It’s usually of common practice to misinterpret something that you don’t have a fair level of knowledge to understand. It is implicit in the human nature; the bias to focus on the negative side of things before we even consider the positive side… SEO is dead! SEO is “dark magic”!
I remember when I got my first job at a Design agency in Lisbon around 1998. At that time — I was in the last year of my degree –, I had time to experiment, explore and research the Design world. I was full of ideas and great theory of how things could be accomplished, and I even had nice grades to prove that. But, soon I realised that, either inside or outside the company, many people were reluctant in pursuing and trying new stuff… I had heard similar stories from university colleagues that worked at other agencies. Soon it became obvious to me that, most people, are afraid to admit they don’t know something (especially to someone younger). Either because they’re afraid of “losing control” or to be seen as “deprecated” by their peers.
As one gets older in a leading position, if they don’t face challenges on a daily basis, they get “comfortable” without even noticing they are losing on innovation and competitiveness.
So, in my opinion, people are mostly afraid to lose control. Either because they didn’t keep up and explore new technologies, or they thought those would be irrelevant and wouldn’t impact their business… Or just because they lost motivation on what they do, and seek an easy and comfy way to pursue business. When someone tries to challenge them, they become unwilling to listen, and assume they are right at all times. And that’s what mostly happens on the web!
Many “old school” companies ignored the potential of a well established web presence. Either by leveraging the power of search and social media, or because they didn’t try to come up with a differentiating factor. Especially, if it becomes something perceived as given, in the web world. The web, deeply changed the way we access information and get to products. It raised the bar on competition for success.
So, what does all this has to do with people saying stuff like: SEO is dead; SEO is “dark magic”; SEO is “snake oil”; [insert here next meme]?
In my opinion, the “SEO is dead” phenomenon, happens mostly when someone is trying to evaluate something they don’t fully know or understand. This person, just realised they have been losing on something. And now, they need to catch up with it. Somehow… In most cases, they just found out that this SEO thing, somehow affects their business! So they go out, try to get this “new thing” as fast as they can, and they realise it’s actually harder than they thought. In most cases, they even got the wrong/incomplete advice, because SEO is composed by a lot of things. It’s not merely a technical gimmick, or a single factor; a plugin, or outputting pretty URLs. So, they end up not getting the results they planned, and get frustrated… SEO is dead!
SEO = Usability + Creativity + Strategy if you leave one out you're doing something else.
— Pedro Dias (@pedrodias) August 22, 2010
OK! In some cases, that’s just pure link-baiting, but those are the exception…
In general, people don’t like change. We don’t like the idea of having to adapt over and over again. You can see this at its best when Google launches something new; that changes search or anything people are used to. You’ve seen it with Google Suggest, Google Personalised Search, and recently with Google Instant. Well, without change there would be no innovation. And Google loves innovation! So, you do the math.
I don’t expect everyone to agree with me in this post. People tend to learn best with their own experiences. And, doesn’t matter what you write, people will read what they want to read. But, at least, I expect to get you thinking about it. And, maybe next time you hear about some change on the web, on search or social media; or wherever. You consider the positive side and figure out how to adapt, before dumping your negative thoughts and rants straight out.
SEO is dead! Long live SEO!