Do you think Search Engine Optimization SEO is a Dying Industry?

Chris

Do you think Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a dying industry?
Here is what John Mueller said:
https://twitter.com/memonsaifbh/status/1438689686977855488

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Stefan
If your still optimizing keyword density and meta tags, ya probably SEO is dead
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Shukla
Its dying since 1999… And its not gonna be like you wake up tomorrow and SEO is gone. It will just transfer from one phase to another phase. For example – Statisticians are now Data Scientist.
I am seeing a lot of new SEO profiles coming up. SEO product managers, SEO data scientist, it is getting mixed with other profiles.
So don't worry and keep learning and upgrading yourself. There are higher chances world would be completely different place after a decade.
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Shormi » Shukla
Can you explain something about SEO data scientist?
Shukla
I see a lot of SEO users using data science techniques for SEO tasks. Look for data chaz and SEO pythonistas on twitter. They are doing some awesome work.
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Marty
SEO can be Dead for Google but still alive for Bing 🙂
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Truslow
As Stefan said in his earlier response… if you're still just optimizing for keyword density and meta tags, then yeah – it's dead.
Back in the early days of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – even before Google hit the scene – it was pretty easy. Match the keywords, submit your site to Alta Vista, and wait. It wasn't even called SEO back then. Web Site Promotion was the term. (And yes, it was two words back then, too – you can always tell if someone has been around for a while if they call it Web Site instead of website.)
I was among the first people in the world to realize that "Technical SEO" was a thing. Back in the early days, it was common knowledge that if you had a dynamic web site, Google simply wasn't going to crawl your site. We could see Google trying – it'd grab a home page maybe, but it just couldn't figure out how to venture deeper. A bunch of us realized that there's no real inherent difference to a dynamic page over a static HTML page beyond the fact that URL structure was a bit different and various aspects of the content might change depending upon who was looking at it at any given time. And so we set about trying to figure out how to get Google in there. We developed some basic standards that took the problem points and made sure they didn't exist. By 2002, at a time where most everyone still believed Google couldn't spider a dynamic site, I'd built a Movie Soundtrack Songs database (based off the IMDB database which was public domain in those days) and had gotten Google to spider and rank over 40,000 pages. I was pretty proud of that because it was only a couple of the big players (IMDB being one of them) who had managed to accomplish anything similar.
There are and always will be new challenges in SEO. Be it Google developing the ability to actually "understand" content rather than just matching keywords or be it Google adding a bunch of things above and beside the 10 Blue Links we call organic SEO. When these new advancements/challenges arise, much of the industry cries out – SEO is dead!
But there are some who realize that Google isn't in the business of making my client's web site rank #1 and make millions of dollars. They realize that's our job. That's why we're here. That's Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
And so they set about being pioneers. Rather than taking Google's new stuff as a personal assault on them and the industry, they set about learning to leverage what they were doing.
Take someone like Jason Barnard (@jasonmbarnard). Over the past decade or so he's made quite a name for himself teaching smaller businesses to leverage knowledge panels and other brand enhanced search blocks – something that originally only appeared for the major corporations. While everyone else said, "Google only wants big corporate America to succeed," he said, "Screw that" and figured out how to make it work.
Or someone like Lily (@lilyraynyc) who has had a decent career and notoriety for a while, but over the past couple years has started to establish herself as the top standards setter for optimizing for the concept we call E-A-T.
So, when Google does these new things, you have two choices. You can sit back, pout, and call SEO dead – and then wait for the pioneers to figure it out, perfect it, and give you a checklist to follow. (Although checklists are getting harder and harder to make because of the ever changing nature of some of these things – hence the notion that the answer to every SEO question is "It Depends").
Or, you can wade out into the waters and be a pioneer. Don't think of these things as something designed to bring you down or to foil your efforts as an SEO. Think of it as an opportunity to leverage something new.
When the knowledge graph was introduce in 2012, one of the biggest "SEO is Dead" trends ever occurred. "Google keeps putting tons of other crap up in front of my listings – there's no way I can compete!"
But for many of us, we realized the truth. It wasn't Google trying to foil our efforts, it was a huge opportunity to figure out how to BE the crap up in front of the 10 Blue Links.
For the adventuring types with the pioneer spirit, SEO is not and will never be dead. Heck, it's just getting interesting.
So, what type of SEO person do you want to be?
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Kevin » Truslow
Don't forget about "Webcrawler" and "Yahoo".
Or those designing differences between IE 4 and Netscape 4.
That nonsense made a lot of us better in so many ways.
My major discovery in the early 2000s was following web standards and creating properly structured, semantically correct pages. Worked like a charm and still does.
Truslow
Yahoo was mainly a directory. They added Alta Vista for a few years, then switched to Google – which ultimately played a big part in the end of Alta Vista. (They may have used Webcrawler for a while, too… I'm a bit fuzzy there). They never really had their own search tech, though.
Ah yes, the "This site designed for Netscape" logos. lol Miss those days.
And web standards are critical for anything competitive. If the template follows them – then it's something that just sort of happens almost automatically when creating content. Computers are good at spotting patterns – and standards create patterns.
Kevin
Webcrawler was just a spammy SE that got SERIOUSLY abused. Google pretty much ended all of them, directories or otherwise (as you know).
In those days you could spam the hell out of the meta keywords tags with predictable results, too. Seemed like whatever you searched for returned a p0rn site…
Truslow
If I remember right, Webcrawler ONLY indexed the meta keywords, right? Alta Vista indexed the pages, but still heavily relied on the keywords to rank things. Google started that way too – but with less weight on keywords and more weight on links (PageRank) to rank things. They started ignoring those keyword metas long before they acknowledged it, too.
Kevin
Pretty much. I think they started ignoring keyword tags *around* 2005 and officially announced it *around* 2007.A lot of this is a blur so it's hard to remember specifics.

