Aaron Wall, an SEO consultant, book author, blogger, and the founder/owner of SEO Book, joins us today to discuss the future of SEO.
Search Engine Journal:
As long as I can remember, I have heard people saying this is the end of SEO. Do you truly feel that if SEOs do not stand up for themselves this could be the end of SEO as we know it?
“I don’t think the industry sprouted up all at once & indeed there were articles about its imminent death years before I even got into the industry, so I don’t think the industry will die a quick death or die all at once. More likely is that people slowly get marginalized while their profits decline & they lose personal freedoms. There was a golden window of opportunity for about a half-decade…and the door is starting to close, but some will still do fine for years and years.
Many independent SEOs comfortably make high 5 to mid-6 figures working for themselves, while some of the most ambitious might do a magnitude greater than that. In the years to come many of those independent SEOs will become in-house SEOs making a fraction of what they used to. Certainly those who are learning how to pay for traffic & gaining expertise in brand building will have more longevity than people who are tightly focused exclusively on SEO.
That said, a lot of folks syndicate propaganda about Google being a white knight and those how disagree with anything they say as being spammers who were black hats who had it coming. Of course the obvious response to that mindset is this: look at Google biz dev. If you do what Google does, you will almost certainly make far more profit than if you do what they tell you to do (but don’t bother following themselves).
A perfect example of this can be found in this WSJ article.
A Google spokesman said “applications that are installed without clear disclosure, that are hard to remove and that modify users’ experiences in unexpected ways are bad for users and the Web as a whole.”
That is what Google says when a 3rd party modifies the Google user experience, but when Google rolls out autolink to insert links into your content without your permission, Google Related to put ads for competing sites and services at the bottom of your website, Google breaks frame blockers in image search so you can’t claim a page view for your quality work…all that is fine. When Google used their iOS Search App to sneak all sorts of other Chrome stuff onto Apple’s iPad that was fine too!
And we recently learned that after the Panda update where poor content had to be punished that Google is now pre-paying Demand Media to generate more content. The inconsistency between their editorial advice & their business strategy is shocking.”
Search Engine Journal:
“In light of the development you highlighted in your “Forget SEO” blog post yesterday, how should companies and SEOs alter their online marketing strategy?”
“I wouldn’t say that there has been a single make or break development, but rather a series of events. Clearly, if you behave as Google does, they find it unacceptable and publicly admonish the behavior.
The utopian view of the web was that inferior middle men and inefficient big businesses would be cut out and great “mom and pop” and small artisan businesses would connect directly to their customers. That perhaps the best businesses would win and there wouldn’t be as much need for marketing and advertising. But, there wouldn’t be so many online marketers if this were true…we would all make bread, repair shoes, or something else like that.
What the utopian view of the web missed was:
- our inherent lazy nature
- the penny gap
- economic incentive structures matter
- those in positions of power rarely volunteer to roll over & die
The web started to peak out in terms of what direct response advertising could earn for the central attention aggregators and suddenly brand + scale magically turned into a “relevancy” signal. In the short run that means investing in brand can be a good idea, or if the cost of that is too high, then perhaps it might make sense to ride on another branded platform. A lot of Youtube & Facebook spam has been floating to the top of the SERPs since Panda, and there are other big sites that are focused on every aspect of ecommerce.
Other marketing channels like display, affiliate, email and even your invoices can present opportunities.”
Search Engine Journal:
“What can SEOs/Google Users do to prevent these types of SERPs pages from being the new norm? Why should people take these actions?”
- Treat Google the same way they treat you. (If they start with contempt and suspicion, so should you).
- Search using something other than Google as your primary search engine. (starve the beast of data)
- Refuse to click on Google ads. (starve the beast of capital)
- Test investing some portion of your AdWords budget on other ad networks. If Bing gives you a similar ROI as Google then it is better to spend as much as you can on Bing because having multiple channels & suppliers lowers your risk over being too dominant on one supplier.
- Create walled garden content & community that is significantly better than anything that is available in the SERPs that people are willing to pay for it. (If Google extracts most of the value from the search ecosystem then keep some of your best information outside of that ecosystem.)
- If you have a great content source that you value & do not want to see disappear find a way to pay them directly or indirectly. If they don’t charge & they don’t have a donate button on their site then demand they put one up. (I love iTulip.com & in addition to being a subscriber I have likely sent them dozens of other paying subscribers).
- Build other funnels into your site (social, display, email, cross-promotional strategies, etc.)
Aaron Wall is the founder and owner of SEO Book, which is the #1 online SEO training program. The program includes a private support community, premium tools, and over 100 custom training modules.