SEO Really is Dead, Long Live…Uh…What Should We Call This?

Buying banner ads on search? Measuring keyword success in SEO via a ranking report? Google looking more like a portal (a la Lycos back in the day)?

No, it isn’t the year 2000 all over again. This is today’s search environment.

The More SEO Changes, the More Things Stay the Same

SEO, at its core, has always been and will continue to be about gaining a natural presence in the search engines. Certainly, over the course of the past 10 years, what that natural presence might be has changed quite a bit (search results are no longer links to “just” 10 web pages).

The changes we’ve experienced over the past few years have certainly gained the attention of our industry. “Content marketing” became a buzz word. Social media marketing has become a routine part of SEO recommendations. Content promotion is key to gaining natural links.

All of these changes were brought “to a head” for me when I read an email from Melanie White, Editor of ClickZ & Search Engine Watch, about the news that SES Conference & Expo is rebranding to become ClickZ Live:

In a natural transition that recognizes the ever-evolving changes taking place in the digital marketing industry and the more diverse educational needs of today’s marketing community, our global SES Conference & Expo series, will be changing its name and rebranding to ClickZ Live.

But what’s in a name I hear you ask? The shiny new ClickZ Live series will be an extension of ClickZ and will incorporate all the many verticals that you can find in our online publication, including social media, display, mobile, gaming, email, digital TV advertising and marketing, and more. As the digital landscape has changed and content marketers have come to expect more beyond just search marketing (SEO & PPC), we too wanted to align ourselves with this evolution. And consolidating the content between our current sessions at SES, along with the breadth of knowledge and topics found online at, under just one brand makes perfect sense.

It seems like “search” is being taken out of “search engine optimization” (at least the focus on “search” is being taken out of the conference formerly known as Search Engine Strategies).

In truth, many companies, including my own, came to this conclusion months ago. We determined that we needed to reposition our company, because what we do mostly (SEO) is now so involved in so many aspects of “digital marketing”. We started with the things that were easily changed (titles went from “SEO Strategist” to “Digital Marketing Strategist” and a redesign/rebranding will be coming soon.

SEO Engagement Today

There are many components of an “SEO engagement” today. Some of those that existed years ago that are now “hot topics” include:

  • Content Marketing: This buzzword has caught fire over the course of the past few years. Many people define “content marketing” as “writing content”, and I suggest that without “content”, you can’t have a web presence. So, is this really all that new? Nope. Been doing this forever, but it is much more than “just” textual content on a web page, now. Infographics. Video. Viral/shareable content. Content takes many forms. The definition of what “content” is has certainly evolved over the years.
  • PR: In the SEO world (years ago) this abbreviation was strictly used for “press releases”. In today’s SEO, it’s more about “public relations”, finding influencers and pitching stories/content or using services such as HARO to find opportunities to have our clients contribute to an article. Yeah, we’ll still involve ourselves in press releases, but it’s more about the promotion of something of substance in order to gain traffic, awareness, and the possibility that someone might actually write about (and link to?) what we’re promoting. “PR” has evolved.
  • Link Building: It’s still important – dare I say “vital” – to work on gaining links for a website to gain a natural presence in the search engines. While the engines work toward lessening the importance of link building, the value of links isn’t purely for SEO. And, today, as we all know – it’s not just about “links” but rather “citations”. These can take many forms, but essentially link and citation building is about “good marketing/promotion”. Link building has evolved.

What Should We Call This New Industry of Ours?

We are, more and more, talking with our clients about things that include what they’re doing with email marketing (wasn’t that supposed to be “dead”, 10 years ago?), video (ideation/production/promotion), and viral content production/promotion.

Krista LaRiviere wrote a terrific piece, “Web Presence Optimization“, about the shift of SEO. It’s absolutely true.

Many SEO/SEM agencies have evolved toward this truth. The SES Conference has evolved toward this truth.

Perhaps “the truth” is that “search” engine optimization has gotten to the point where we need to refer to it as “digital marketing optimization” or “web presence optimization”, or some combination thereof?

What are your thoughts? What should we call this “new” industry of ours?


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