Micha
Evolving? Of course.
But dead? As many others have pointed out, this has been a topic every year since the beginning.
I'll go out on a limb to add that, so long as average users continue to prefer organic results over paid, SEO will never die.

Truslow
I don't think it matters if searchers prefer organic or enhanced results. The techniques to optimize may differ, but it's still a search engine and it requires optimization in order to hit those enhanced results. By it's very definition, that's Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Micha » Truslow
Yes, and it's absolutely important to Google how users engage with search results (which in turn makes it important to SEO users). I don't think there's any controversy there.
Google took a different route than Facebook did – Google slowly chips away at organic with paid placements rather than mostly replacing organic with paid.
I suspect they are doing it this way because of user preference swaying heavily towards organic results (call them universal, rich, enhanced, or whatever) rather than paid placement.
Truslow
I see a lot more non paid positions outside the 10 Blue Links than paid ones.

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Kevin
I'm getting the impression that those who tend to complain are frustrated that their attempts to game the Google system are being consistently interrupted with their algorithm updates.
Google is pretty good at recognizing appropriate content, but that kind of content takes knowledge, time and resources to create. Sometimes it can take me 3 or 4 days to create one content page – usually for a service-based business – and it's not cheap.
So, no, SEO isn't dead: It's just becoming more complex and the quick-fixes and "#1 Rankings For $49" pitches are going the way of the dodo.
Just watch these groups every time Google releases an update and you'll see all of the guys freaking out because their spammy sites tanked.
The problem isn't SEO.
Jeff
You have to remember, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) was something that people outside of search engines invented to deal with a new technology that people didn't understand. The first guy to say "Search Engine Optimization" to a client (in a panic) went out and did something that would get you thrown off Google's index these days.
Google may speak "SEO" to us these days as a way to communicate, but for them, SEO doesn't really exist. While SEO may have been closer to hacking in its early forms, these days, it's mostly a repackaged collection of marketing, website design, and public relations tactics that any self-respecting website owner should be doing anyway even if search engines didn't exist, that Google and the other search engines use for ranking.
Some actions we take these days are designed for speaking directly to the search engines (SCHEMA, etc.), but for the most part, everything else should be part of the ways things are done.
So, when John says that it depends on how you define SEO, he's probably thinking of a future where all the various disparate activities that we claim as "SEO" go back to their rightful owners in an organization.
Keith L Evans 🎓
SEO is only a component of marketing. It's always changing, which looks like death.
I made a nice site last year. In 6 months it was getting 5000 monthly visits and I did no advanced optimization strategies.
Give users what they want and you don't need Search Engine Optimization (SEO). But more competitive SERPs will need manipulation.
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