly with the systems that
catalog and filter it. Over time, these systems will get more sophisticated,
but they will never be perfect. As long as search exists, there will be a need
for experts who can optimize information so that it can be easily found.

SEO Is Not One
Tactic

When
we say “SEO Is Dead!”, we’re usually reacting to the latest tactical fad or
announcement from Google. Ultimately, though, SEO is not one tactic and even
though Google currently dominates the market, SEO doesn’t live and die with
Google. I’m 42 years old, and the public internet as we know it now hasn’t
existed for even half of my life. Google is a teenager, and I strongly suspect
I’ll outlive them (or at least their dominance).

There’s
no doubt that search is changing, and our industry is barely out of its infancy.
In the broad sense, though, the need for people who can help construct findable
information and attract people to that information will outlive any single tactic, any
individual SEO expert, and even any search engine.

The Construct: Search
in 2063

Sergei
had spent his entire adult life learning how to manipulate The Construct. Fifteen
years earlier, the unthinkable had happened – the collected knowledge of
humanity had grown so quickly that there was no longer enough space in the
accessible universe to store it in. The internet became The Construct, and it now
spanned both space and time.

Since
no human could adequately comprehend 4-dimensional data (early attempts at neural
interfaces drove a few pioneers to insanity), The Construct had to be projected
onto a 3-dimensional orb suspended in a vacuum, affectionately known as the “space
egg.” With more than a decade of practice, Sergei manipulated the egg like an
omelette chef at a 5-star brunch, and what his clients paid him made their $37
mimosas look reasonable.

This
morning was worse than most. The Construct’s AI had detected an unacceptable
level of manipulation and was adjusting the Core Algo. Sergei could already
see the surface of the egg being rewritten, and the change was costing his
clients millions with every passing minute. Luckily, his defensive bots were
already at work, rewriting semantic data to conform to the ripples in the Algo. One thing was certain: the life of a Space Egg Optimizer was never dull.

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Categories: SEO

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