SEO is aging. Google, after all, was born in 1999, and nearly twenty years old (or more, depending on how you count). And of course Google isn’t the oldest search engine. Yahoo is older, although it used Google’s technology (big mistake), and Bing came out of MSN. The others – like Webcrawler, Lycos, and what not – died long ago. But manipulating search engines via SEO has, at this point, a pretty long history.
I think that SEO, especially “old school” or “technical” SEO is running out of steam. You can see this in the conference circuit. Currently, I am at UNGAGGED which is probably the best SEO conference, and I’ll certainly go to SMX when it comes to San Francisco in Spring, 2019. And then there’s MOZCON in July in Seattle. But take note: all of the conferences are running out of steam, and getting a bit boring. They seem to have lost their way (especially when compared with the incredible dynamism of Content Marketing World or Social Media Marketing World).
First, there’s Google. Search is a Google monopoly and Google has increasingly played hard ball with the SEO community. It shares less and less data, and it’s getting better and better at blocking the old SEO technical tricks like keyword stuffing, link-building via optimized links, etc. It’s harder and harder to “trick” Google, and thus the whole raison d’etre for technical SEO is going by the wayside. If you can’t “trick” Google, then you don’t need a technical SEO if there aren’t any, or are just a few (and they’re dying) sorts of tricks. Second, there’s a huge transition going on in SEO. It’s moving from a purely technical endeavor to a marketing endeavor. You have to have a basic grasp of marketing, of SEO, of AdWords (or Google Ads) as it’s come to be called, and social media marketing. Third, there’s the movement to content. You can’t just throw up crappy content any more; you have to have some understanding of “content marketing,” which means marketing which means writing which means psychology.
Yet, the folks who have traditionally done SEO tend to be computer people. And let’s be blunt: they don’t have good people skills (in general) and they don’t have good writing skills. Which brings us back to SEO conferences. They need to stop being SEO conferences (that is, purely technical SEO conferences) and become integrated content, marketing, and SEO conferences, if not social media. Because the digital world has become much more integrated.