The Death of SEO? Updated!

A little firestorm has been developing since Ken Krogue a contributor at Forbes Magazine recently penned an article titles “The Death Of SEO: The Rise of Social, PR, And Real Content” and followed up with another excellent article on feedback with some additional thoughts.

In these articles he spoke about a lunch date with an SEO consultant named Adam Torkildson who told him that “Google is in the process of making the SEO industry obsolete, SEO will be dead in 2 years.” The feedback to Ken was immediate and rather vitriolic. I am sure no one in the SEO industry wants to hear this, but let’s be honest. if you are outside of the SEO industry, Google’s move makes complete sense. After all, wouldn’t each of us be better off without link farms and companies touting nonsense SEO claims, wouldn’t it be better for everyone if when searching Google the results were based off matching content, rather than little tricks?

“We hardly do any of the old SEO stuff. It still brings results, but not like it used to. Google is pulling the rug out to provide better search for their audience. They are routing out the counterfeiters. Now it must be real, valuable, content, and lots of community value and interaction” – Adam Torkildson

In the good old Google days, it was important to get links from as many sources as possible, the bigger the site that linked to you, the better your rankings became. The more links the better, it was all about volume first and quality second. Then followed SEO link farms and all the nonsense that came with these sites and today every man and his dog talks about the importance of SEO. I am in no way saying having good SEO foundations is not important, but hiring companies to enhance this – well, I always thought it was just a waste of money.

In recent years Google has been continually updating its algorithms to look for relevant content within websites to match natural search strings. Users of the search engines are also getting better and better at inputting better search queries, so it makes sense to everyone!

The article highlights the important not only of unique targeted localized content, but with the additional of social media links, likes, shares etc. Google also has the power to enhance the strength of its +1 likes, shares etc and because Google Plus is an open platform it obviously makes sense as a business to be all over Google+.

You can make the claim that Facebook is more powerful, but this depends on how many followers you have and if you have less than 1000 then you are pushing waste uphill.

I will go further to say that Google+ will – within a few short years become much more relevant and powerful for businesses, considering its deep business ties to solutions most of us use such as Gmail, Google Plus, Google Places, Google Maps, Google Webmaster Tools and Analytics.

So how will this effect you? Even if this linked article is only partially correct, if you are using software to enhance your SEO, then I would wean yourself off this over the coming months (at the very most a year). If you currently rely on a sound Google Standards based system for your content and continually write your own unique targeted articles then just keep doing what you are doing. You may however think to hire a Social Media Expert who can manage your social media sites or at the very least train someone in-house to do the same.

The final part of the article was about PR, I am not sure on this, as it is outside my area of expertise. So do yourself a favor and read the article and the comments, it is quite enjoyable.

Part One
Part Two

Update: Comment from Adam Torkildson

Thanks for the followup article Peter. When Ken and I had lunch, it was back in March, just about 30 days prior to Penguin. My prediction was based on lots of different things, among them being the fact that google is trying to personalize, localize, and mobilize (not sure if that’s a word..) their search results and properties. Google is definitely pretty far away from being able to personalize everything, and make their search results 100% accurate. But they are working on it very hard, and by invoking Moore’s Law in their behalf, if their algorithm today doubles in effectiveness 2 years from now, most SEO’s will be out of a job just because of that fact. Add to that fact that doing SEO today is really more like doing Online PR and Content Marketing, and you find that the phrase ‘SEO’ will simply fall out of common use and will be called what it essentially is: Online PR and Content Marketing. I’m giving a keynote address to the New York chapter of the PRSA in November about this, if anyone wants to hear more.

Adam Torkildson, Facebook, Forbes Magazine, Google, Google Plus, Ken Krogue, seo

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About Peter J Ricci

Peter Ricci is the Director of Agentpoint.com.au, Business2.com.au, Ginga.com.au and ZooProperty.com and has been involved in designing and developing real estate systems and websites since 1997. In July 2001 Peter founded Business2.com.au to help real estate agents better understand the power of the Internet and the real estate landscape in Australia and New Zealand. Since then he has penned over 300 articles on a variety of subjects in the real estate technology industry. Business2.com.au is now the leading real estate technology site in Australasia.

24 Responses to The Death of SEO? Updated!

  1. Glenn Rogers August 7, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

    I doubt if SEO will be gone completely, even if Google change their algo , it still needs someone to tweak a site to suit.

    There will always be a way round the system and those with the money will rise to the top.

    There will be changes though and I look forward to seeing that happens.

    Google are so important globally now and have so much content to organise they must constantly be adjusting things to keep it all in a reasonable order.

  2. Peter Ricci August 7, 2012 at 3:26 pm #

    SEO will still remain, but considered SEO, that is set up your website to do the basics well, dispense with SEO services that promise to enhance data and links. Google has a guide to follow and you cannot lose if you do it the right way!

  3. Andrew Blachut August 7, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

    I agree with Glenn Rogers. Google is a long way off being able to see relevancy and quality to the point, where that becomes the main ranking factor. Even when they get to that point it’s likely to be able to mimick whatever those factors become. This is because all seo is de-constructive in the sense that seo people first notice what works and then seek to turn that to their advantage.

