SEO is dead. Long live SEO

seomagicpill Love him or loath him, you can’t deny that Robert Scoble knows how to get a good ol’ fashioned Internet ding-dong going.  Or perhaps he’s just extremely polished at linkbaiting.  Either way, his latest post on the death of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in 2010 has generated a fair amount of discussion:  most of which (that I’ve read so far) is anti-Scobleizer and pro-SEO.

To be fair to Slimboy Fat though he did posit a question rather than a statement.  He may have been a little too heavily Calacanis-esque in some of his views on SEO  in the post itself but I think the core issue is not whether SEO is heading the same way as Tiger Woods’ marriage, but more a case of ‘you say tomato, I say tomato’ (yeah, you probably have to read that last bit out loud).

To a lot of people – especially small businesses – SEO  has always been something of a dark art.  If you’re on the fringes of the secret society you may believe it’s all about keyword stuffing, dodgy ghost pages and link farming.  Done properly, it’s much more than that of course, but at its heart it’s really about one thing: being found.

As such, the ‘SE’ part of SEO may decline, or more likely morph as we move to better quality real and near time data and information made available through methods other than a traditional ‘search engine’; but the ‘O’ part certainly remains as important as ever.

The tools and techniques may change, and I suspect some of them may have passed Scoby-doo by in the last couple of years, but where Scoble was right (and I think this was what he was trying to say all along), is that whilst the game itself is changing, and you need in turn to change your game – this isn’t your grandfather’s SEO after all – getting found, especially for local businesses, remains the key.

Rightfully so, the well-informed and withit SEOmeisters commenting and tweeting on Scoble’s post are telling him they’ve known this for ages and to ‘get the net’.  I’ll bet there are plenty of SEO witches and warlocks out there who might not be quite so cluey.  And that’s where the business element comes in – particularly for small businesses.  Commentators were suggesting that Scoble’s post might put SEO fear into businesses, or at least give them an easy excuse to drop any form of optimization and go back to flash intros, scrolling marquees and flashing gifs; thereby killing off all of those nice SEO consulting fees in the process.

I’d say – and Scoble has subsequently said this in a number of follow-up comments – that this is nonsense.  The volume of information available on the Internet is increasing exponentially, making it even harder to stand out from the crowd.  Become invisible online and you will suffer – with potentially fatal consequences.

Perhaps to resolve this, we need a new term for SEO.  How about OVO (online visibility optimization)?  Or SEO 3.0 (2.0 is so 2005!).

Suggestions welcome in the comments!