Chris Dixon, co-founder of Hunch.com, has posted a blog about what he considers the death of search engine optimization marketing. This has obviously stirred up some controversy in the marketing sphere. Top line search engine analysis site Search Engine Land has posted a rebuttal to Dixon’s claims, saying SEO is alive and well.
Getting into the mix as a middle man of sorts, Sarah Tavel posted a middle ground stance on her Adventurista blog.
So which is it? Is SEO dead, not dead, or only partially dead?
Most of Dixon’s analysis of why he thinks SEO is dead misses a large chunk of how search engine marketing works. It’s been known for a long time that Google weighs the number of back-links to a site as well as the site’s age (longevity) in its algorithm. Dixon largely ignores this in his comparison of two hotel finding websites.
Search Engine Land then uses this to refute Dixon’s claim and says that SEO is still likely the strongest way to promote a business. Given that SEL is all about search (and nothing else), this is to be expected. They do concede, however, that SEO cannot be the only marketing method if a startup is to succeed.
At this point, Tavel enters with her analysis, drawing up the middle. She says that SEO is a good strategy, but cannot be the only strategy for a startup. In her opinion as a venture capitalist, she sees SEO heading down the same path as email marketing, organic results, etc.
It appears that the middle ground approach is correct. Social marketing is currently the dominant force in most startup strategies. Eventually, though, that too will be replaced, but the old ways of doing things have a way of sticking around. Unless the technology itself becomes totally defunct, old marketing strategies like email, blog writing, etc. continue to hang around.
SEO will be the same.