Die SEO, die!
Remember that scene in Fatal attraction with Glenn Close and Michael Douglas, where she just won't die? SEO is a lot like that.
Yes, SEO is something that you need to implement properly to avoid missing out on organic search traffic, but most modern blogging platforms and CMS's incorporate SEO principles into their design. All you need to do is simply write interesting and relevant content about your niche and after time you will build up a sufficient body of content to start driving organic search traffic.
My issue is not that SEO should be ignored, but that it is leeching resources from bloggers, marketers, and businesses who should be spending their energy going after far more important prizes... like authority, social influence and reach.
Before I explain, you might want to read this article entitled "Social marketing: How influence is overtaking traffic as the new web currency". In it you will see how even leading marketers are losing web traffic (on aggregate) but still maintaining their influence (social clout).
Ok, so here's why I want SEO to die...
1. Organic search traffic "used" to be all important
In the old days (a few years ago), everyone built a website or blog and starting creating content. Think of it like staking a land claim. Once you had established some Internet real estate, search engines like Google would index that content and add your site to its search results.
Assuming your content was focused, Google would use its PageRank algorithm to determine the site's importance for various keywords and phrases relating to your content and, hey presto, your content would show up in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
This organic traffic could then be monetized in various ways - advertising, selling products and services, and so on.
Under this old regime, SEO became a way to gain an edge over competitors. Appearing higher up in SERPs meant more traffic, which meant more money. Competition over high converting keywords increased, and the SEO industry was born.
That's fine, except...
2. Web traffic is becoming social traffic
There's a fundamental shift in the way the Internet works these days. Having a website or blog is still important. Creating content is still important. The difference is that content is now for social consumption.
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More and more people are getting their information via FaceBook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Digg, Pinterest and so on. People are spending more time on social networks and less time blog-hopping.
The content you create now has to be easily consumed by people in a social context - twitter headlines, group conversations on linkedin, hangouts on Google+, and so on. In other words, how you interact is now more important than how you create content.
The goal of any blogger, startup, marketer or business should now be to gain social influence and reach within social networks, instead of trying to compete within the bloated and overly crowded search engine indexes - there are so many millions of pages on every conceivable topic that SEO alone is never going to help an individual or small company rise to the front page.
But, the good news is that you no longer need to appear on the front page. If you can get your customers to follow you on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook then you can speak to them directly. Give them what they need before they have to go search for it.
The greater your reach, authority and social influence, the less you need organic search and the less you need to worry about the ridiculous state of affairs that is SEO.
If you can compete on the social web, authority and web traffic in the form of backlinks from major sites will come to you anyway. Backlinks are one of the most critical metrics used to calculate your standing in search results. In other words, increasing your social influence is a more efficient form of SEO than... SEO.
3. Advertising and marketing dollars are going social
Whoever has the consumers' ear, has one hand on the purse strings of marketers and advertisers. If you can show that you have an extensive social reach through a large twitter following, being included in plenty of Google+ circles, or having a healthy Facebook page, then you have a marketable asset.
Think of someone like Guy Kawasaki. I have written a couple of articles recently that mention him because he is pretty much what every social marketer should aspire to become. Check out these articles that highlight his incredible social influence and the massive amounts of revenue he generates as a result:
- Infographic: Visualizing the true reach of social media personalities
- InfoGraphic: Guy Kawasaki's "Art of the start" outsells other titles by marketing gurus
So, whether you want to make money from selling your own products and services, or by selling advertising and marketing, having social influence is quickly becoming the most important factor.
How to succeed & choke the life out of SEO
Here's how you should start operating:
- Create content (on your blog or website) for consumption in social networks - interesting, engaging, noteworthy and relevant
- Build authority and social influence - interact socially to increase your following and number of connections
- Leverage your social influence to generate revenue
- Don't waste time on SEO
That's how I see it. I think the shift from web traffic to social influence has already started. The trend will continue to speed up. If you don't jump on board now, you are going to be left with a highly SEO optimized website that no-one ever visits.
SEO is to social influence what the typewriter is to the PC.
What are your thoughts? Drop a comment below or follow on twitter and Google+ to contribute to the conversation there (Hint, hint... do the second option :)
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