Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Future Doesn't Look Good for Tech-Centric SEO Specialists

Yesterday Forbes posted an article, "7 Bold Statements About the 10-Year Forecast for SEO," that prophesied some intriguing long-term changes for SEO, including niche search engines, the final downfall of old-school marketing tactics, and the unfortunate truth that SEO will never be a professional degree.

The article, by Brent Gleeson, adapted from a talk by Benji Arriola, a big name in the SEO community, is a good read, if only for the "boldness" of the predictions. They're not far-fetched at all, but the're also not common topics in today's SEO world.

One theme struck us as particularly relevant: the evolution of the SEO specialist. Another way to say this: the merging of SEO with other distinctive practices--like, say, content marketing. This is a common theme here at the Organic SEO Blog.

We believe the traditional view of the tech-centric SEO specialist, who codes his way to optimization, is outdated. Today's SEO specialist must be a Renaissance man or woman, talented at many disciplines--or at least smart enough to team up with other talented individuals.

Unfortunately, we are programmed to pigeon-hole specific disciplines. We might hire a website designer, for example, to create a visually-appealing website, and then a different professional to code the website for both users and search engines.

Yes, these tasks are different, and require different parts of the brain, but in today's competitive environment there are plenty of professional SEOs who can accomplish both design and development with skill and talent.

This merging of disciplines inspired one of Arriola's must prescient predictions: "SEO & social media will further merge with traditional PR & marketing practices." As Gleeson writes (quoting Arriola):

"Old SEO tricks at the code level and spammy link building will continue to decrease. SEO will focus on the production of great content that can come in a number of mediums: textual, images, videos, interactive apps, and more. This is what traditional advertising experts are excel at; they just have to adjust it for the user behavior on the web. Link building will involve content promotion, influencer outreach, and relationship building. All the same tactics used in traditional marketing, but powered by new tools and social media. SEOs that do not evolve and understand the fundamentals of traditional marketing and storytelling will become obsolete."

This last line, especially, could be read as the rallying cry for the Organic SEO Blog. Just read any number of our articles on the value of content--of telling a story.

Creating good content can and should be the role of a good SEO marketing company.

Please read: "Quality or Quantity: A Different View of SEO."

For Arriola, the evolution of the Renaissance SEO is tantamount to the end of the tech-centric SEO agency. In another prediction, he regulates the tech-centric agency to its own niche:

"Technical SEO professionals will find better opportunities with software companies, as opposed to marketing agencies."

Again, as Gleeson writes (quoting Arriola):

"Google is always getting better at reading code. It is already interpreting some JavaScript code that other search engines still struggle with. It’s also one of the primary search engines that reads content within Adobe Flash files. On the other hand, software companies that create content management systems are getting better at being search engine friendly, have many features built in, and have advanced plugins many of which are for SEO purposes. B2B and B2C businesses will continue to have more opportunities to use out-of-the-box CMS and ecommerce platforms rather than developing sites from scratch. This will be faster and more cost effective. Businesses will still need agencies and consultants for audits, content strategy and promotion. But most of the technical SEO work will already be done. Technical SEOs will be needed to help build more platforms of this nature."

The last line here feels like Arriola is throwing a bone to the tech-centric SEOs. In reality, the majority of that quote implies that technical SEO work will become automated--and thus obsolete. Of course, in the beginning, SEOs will be needed to "build more platforms," but once this work is done--well, the same SEOs might be looking for work in a different industry!

Have you recently hired an SEO specialist or SEO company? What tasks do you expect your SEO to perform? Let us know in the comments.

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