Dealership Marketing

SEO is dead…again

If you’re going to talk about some death, you might as well do it on Halloween.

Jeff just called me to point out an article I wrote about the death of SEO (call it SEO 1.0) over two years ago. I forgot I wrote it, but it is coming true right now.

SEO is migrating to lean more toward site architecture and social presence than tags and on-page content. Rereading the article, and drawing on development challenges I see daily I think even the new SEO model will be short-lived.

In order to understand this we need to first understand the way the Internet works. It was originally created as a way to share static data (digital text…hypertext actually). The addition of pictures and video and forms and ecommerce and all the other things that have been incorporated into websites were not a part of the original design. In order to avoid all the technicalities, let’s just say the foundation of the Internet was designed to be really “flat” and static.

Today, we have an Internet that is getting less and less “flat.” It is getting more and more interactive, but most importantly it is moving away from being a website delivery system and is becoming more of an application delivery system.

Take for example. Facebook is not a static website. It pushes new updates to the news stream, notifications, new comments, friend requests, and even advertisements. A static website would not change based on new data coming in; you’d have to refresh the whole page. Facebook behaves more like an application.

What about the systems you use daily to merchandise your inventory, edit your dealership’s website, and to create digital advertisements? Aren’t these all examples of applications; not static websites.  And the most glowing example of an extremely dynamic application delivered into a browser is a web-based CRM system.

We are growing more and more reliant on our web-delivered applications: Google Docs (Drive), iCloud, GMail, Microsoft Outlook Web Access (for us Exchange users), and the list goes on and on.

I think about sales managers and all the tabs they have open in Internet Explorer… could argue that’s a whole role that can no longer function without web applications.

How does this relate to SEO? Completely! If the Internet is migrating from website delivery to application delivery how does a search engine now find relevance? Does it fully work on reputation? Even that is being gamed just like SEO 1.0 was. Is it about a social presence like SEO 2.0 is becoming? Maybe. Facebook is killing fake likes faster than the Orkin man kills pests.

I bet you’re asking yourself “how does my website become an application?” That’s going to happen in time. You might not even realize it has happened until someone points it out a few years from now. As a consumer you’ll just see it as the natural evolution of the Internet. One day is a webpage, as it is today, and the next day you’ll start to see it act more like an app you have on your iPhone.

As a dealer, is there any action for you to take right now? Nope. Just know that what you think is a constant today probably isn’t going to be tomorrow, but tomorrow will gradually occur just like SEO is changing now.

The interesting thing will be whether the entire Internet protocol (HTTP) system changes because it was not designed for the road we’re on. And another interesting thing will be whether this article creates the same controversy my last one did in the comments string….those old comments are a great read by the way.  The old Article:  And thanks for the reminder Jeff!

Who knew an argument with Jeff Kershner, in 2005, would lead to Alex becoming a partner with him on DealerRefresh. Where will the next argument take ...
  • K
  • November 1, 2012
I don't think SEO will ever die - though perhaps I should define SEO further. In its simplest form, you want searchers to find your site for items it sell and services you provide. Regardless of what any algorithm does, the search engine is still a computer, not a human being, and it relies on looking at content, site maps, links, etc. If your site does not have content that matches to what the searcher is looking for, how can a search engine match that up for a search return? 
I certainly realize that there are more complex issues going on here, but that is the basic foundation of it - Is your site a relevant result for what is being searched for. I think a lot of SEO for dealers is making sure your site has what searchers are looking for, and making sure your automotive website is setup to be search friendly. While many website vendors provide search friendly sites, there are also many other website solutions that need additional input from the dealership to make it search optimally.
Regardless of what anyone says about "SEO will be dead", I think there will always be folks that will provide valuable help in making sure your site meets all current criteria to search optimally. 
And don't confuse my definition of  SEO as "gaming the system". I have always focused on meeting the Google guidelines and just providing what they are looking for, and in the end we have always been rewarded. Cheers!
  • J
  • November 1, 2012
I can't find anything on my phone (or on my Mac).  Guess I'm screwed for future search?
  • C
    Cody Jerry
  • November 1, 2012
Is it Zombeo since it keeps coming back to life?
  • B
    Brian Miller
  • November 2, 2012
Interesting to see I'm not the only person who sees this path. 2 years ago every one thought I was nuts....well come to think of it, most still do.
  • D
  • November 2, 2012
Brian, did you comment over on the blog as well? Love to have ya! Have a great weekend.
  • T
  • November 5, 2012
@KevinFrye B R I L L I A N T !!!  Love the "search optimally" comment.  Totally agree with you...  SEO will never die it will just evolve...  Like the Galapagos...
SEO will evolve and change just as the internet has. SEO will not be dead, it will just take on a new form. Plus, SEO works too good for our dealership and how we market to our consumers. I'm pleased with it but maybe I just know the right people.
SEO will evolve and change just as the internet has. SEO will not be dead, it will just take on a new form. Plus, SEO works too good for our dealership and how we market to our consumers. I'm pleased with it but maybe I just know the right people.
  • T
  • November 9, 2012
SEO is not dead. Google's primary goal to drive as much as possible websites to their Adwords service. They define common standards of commercial sites and by these characteristics have made filters. External factors controlled by penguin, internal by panda. Of course these websites can't have a sufficient original content and promote such sites in a natural way is unrealistic.
Google also say that position themselves as knowledge search engine, but all their actions are directed only to get as much money. Google works only on those services that bring money, not on those that people need. It is their fatal mistake, which in the future will have an effect. Hard to imagine how many thousands of webmasters all over the planet was angry with them, and Google doesn't understand that the dependence can go in reverse way.
And who said titles don't get attention!  Fun to see this whole thing repeat just like it did the first time I said SEO was dead.  And again, people don't realize I'm not actually saying it is dead.
Although I totally agree that SEO is changing, it is far from dead. As a matter of fact I saw an article or video not too long ago from Matt Cutts who works for Google on their web spam team in which he mentioned that BACKLINKS are still the most important factor in determining Google's fancy and secretive algorithm. That means that SEO has not changed as much as you think. We look at the results of what Google displays and think that their algorithm has completely changed, but instead they are displaying their content different.
The most important change is obviously the move towards local listings, which really should not affect you as much as you think. It should not remove your listing for these keywords. It will however make the difference between a dealer that gets SEO and one that does not, smaller and smaller ( manufacturers forcing a website vendor has also made this gap smaller).
Google is king in search and as long as nobody has a better way of performing search, they will stick with their guns...
Traditional search engine optimisation has had its day  thats why the old traditional SEO technqiues could be costing you in time and money. The death of SEO has been proclaimed for years but not dead yet.