SEO is Dead.

When Forbes writes an article proclaiming the death of SEO, there is a good chance that SEO might already be long gone.

I’ve always viewed SEO with some skepticism. When I started messing around with HTML the tone of the “SEO” conversation was entirely “black hat.” If you knew where to look, you could find an IRC channel, newsgroup, or a forum in the darkest recesses of the web where nerds would discuss their latest exploits: hacking coke machines, sharing pirated software and gaming Alta Vista, Yahoo and Google.

For the longest time Google’s job was to fighting off black hat SEO tricks. Keywords stuffing, invisible text, http redirection tricks. The Wikipedia article on spamdexing is incredible long. Smart webmaster always avoided these types of tricks, lest they face harsh penalties if Google caught them. Short term gain, long term pain. For their part, Google has historically done a really great job killing these sites – eventually.

At some point  around 2005, the concept of “whitehat” SEO started to catch on, SEO firms big and small were born. Whitehat SEO experts would employ “link building” techniques that skirted just on the very edges of Google’s policies. Generating as many links back to your site as possible all across the web. Part of the job of a good SEO firm was follows Google trends and reacts to new rules quickly as possible. But, even with “white hat SEO” it was still somewhat of a game of cat and mouse. Once a certain technique hit critical mass, Google would inevitably ban it.

So now.

With Google’s increased emphasis on social the line between SEO and social media strategy is blurring. And here’s the thing, as the industries are starting to merge, they are falling under the banner of “SEO”. People who would have previously considered themselves “social media experts” are now printing up new business cards with new titles “SEO Shaman” and “Superhuman SEO Starlet.”

That’s wrong. Here’s why.

Remember blackhat SEO? Guess what, blackhat SEO is always going to exist. There will always be loopholes in Google’s algorithm that can be exploited by cunning individuals. Blackhat SEO worked and will continue to work – in the short term. There is nothing illegal about taking companies money to provide black hat SEO services.

So now I’m confused.

If you told me today that you hired an “SEO guy” I would have no idea what you meant. What is he actually doing? Is he using old irrelevant white hat link building techniques? Is he aware just how irrelevant those old techniques are? Is he a social media guy? Or is he some sort of psuedo-hacker with arcane knowledge of Google Fu? Are you wasting your money? Probably.

SEO is dead. Drop the term. The idea is antiquated.

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