    As of 7th August 2012 , contextual backlinks,title tags and exact match domains are still absolutely the major rankings factors. Nothing much has changed in that during this year, other than the fact that link networks can be found and devalued. That’s not an algorithm change in most cases, but rather a manual application. PropertyNow for example still holds front page rankings for strong phrases but not for one such as :real estate” which it held strongly for 4 years,thus indicating a penalty for a given phrase which no doubt followed a manual review.

    It’s an undeniable fact that right now I can find examples all over the net of many absolutely valueless and zero content sites who rank number one for some very strong phrases,courtesy of backlinks and/or their domain url alone.

    I do agree with you Peter that its best to give Google what it says it wants. It”s common sense to do that in any case and if your business is a valid one then that should be a given anyway.

    To stop doing what still works today however, is like asking agents to jettison REA….they won’t do it while there is nothing to replace them with. Good article as always Peter and quite topical.

    Andrew Blachut
    PropertyNow

    • Peter Ricci August 7, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

      Hi Andrew
      As this article is more towards small businesses such as real estate agents. Long term it is far far better to work on unique content and Google services (making sure you have all of them up to date. Than sitting and doing nothing and paying an SEO company

      For Portals and bigger players like yourself, a different story!

  4. Glenn Rogers August 7, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

    SEO companies are on the nose anyway, there’s too many of them and most haven’t a clue, however there are still gullible people out there so thats how they( the SEO companies) survive.

    Google Places will assist many bricks and mortar businesses and that could be expanded upon, portals however are different, thats a real battle, with the biggest firmly positioned at the top. Is that fair and reasonable ?
    Probably …yes, it’s nice to have an app like Google all to yourself for the major keywords you need…………ahhh I cant complain, I had that advantage too ..way back when…

  5. Adam Torkildson August 8, 2012 at 4:23 am #

    Thanks for the followup article Peter. When Ken and I had lunch, it was back in March, just about 30 days prior to Penguin. My prediction was based on lots of different things, among them being the fact that google is trying to personalize, localize, and mobilize (not sure if that’s a word..) their search results and properties. Google is definitely pretty far away from being able to personalize everything, and make their search results 100% accurate. But they are working on it very hard, and by invoking Moore’s Law in their behalf, if their algorithm today doubles in effectiveness 2 years from now, most SEO’s will be out of a job just because of that fact. Add to that fact that doing SEO today is really more like doing Online PR and Content Marketing, and you find that the phrase ‘SEO’ will simply fall out of common use and will be called what it essentially is: Online PR and Content Marketing. I’m giving a keynote address to the New York chapter of the PRSA in November about this, if anyone wants to hear more.

    • Peter Ricci August 8, 2012 at 2:51 pm #

      Adam, fantastic for you to take the time to respond in our little corner of the world. I am adding your comment into the main post.

      I would love for you to send us more information on your speech and maybe we can add this as an article when it is recorded and released.

  6. Dave Platter August 8, 2012 at 11:01 am #

    Peter, that’s a great pair of articles. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Robert Simeon August 8, 2012 at 11:51 am #

    Great to see the *SEO SHONKS* being outed!

    It’s business as usual for us – stick to the master plan (which means doing it yourself) as there are no shortcuts.

    For those who tried to cut corners – you’ve wasted your money and now you will have to start at the very beginning :)

  8. Darren McCoy
    Darren McCoy August 8, 2012 at 2:29 pm #

    Plenty of linking cowboys will fall off their horses, and content will always reign!

  9. Glenn Rogers August 8, 2012 at 5:43 pm #

    I wonder if Google should rethink the whole way search is delivered.

    Is it right for REA (for instance) to have the permanent top position for the term “real estate” in a country of 20+ Million ?

    Really…….pemanently ???

    • Peter Ricci August 8, 2012 at 10:30 pm #

      Are they the biggest, most popular “real estate” website in Australia?

      • Glenn Rogers August 9, 2012 at 9:40 am #

        Well I guess they are mostly because of Google so it feeds on itself but wouldnt it be better to rotate say the top 10 to spread the traffic and not hand so much power to one site ?

        This could be applied to all categories or the main ones at first.

        Easy for me to say but REA have Google all to themselves, thats what it boils down to and perhaps thats not how it should be.

        • Katherine August 9, 2012 at 11:49 am #

          Google does not ‘hand’ power out. Google is not the single reason that one site becomes successful over another.

          Google assists website success by placing value on content, quality backlinks and traffic which it uses to attribute authority.

          Google uses this authority to rank websites in organic listings to guide users to the most trusted and valuable content.

          By randomly ‘sharing’ or ‘rotating’ top spot with weaker sites, Google would lose authority and trust itself.

          You sound like a child who wants a trophy for participating.

          • Glenn Rogers August 9, 2012 at 12:44 pm #

            Google is the main reason one site becomes more successful than another, admittedly because they have played the game better than others, but dont pretend that Google isn’t the backbone of the success of REA and others.

