SEO will never die

SEO will never die

The hyperbole surrounding the Google Instant announcement has amazed me. Not its existence – I think our industry has one of the highest propensities for exaggeration and embellishment around – but the proclamation that “SEO is dead!”, as a result of search behaviour changes, surprises me.

If it wasn’t clear: I disagree with this. I think the nature of SEO means that it will never die. The underlying principle of getting a website more traffic from search engines (without directly paying for it) remains now as it did when search engines first stumbled into existence. The methods and techniques have changed, but the goal now; remains the same as the goal back then: more (free, targetted, quality) traffic.

Google Instant doesn’t change this, but what Google Instant does have the potential to do is change user behaviourManymanymany people have already outlined the potential impacts the new service may have on traffic patterns; and I think it boils down to two possibilities:

  1. Users become savvier, learning and adapting to how the results change, dependant upon what they search for. Now that every user can see how the SERPs change when typing “Cheap white 4 slice Toaster” as opposed to just “Toaster”, we may see people looking further into the Long Tail; specifying their query more. I think this trend is all the  more likely due to the prominence of Google Suggest on the SERPs showing them options for longer, more detailed queries.
  2. Brands become more influential on a user’s search pattern, stopping a query before completion as the user recognises a site they have a vested interest in and clicking on that result there and then. For example, if somebody is searching for “a book about fishing” but halfway through the query Amazon pops up at the top of the results with heavily targeted “Books” meta data – the user may be liable to just click on the listing and continue their search within a website and brand they trust.

I don’t think these options are mutually exclusive but either way I don’t think SEO is dead. The rules may have changed slightly and as Danny Sullivan puts it “there are a lot of SEO haters out there who wish this were so” but I don’t think their day of jubilation is here just yet ;)