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The Dangers in Proclaiming the Demise of SEO

It almost seems to be a new trend: Proclaiming the death of SEO, an end to search engine optimisers, the final nail in the coffin of this most despised of online marketing disciplines. I’ve been guilty of it myself, in some ways. But I’ve come to realise that it’s a very dangerous trend, and a very irresponsible one.

Is SEO Dead?Online marketing, as a relatively new industry and by its very nature subjected to a great deal of change over short periods of time, is surrounded by quite enough uncertainty and hyperbole as it is. Not a week goes by without a new trend emerging, a new platform being launched, a new approach discovered.

Add to this the continuous – and false – proclamations of death of one of online marketing’s most profitable channels, as published on blogs and news sites across the world, and the result is a confusing cacophony of contradicting messages that even seasoned marketing professionals are struggling to understand.

It is more than just confusion though that makes this type of hyperbolic blogging and ‘reporting’ the height of irresponsibility. It is not just online marketing professionals that read these controversial articles. Inevitably this type of content will reach the eyes and ears of entrepreneurs, senior managers, and key decision makers.

The FUD Game

In an atmosphere already rife with FUD – fear, uncertainty, and doubt – when such a destructive message is repeated often enough, many will eventually accept it as gospel. And that has wide-ranging repercussions.

SEO is not just a buzzword to throw around. It’s an industry employing thousands of people across the UK, and hundreds of thousands globally. It represents the livelihood for countless search engine optimisers who will have to struggle all the harder to fight the disinformation and try to sell their services to potential clients. Clients who have read somewhere, or heard it said somewhere, that SEO is dead or irrelevant, that it is a waste to spend money on it, and that a business is better off without it.

But the effects of this misguided propaganda reach far beyond a threat to the income streams of those employed in the SEO industry. It’s the businesses themselves, the clients of online marketers everywhere, that will suffer the most.

SEO is dead‘ is the hype, and many a senior manager or budding entrepreneur will take that to heart when next deciding to build a new website or launch a new online venture. So inevitably, for many online projects, no SEO will be done at any stage during strategy, concept, and development.

The result is a business betting its future on a website that cannot deliver. No SEO means little to no traffic from search engines. Some may succeed, building off of the success of PPC, branding, or plain old advertising campaigns. But these are all costly marketing channels, and once you stop investing in them your traffic will eventually cease as well.

SEO Fairy Tales


Far from dead; it’s essential!

Most SEO-less ventures will fail, because few websites will be able to maintain long term traffic figures from alternative sources. Without SEO, many sites might not even rank on their own branded terms. Without SEO, most websites are doomed to fail.

Businesses will falter and go bust, people will lose their jobs and incomes, and the whole online marketing industry will be deprived of potential clients.

SEO is not a stand-alone discipline. No online marketing instrument is. For a website to succeed, all the pieces of the puzzle need to be in place. Design, usability, branding, PR, advertising, social media, and many more. And most definitely SEO.

I would actually go as far as to say that many online marketing disciplines can be omitted – a great many sites would perform perfectly fine without social media, for example – but without SEO the long-term prospects of an online venture look terribly grim indeed.

SEO is not the be-all, end-all of online marketing. But it is one of its strongest and most vital pillars, and it deserves to be recognised as such. It is no more dead than web design, no less vital than conversion optimisation, no less relevant than branding and PR.


SEO is Dead! SEO is Dead! (please link to me..)

Writing about the death of SEO, whether done for the sake of linkbait, controversy, or under the guise of opinion, is dangerous and irresponsible. Because not only is it demonstrably false, it is also actively harmful for the online marketing industry as a whole.

The next time you feel the urge to write about the death of SEO, or any other discipline for that matter, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you want to go there?
  • Do you really know what you are talking about?
  • And do you fully understand, and accept, the repercussions?

You’ll probably say yes to the first question, and you may even respond affirmatively to the second. But the third question, that’s the tough one.

As an online marketer, when you proclaim the death of SEO you’re not just thrusting a knife into the backs of SEO professionals around the world. You are actually digging your own profession’s grave. This type of writing undermines the credibility of your industry and does nothing but fan the flames of uncertainty.



  1. iPhone Development October 28, 2010

    The moment a new search technology or a algorithm changes expect a blog post claiming SEO is dead!
    I call it cheap link bait.

  2. Pete - Link Brokers October 28, 2010

    Great post Barry.

    Completely agree. It seems that SEO gets its fair share of these ‘linkbait’ (I use that word very very loosely – as it is a very poor example of linkbait) from this source – and from very credible sources such as Edelman.

    As you have said, the net result potential is a number of social websites, with little or no consideration for search at its heart – and subsequently an ever increasing reliance on paid sources such as PPC or Display.

    Not doing so means a highly umbalanced campaign and one that in the long term may not perform as cost-effectively as it could do with organic search included.

  3. Brett Pringle October 28, 2010

    The issue as well with this type of hype, is that it generally comes from people that do not understand SEO or the level of work required to perform SEO effectively.

    It is always easier to bash something you don’t understand, than to take the time to understand it and make a more informed decision or stance afterwards.

    More often than not, it usually comes from some self proclaimed “SM guru” (i know i’m treading on thin ice here, and that is a very big generalisation i admit ๐Ÿ˜ณ ). But internet marketing is made up from a number of different principles, 1 is not better than the other when you start looking at the bigger picture.

  4. steveplunkett October 28, 2010

    if there is data.. then that data will need to be queried.. as long as there are queries there will be search.

  5. Gavelect October 28, 2010

    Well written. Google me be keeping us on our toes a little longer than we want but this just means we need to work harder as competition increases, or maybe some people will take it as gospel and make my life easier ๐Ÿ™‚ don’t think they are that stupid though.

  6. affiliatesea October 28, 2010

    SEO never dies.It changes little bit time to time.But the kind of quality visitors that SEO gives is not possible with any other methods.Organic way is always best.

  7. Keyword Research-Dan October 31, 2010

    Isn’t this always the case Barry? Whenever there’s an algo change or a feature update/addition, the possible effects on SEO are reviewed (mostly speculated upon, that is) and the “SEO is dead” propaganda sprouts up like mushrooms after a good rain. I, for one, don’t take this seriously anymore and I give serious professionals and business owners the credit for being too smart to actually believe that. And if the do fall for it, well I really don’t want to work them anyway ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Barry November 3, 2010

    Thanks all for your comments. Yes pretty much all ‘SEO is dead’ regurgitation is based in ignorance, but that doesn’t make it any less dangerous. Laymen can’t easily distinguish ignorant bullshit from well-researched information, so just ignoring this shite isn’t really an option – it needs to be fought, tooth and nail, and replaced with fact and common sense.

  9. Keyword Research-Dan November 4, 2010

    Good luck with that man.
    Replacing the bullsh*t with solid info is a respectable goal, though not necessarily a realistic one ๐Ÿ˜‰
    We have to do our best though.

  10. Barry November 5, 2010

    @Dan: yeah well I’m an idealist, got to keep fighting dem windmills! ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Blackberry Developer June 20, 2011

    SEO Never die.All things depend upon on your seo works.If you used proper things then its works

  12. iPhone App Developer September 10, 2012

    Nice article. Even though I believe that the existence of SEO will remain till we have websites to promote our product or services. With the onset of smartphone, we engage in Mobile SEO.

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