Predict SEO obsolete by 2020

Discussion in 'Digital Marketing' started by mdvaden, Jan 9, 2013.

  1. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,946

    In another topic, I mentioned something along the lines of SEO being somewhat obsolete in a few years. I'm estimating by 2020. I don't mean obsolete in regards to what I refer to as good page design. Like completed title and image tags should be there, and keywords are good. But mainly for reference.

    I mean SEO will probably become obsolete in regards to SEO specialists selling their services to move one site higher than another site. With the exception of where maybe it's a small town or very limited niche.

    But take landscape for example ... where maybe there were 20 websites in west Portland metro area 10 years ago, we're talking a whole different world by 2020 if there's like 200 websites or 500 websites. There's no fricken way SEO specialists can pawn off their services to half those landscape companies to promise any real competitive edge.

    Basically, I think SEO will heavily be replaced by a big shift in advertising and marketing again. And there will be a few sites that juggle-around the top listings due to certain long-time popularity, or huge money investment in something that's more listing related than just "SEO"

    I think what's going to happen, is in about 4 years, if not already, SEO outfits are going to start getting a sour reputation for offering something that can't be maintained or achieved at all, or even affordable. Or the results are flash in the pan, where a site spikes, merely to have another SEO person, or Google's selective process change at the drop of a hat. And then these landscape companies, or whatever companies, are going to just start bad-mouthing how much money they paid to get nothing.

    There's just no platform of argument around this ...

    The math and stats alone would defeat any SEO pro's sales pitch before they even get started. If there's 100's of companies in a niche in one area, and one relevant page of value ... PAGE 1 ... even if every website were masterfully fine-tuned to the limit, only a handful can fit on PAGE one, let alone positions 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5

    So it would not make SEO go away.

    I just see it meaning the SEO profession fizzling severely, where maybe the best 10% remain in business where they can really voice that niche significantly, and the other 90% just marketing website design, or other forms of advertising and networking.

    The lesson being, don't rely on SEO, but just design your website completely. List the needed content, facts, tags, words and contact. Basically make it look pretty and accurate. Then start focusing more on other forms of advertising and marketing more heavily again. Not the yellow pages of course. That's probably permanently doomed.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2013
  2. tonygreek

    tonygreek LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,915

    Good post, mdvaden. While I agree with some of your points, or the spirit of them, I disagree with others you mention. Regardless, it was a good read to get people to think.
    I agree that SEO, as we know it, will be fundamentally different or gone, but it will likely be technology-driven, ie Google's algorithm. Look back 7 years and look how the SEO landscape has changed. Look at what methods no longer are useful, yet people still do. Meta Keywords is the easiest example. I still see people paying SEO "experts" to implement these on their sites. The shadier SEOs gladly take the money. Marketing methods didn't cause that shift, Google's reaction to it did.

    Google moves the goal post whenever they feel the need, usually due to abuse. This is why I think the majority of Citations (as they currently exists) will see a diminished value much sooner than later.

    This has already happened. The industry is, by and large, viewed as the veritable love child of snake oil and used car salesmen. I can count on exactly one finger the number of instances where people have had me review their site and SEO contracts/output and I've said, "You're getting good work done.". In almost every instance, not only is the bare minimum not being done for their clients, they're not doing anything at all.

    I'm amused by two of the web design companies (firms, not DIY builder sites) that I've seen mentioned the most in these threads and their willingness to take on direct competitors. How can you take on two lawn care clients in say, Some City, New Jersey, and promise top rank results for both of them? It takes me less than one minute to find these conflicts of interest, whereas the blissfully unaware clients are paying hundreds a month for this honor.

    Like any other technology and marketing business, they will adapt and ride the next wave. Just like some programmed in FORTRAN, they're now doing so in Java. Just like email marketing became spam-dominated and falling out of favor, and now we're seeing proper, responsible email campaigns being a significant weapon in the marketing arsenal.

    1,000 times this, but you will lose if you do not have a solid SEO plan and implementation.

    Such as?
  3. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,946

    On the latter "such as" ... could be as simple as some folks going back to flyers and brochures. Returning to hard copy if the internet traffic has to be shared.

    I used to do trade shows, and don't now, but could consider that someday if needed.

    Thinking back 7 or more years, I sure recall when Google did not have the local places stuff on the first page. All just search results. I actually liked that better. And wouldn't mind the places part today, all stuffed into one little button, that could be clicked and entered as it's own section. Sort of like how one can use Google images and migrate right away from search results to just images.
  4. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    The biggest thing I wonder is if the organic hits are going to get lost in the shuffle and then money being the biggest driver of your page results.

