After years of SEO practice I’ve asked myself more often recently: can Search Engine Optimization in its current form survive the next decade?
SEO is clearly not dead yet but I can’t ignore the impression anymore that it’s stagnating.
How can we improve and expand SEO as a whole to make it apt for another decade?
SEO is alive, it’s time for a new name though
No, this is not another slightly veiled “SEO is dead” post. I have written about that numerous of times despite dwindling demand for that kind of mockery. Today I want to seriously contemplate the evolution of SEO and debate how we can influence it. Even the SEO acronym itself already sounds quite antiquated for a while.
For the general public, SEO never meant anything much but also the industry itself is less keen on sticking to it.
There are many renegades to various marketing disciplines, depending on the latest hypes, but that’s not the same. You can’t simply rename yourself and keep on performing the same tasks under a new guise. That’s more like cheating yourself. SEO is not marketing period. Yes, it’s good to include some SEO into your overall marketing plan. No, it’s a mistake to reduce search engine optimization to marketing purposes.
You can optimize without selling – marketing without sales doesn’t exist
To claim that optimization is marketing is like saying that fixing a bike is about selling it. You can sell a used bike you have repaired but that’s two different things nonetheless. The act of fixing or improving things online is not necessarily part of marketing. Limiting website optimization for search just to another pawn in the marketing game is actually castrating SEO. It’s like saying you won’t fix that bike as long as you can’t sell it.
Optimization is about improving things. Marketing is about selling them.
It’s clear that now is the time to step up the game. We can’t just stick to the past out of habit. We can’t go on algorithm chasing and Google begging for forgiveness. We can’t keep on competing with Google for the ever shrinking organic reach. Like Facebook, Google is working hard each day on making search more about showing ads than actually showing websites that haven’t paid for inclusion.
Acronyms come and go
SEO gets increasingly replaced by Search Engine Marketing aka Pay-per-Click ads just like its little sibling SMO (social media optimization) has made way for Social Media Marketing (SMM) which is more about paying Facebook than anything else by now.
Yes, you rarely even see the acronym SMO anymore. It’s all social media marketing or better content marketing by now. Content marketing has run against the wall itself this year.
You can’t spew out ever more content or make it even more “ultimate” than the last one. The human attention is finite.
Inside larger companies, there is a shift towards consolidating marketing, PR and internet departments. That’s not just about SEO but also UX (the artist formerly known as web design) for example. Also the overall umbrella seems to be either advertising or sales.
Will oblivion cure the identity crisis?
Some corporations and independent agencies even shun most weird industry lingo altogether. They rather don’t use acronyms nobody understand and just explain what they are doing in common or business terms. The identity crisis is an elite things. Most people outside our niche don’t care or even notice what’s going on.
I refuse to give up and solely pay entry to gatekeepers like I’m a teenager again wanting to enter a night club.
I don’t believe in dependency or huge corporations and their walled garden ecosystems. I won’t build apps for Apple, Google or Microsoft. They might even go defunct any day. I want to optimize and promote things on the free internet. It’s both free as in beer and free as in freedom.
It’s time to realign priorities
Do we want to keep sticking to the past, try to lie to ourselves and others that we’re marketers or join the growing numbers of those who give up altogether? Or do we want to improve our whole discipline? Do we want to keep innovating? Do we want to grow in scope like we grow our businesses?
Do we want to enter the mainstream? Do we want our families to understand and approve of what we do?
Personally I have chosen the path of popularization. I have been a popularizer for at least a decade without realizing it. I have written numerous articles about how to get popular or how to optimize things for people. Now I finally accepted that what I do can also be expressed by a quite easily understandable word.
Yes, popularization is not only self-explanatory but it also covers what we optimizers do increasingly. It also separates us from the marketers. Yes, popularizing something may also lead to increased sales but it’s not the sole goal popularization. Also popularization is international as a word.
The term popularization works not only in English, it’s also self-evident in Spanish (popularización), German (Popularisierung) even Polish (popularyzacja).
You do not need numerous different terms for each language. Popularization is an existing word that means almost the same thing all over the world. I wonder why nobody has already embraced it earlier. I’m a popularizer. For example I love to popularize parkour despite not selling it. In 2015 I will popularize popularization itself. Are you with me?