With So Many Variables, Who Can Say What The Future Of Internet Marketing Holds

Me. I can. No, seriously, let me say first that I am not qualified to answer this question.

But I will…because it’s the Internet – where being right has never been so easy.

It all started when I found a three-legged frog circling in the yard. I looked at Gonzo (a name assigned after he took up residence in a tank in the kitchen) and I wondered what type of future this crippled little critter would have. Turns out, his future is mostly meal worms, heat lamps and National Public Radio (his tank is near the radio).

So how is the future of search engine optimization like a three-legged frog named Gonzo? It’s not…at all. I just wanted to share that story.

Matt Cutts Told Me Danny Sullivan Was Mad, And The Future Of SEO Became Much Clearer

My interest in the future of Internet marketing and SEO in particular was truly sparked by a Tweet from Matt Cutts.  

The future of the SEO industry is so bright, I can't even read this.

The future of the SEO industry is so bright, I can't even read this.

So, I ambled on over to Danny Sullivan’s personal blog, Daggle, to find a post about how link spammers totally rocked his wife’s website. Sullivan is mad at pretty much everyone – link spammers, digital vandals, Internet cretins and, of course, the federal government.  And then, in a serious rant-faux pas (French for “smooth move, jackass”), he implores link spammers to ask themselves one gut-check of a question – “Is that the type of thing you’d be proud to tell your own mother about?” And to that, I say, “Really, dude? The mom offense? C’mon.”

The larger question, though, is down which path is the future of the SEO industry headed? Are we an industry that will have to forever combat spammers that tarnish the public image of SEO? Will search engine algorithms continue to evolve to clearly identify link spammers and differentiate between those who actively spam and those who are innocent bystanders (like Danny Sullivan’s wife)? At the risk of sounding dramatic or inciting panic – WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!! AAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! No, really, we are all going to die someday, but I think SEO is going to be OK for the time being.

The Future Of Internet Marketing Is In The Hands Of The Engines

Working in organic SEO is kind of like living under a slightly insane, benevolent dictator – a single ruling entity (Google) lays down the law; doesn’t tell anyone exactly what the law is; and we all busy ourselves trying to be good SEO citizens.

Rub Google the wrong way and you might find yourself relegated to the back benches where people find you in search results only when they accidentally slip into a search-coma and learn what “Results 26,000 – 26,010 of 148,000,000” really means.

So, simply put, Google holds almost every single card in the deck when it comes to the future of search engine optimization. But, so far, that hasn’t been a bad thing. The fundamental goal for Google (and the other major engines) is to make a user’s search experience a quick, accurate process that yields usable results. Trying to placate such a wide-ranging demographic requires the best user experience almost every time. And battling with a frustrated SEO community would not be in their best interest.

In fact, those of us in the SEO industry are in a unique position – search engines provide their service to the people of the Internet directly while we gather to the side, furiously building links and optimizing sites to show the engines that our clients are awesome. We’re like weirdly obsessed digital cheerleaders.

Why the Future of SEO Looks Bright

Because search engines have to perform or get left behind, they are under intense pressure to stay on top. Google has done very well in this respect, having recently weathered the launch of Bing. There are a few things that Google does that keeps them super relevant and the best at what they do.

  • Real-time product changes – Google determines how well your site matches up with what words people use to search. Through search engine optimization, we create content that announces to the engines what a page is about and we build links to let Google and others know that, yes, we have a crew and, yes, it runs deep. So, naturally, people will find ways to try to outwit the engines (through exploiting loopholes or just straight spamming). Through algorithmic alterations in how they value websites and pages, Google constantly keeps the target moving. More accurately, the target stays still, but the bull’s eye is in a different place almost daily.
  •  Accessibility – Google keeps their ever-shifting search algorithm protected. But they sure help the SEO industry out in figuring out which direction to head. If you think about it, it’s like a massive game of bizarro hide-and-seek where we’re all “it” and Google is the only one hiding. Google has a gaggle (YES! I’ve always wanted to legitimately use that phrase) of employees that actively engage with the masses through social networks like Twitter and Facebook. I guess the best way to look at is to consider the alternative – a miserly search engine that guards a rusty ol’ algorithm; scares the damn neighborhood kids out of the damn yard; and only gives access to the highest bidder…or something.
  • Keeping us honest – I think the most notable thing about Google is how it designs it’s algorithm to (for the most part) reward good work and penalize those who abuse the system. How Google continues to separate good from bad will define the future of the SEO industry. It takes almost no effort to stuff a site full of keywords and Google knows that. As a result, pages over-saturated with keywords will draw negative attention from Google’s spiders. Pages constructed and written smartly with properly placed keywords used in appropriate frequency will take more skill and time to prepare, but Google will reward you. Same thing with linkbuilding (generally speaking) – a site with a slim link profile of high-quality sites will perform better than a link profile pregnant with crappy links from suspect sites. Basically, Google has figured out a way to actually reward hard work – a simple concept you would be hard-pressed to find these days.

Despite a Few Hurdles Along the Way, SEO Looks to be in Good Shape for a Healthy Future

OK, I was going to wait until the very end to blast you with this beautiful piece of rock history. Imagine this post as a montage of awesome and this song as the soundtrack:

I know it’s hard to be as cool as that video/song. But, despite the fact that I don’t wear those kind of sunglasses, the future of the SEO industry and Internet marketing is pretty bright. We all work busily to optimize everything we can get our hands on and King Google (although King Bing sounds way better) keeps us all in happy order. And the Internets lived happily ever after.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 20, 2009 and is filed under Integrated Marketing.

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