    Ultimately what I'm trying to say is that your results will be due to how much you pay google or any of the other search engines.

  5. PaperCutter

    PaperCutter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,996

    I honestly think we haven't seen that yet, and will continue to not see that, because the search engines know they're walking a fine line. They exist for people to get relevant search results, and if they start messing with that people will look elsewhere. Someone recently mentioned that she prefers DuckDuckGo because it's cleaner and simpler and she trusts the results more. I think Google will continue to jam in paid results around the "good stuff" but they're not going to go too far.

    As far as SEO dying, I think the algo will become too smart to be easily gamed. If that means that the best results go to the pages with the best content, I'm ok with that.
  6. tonygreek

    tonygreek LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,915

    Love seeing a discussion such as this get started...

    I definitely think the hand to hand combat aspect will be one of the long-term equalizers for a lot of the LCOs. Maybe an increased emphasis on referral generation. For the LCOs that can handle the discount, rewards card points might be one example, whether for referrals, services added, contract completions, etc.

    I think that would have to be one of those things that would have to have a "revolutionary" aspect to it, such as from the consumer end, getting the best, most relevant results. (Personally, I think it will be on search's side, via a "super algorithm" of sorts, but I'll continue with your line of thought.) If I'm Joe Homeowner searching for an LCO who mows in my neighborhood, I would infinitely prefer to have search logic show me those actual companies first. The Local Pack is a start, but it has a long way to go in my eyes. It's a bandaid to fix what Google has let get out of control. If you have to introduce that Pack to show me what I probably want in the first place, something is broken, which leads me to this...I don't want Angie's List or Service Magic cluttering up my feed. If Bob's Mowing has the worst web site known to mankind (and Google), as a shopper, I don't care. It's relevant. I want to see his site before that of a 3rd party who might ultimately charge Bob's Mowing down the line for the lead on the same work I originally searched for in the first place.

    Depending on age, you may recall in the late 90's a search engine/portal site called that was founded by Bill Gross, the founder of tech incubator idealab, and one of the great Silicon Valley minds. GoTo was the company that introduced PPC search results. The goal was to have better, more serious (relevant?) search results via companies who proved their serious nature by paying to be in the results. (I italicized a couple of the previous phrases to point out how they can be interpreted. Think of them as using finger quotes.) Ultimately, GoTo went public, changed it's name to Overture, specializing in what we now view as traditional PPC and, within the loooong dot com era span of 3 or 4 years, was acquired for just South of $2b by Yahoo.

    I bring them up because they pioneered what you're suggesting, but obviously the model they pursued changed to PPC ad placement and not straight, ad-injected results. It's quite possible term warning...a more disruptive approach could bring about an entirely paid search engine again, it's just a matter of what value it presents to all parties, and whether it really does introduce a better way of search operating.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2013
  7. tonygreek

    tonygreek LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,915

    100% agree.

    Bring the focus to the actual, relevant sites and not the tactics to get the sites to page 5 or page 1. If they're the most relevant results, show me the most relevant results. In no way, shape, or form is Angie's List, Thumbtack, or Superpages more relevant to me than the sites that they ultimately direct traffic to. On the flip side, this does bring in to play the businesses that don't have web sites, as they may rely on those 3rd party sites for their primary phone leads, but does this matter to the consumer using the web to search in the first place?
  8. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    Anybody remember Gopher..........

    Just asking.

  9. PaperCutter

    PaperCutter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,996

    If most prospects are like me, they click through to the directory if it looks promising and dismiss every listing without a website. It's 2013, if you don't have an online presence I'll only take you seriously if you're one of these legendary old hermit artisans everyone wants. And even those guys are getting online now.
  10. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,946

    Google's Algo always has it's crippled side, a sort of Achilles' heel.

    I've got one page on my site that I think clearly shows where Google places great weight on a site like Wikipedia, even if the Wiki page does not merit top ranking.

    Google this > "Hyperion Redwood"

    Wikipedia .. although a definition site, is paper-thin on that one. My page is the anti-thesis for content about that particular tree. Wikipedia does not even have a photo for that redwood. And their page content is edited by more or less, completely anonymous people.

    If content ruled, Wikipedia's page should always be subordinate to mine, on that particular subject.

    Proposed solution !

    Google's weakness is computers. The lack of their people doing real content check. My proposal, is a system where people like myself, you, whoever, willingly send them an electronic payment ... say $10 ... for a quick human look at two URLs when I feel a quick 10 minute look can determine if they need to mark one page as better than another, manually. The expense is covered, and any risk would be to the person submitting.

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