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Is SEO dying as Business?

Days of SEO as a way to manipulate site rankings are counted. SEO is dying as business
I’ll start with that bold statement for those of you who do not like long “foreplay”, and for those who want to know why? - read on.
Why do I think so?
Well, mostly because  search engines get smarter and smarter, aiming to close the gap between user queries and relevance of information. In simpler words they want users to find exactly what they are looking for, and thus search rankings become more and more user-determined.
I was about to write a full-fledged article on this when I stumbled upon this excellent post while doing my research. That post gives a great overview of the history in search engines algorithms, and how those affected SEO and thus destined its future.
The review is definitely worth reading, as this is a by far the brightest and quite comprehensive, yet,  very concise description of the search engines evolution that I have ever come across.
seo seoandtips.com
Basically, it can be summarised like that:
  • Meta tags, keywords density, headings etc.
  • PageRank 
  • Reciprocal links
  • One-way links
  • One-way relevant links
  • How often links are clicked on
  • Gathering and relying on User Data
Gosh! Looks difficult to grasp, doesn’t it?
NO worries, I will give you a hand. In the early days of Search engines, on-page factors  (Meta tags, keywords density, headings, subheadings etc.) meant a lot, and as Greg Howlett says:
It took only a few metatags and such, and within weeks, I was dominant. … That went on for years. Back in those days, a monkey could have dominated search engines rankings.
That’s very true, but those days of Wild West SEO has long gone. Then there was an obsession with link exchange (many webmasters still keep practising this as their main link building strategy), first reciprocal and later 3-way exchange. With time, however, search engines cracked down on both of these and started to give much less weight to those type of links.
Then the smart guys at Google realised that most trustworthy should be one-way links and from topically-related websites. After that it’s got more difficult to manipulate rankings, but SEOs and webmasters have overcome that challenge too by modifying their link-building policies accordingly.

But then, the folks from Big G said: “Hey, look, why don’t we let users  judge how good a website is?” And changed the algorithms to now account for how many times a link is actually clicked.
Hang on.  Do I see your wry face with a silent question “WHAT???” bursting out of your lips?..
I hate to confirm your dreadful apprehensions, but that is true. Nowadays it’s not enough just to get a link from a quality topically-related resource with High PR. For that link to prove its worthiness to search engines and pass appreciable link juice it has to be used!!!! Sure it will pass some link juice even if nobody clicks it once, but only if the link is used often, the  effect will be substantial!
And the last, but not the least: Google started to collect User Data (navigational clicks, form filling info, user’s search requests and many more) to “read” your thoughts and decide whether the sites you visit should rank well on the searched queries.
And this is only the beginning.  I think Google has finally realised a very important maxim -

It’s the user rating of a website that should determine its ranking
This way not only will search engines deliver the most relevant information to web users, they will also minimise an ability of SEOs and webmasters to manipulate search rankings, thus combating spam and ultimately killing SEO as a key to success. Obviously, to some extent SEO will still be efficient, no doubts. In particular, as long as good references in the form of backlinks matter, link popularity and trustworthiness will still influence ranking. However, in the very near future there will undoubtedly be a shift towards content-oriented websites offering regularly updated original content that resonates with the site users.
I am sure you can make conclusions by yourself,  so I’ll spare you time and abstain from preaching. Instead, I just want to quote the words for the post I mentioned earlier:
…as Google can see further into the minds of the user, the SEO smoke and mirrors becomes less effective. It means that search engine optimization as we have known it over the past decade is destined for extinction.
Nothing to add on my part. All is said. But your thoughts and comments are as usually welcome.

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