It appears to me that “SEO” is going to have to be replaced by something else in the very near future.
No, it’s not that some folks who are not very Internet savvy think it stands for “senior executive officer.” Nor is it because one not-too-popular geek decided to try to trademark the term.
Search engine optimization, for which it stands, is, well, no longer just about search engines.
In the old days, everyone just wanted to be at the top of whatever search engine was the biggest at the time and we’d all merrily tweak and link and hold our breath whenever updates happened. In recent years, thie focus has been on Google updates, but several things are happening that are taking the “search engine” out of the picture. Among them:
1. Although Google is still the biggest and baddest, ranking at the top is going the way of, well, Yahoo (as I duck and run for cover). Google’s increasing use of personalized search results means that a site can rank #1 for you when you are logged into Google, but #25 for someone else. Heck, you can even customize your own Google search results with their new SearchWiki.
2. Search very often has nothing to do with search engines these days. Frequently, searchers are finding what they want through what are perceived as trusted sources on social media sites like Facebook, StumbleUpon, Digg and so forth or through product reviews on shopping sites like Amazon.com. Rather than take what the search engines dish out, they get their information from friends or peers.
Anyway, my point is that the web is heading away from searching through search engines as the primary way of finding information. Yes, we’ll still be using “Google” as a verb for years to come, but we as Internet marketing professionals will need to adapt. We need to know how to not just optimize for the search engines, but the entire web.
So let’s see. What can we call ourselves? How about web optimists?
I like the sound of that!