The Death of SEO

Oh, no! It’s the death of SEO! Run, hide!!
Well, we all knew it would happen sometime — everything we know about the Internet would change eventually, we just didn’t know when it would happen. Let me back-up and explain…

In the beginning…

A long time ago, when businesses first began creating websites to attract new customers and serve existing ones, the problem of getting your website found began to run through the minds of business owners and marketing people. Search engines (like Google, Yahoo, and others) were the predominant way that people found stuff on the Internet. So getting your business’ website to appear on the search engines became important.

In the beginning, it wasn’t too difficult because few businesses actually had a website. But as the Internet grew in popularity at enormous speed, it became evident that in order to get found prominently on the search engines, a business’ website would have to somehow stand out from the pack — after all, you had to be near the top of the search engine results, as people weren’t going to flip through page after page looking for what they wanted.

The early days of SEO

A whole industry built around “search engine optimization” (SEO) sprang-up, almost overnight. Companies and individuals claiming that they were SEO experts would offer their services to help get your website placed prominently on the search engines. Some of these companies and individuals were actually quite good — they understood that the best search engines were, indeed, interested in finding relevant websites to match a person’s inquiry or interest — and some were bad, promoting short-lived tactics that relied on “tricking” the search engines.

My favorite image that comes to mind when people talk about the early days of SEO has to do with the business owner who attends a seminar one afternoon on the importance of search engine optimization. The business owner returns to the office after the seminar and exclaims, “We need SEO! We need SEO!” A co-worker says, “What’s SEO?” And the business owner replies, “I don’t know, but we need it!!”

Such was the hype surrounding search engine optimization — people had heard that they needed it, but very few actually understood what it was.

OK, so this article is not about whether or not websites need SEO, because the answer to that question is remarkably simple: of course your website needs to be optimized for the search engines. This article is about what happens when people stop using the search engines to find what they need.

Death of SEO – Enter Social Media

Let’s fast-forward to today — the largest group of people using the Internet today are the millennials, that group of young people who were born beginning in the late 1990’s – 2000’s. Guess what? The millennials don’t use search engines to the degree the prior generation does — they rely far more on social media. Millennials who are looking for products and services are more likely to tap their social networks for a recommendation than they are to search.

So does this mean businesses should abandon the search engines and forget about SEO? No, it doesn’t. My point in predicting “The Death of SEO” is simply to shine a light on the fact that the Internet is still in its infancy, that it’s growing at an outrageous speed, that we have no way of predicting what comes next, and that the number of opportunities that exist for businesses online is endless.

I don’t know about you, but I’m enjoying the ride!