            I wouldn’t say Domain is weaker than REA it’s every bit as good in content and delivery of results and Realestateview is far better than REA in Victoria yet REA have the first 4 places for the search term “real estate Victoria” in Google. FOUR places ?

            In fact if Realestateview cut off their feed to REA, REA wouldnt have any Victorian content at all.

            And I didnt say randomly sharing top spot with weaker sites , I said rotating the top 10…..for instance.

          • Peter Daverdson August 9, 2012 at 11:26 pm #

            I just spat out my cornflakes laughing at the statement

            “You sound like a child who wants a trophy for participating.”

  10. Andy August 9, 2012 at 10:58 am #

    Good content will always win, whatever the situation or platform.
    Its a bit like in a group of people, the one who talks the most will eventually be ignored. The one who has the best, most entertaining and original stories will get the most and best quality attention.

  11. RMac August 9, 2012 at 4:21 pm #

    Wake up stop living in the Google bubble. http://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles.html

    • Glenn Rogers August 9, 2012 at 5:09 pm #

      Thanks RMac whoever you are.
      People will click on the first 3 results in any case so thats what they will see more of going forward if thats the scenerio,
      I dont see why they would tailor the results for anyone, we dont want to see the same thing all the time but it’s true we can see different results now depending on the browser and machine we are using at the time.

  12. Peter Daverdson August 9, 2012 at 11:32 pm #

    SEO is snake oil. Its like hiring a clairvoyant to predict the market! I’m amazed that the ‘SEO’ role is a popular high paid one! It just blows my mind.

    As a general rule of thumb, if you have a good website with good content, search will follow.

    Part of the heuristics that go into search rankings is time on site – ie a cookie from google, being seen again by google. If that google is seen again shortly after, it means that the person has backed out and unhappy with the result. Thats how things are tracked.

    To address Glen, part of the reason why REA is so popular with Google is that it is popular with users. Users have a very engaging experience and therefore stay on site longer.

    If weekend.com.au wants some better search rankings then address the consumer engagement on the site against the competition – clearly you’re not up to par if you’re not getting the rankings.

  13. Glenn Rogers August 10, 2012 at 9:39 am #

    Well it works like this Peter my competition has the backing of huge media organisations which means backlinks from very well used sites plus large financial backing and a 10 year head start so I’m not expecting miracles.

    I’m certainly getting the rankings Peter despite your omonymous slur, thanks for your input but please dont bother, I’ve been overrun with useless advice over the years as it is.

    Users dont have any more of a “very engaging experience” with REA any more than Domain or Realestateview, it seems a little odd that you should argue that their popularity is anything but their visibility on Google.

  14. Vanessa August 10, 2012 at 12:22 pm #

    SEO isn’t going anywhere. After 12 years of running a website in a competitive market, we see the strategies just always change. New websites come along thinking “they’ve got it figured” they try to compete using the newest SEO strategy and 12 months down the track, i don’t see there website anywhere… why? Because Google figured it out. So they do a massive algorithm change. But yet our good old site still remains page # 1 and their business and website traffic has plummeted.

    What makes a sites rankings last? If its genuine!! No huge gimmicky SEO pushes, no tacky sales push, no weak content. just a genuine site with genuine content thats not “trying too hard” to stand out.

    Google places will do the trick for any brick and motar real estate office. But i imagine in NSW realestate.com.au is still the #1 website people go to.

  15. Glenn Rogers August 10, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

    “”””””””What makes a sites rankings last? If its genuine!! No huge gimmicky SEO pushes, no tacky sales push, no weak content. just a genuine site with genuine content thats not “trying too hard” to stand out. “”””””””””””””””

    Very true Vanessa.

    Duplicate content was always thought to be a no no but REA and Domain have almost the same content so it doesn’t apply there, it’s the push of media connections and money.

  16. vic Del Vecchio January 31, 2013 at 9:20 am #

    Just surfing for articles, on B2, to help with our launch of our new holiday site and came across this one.

    After four years of being involved in our niche portal we have learnt the hard way that quality content that is absolutely related to the sites ojectives is number one goal in getting google’s attention.

    Secondly, quality backlinks that relate to your content and that of the linking site is also important, but in my view only has minimal impact. A wise man once told me that “Google judges you on the quality of friends you keep”… so for those who have thousands of backlinks, my tip would be get rid of most of them and only keep the ones who have the same integrity as yourselves.

    Thirdly, maintain the integrity of your site. That is; consistently do the things that you claim to be and keep improving on your speed, clarity and functionality, to maintain and improve user engagement.

    We are still around and aim to be for a lot longer and as time goes by we are improving our google page ranking.

    We measure ourselves constantly against the ranking we hold for the key words and phrases that our users are expected to use to find us and we also measure how sites similar to our own are faring in their quest to grab user attention.

    “SEO experts” have no part to play in our site’s relevance. Our experience with them three years ago, taught us one thing- “How not to run a web site”.

    BTW, great article Peter.

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