First, understand that the only reason SEO has ever worked is because search engines were not advanced enough to always show relevant information. I remember when I started selling online. At the time, I had only a few competitors in my industry and it was easy to beat them in the SEO game. It took only a few metatags and such, and within weeks, I was dominant.
That went on for years. Back in those days, a monkey could have dominated search engines rankings. We moved from metatags to inbound links with the right anchor text and continued our domination. How easy was it? I basically knew during that period how many inbound links we needed to achieve top three rankings, and the results were uncannily consistent.
Eventually, the search engines got smarter, and ended the concept of guaranteed SEO dominance. Some people are still in denial. I still have SEO snake oil salesmen calling me trying to sell me link trading services.
Here is why SEO as we know it is going to continue its death spiral. Search engines are too smart and they have a different agenda. They do not want to reward crummy companies that play SEO games–they want to give the top listings to the best companies. And they are quickly gaining access to the information they need to do exactly that. They will use traffic and buying stats to figure out who the top companies are.
Take my industry of health supplements. Do you think Google wants to reward the SEO contortions of unknown companies and affiliates with lots of free business? Of course not–they want to send their visitors to the top supplement sites in the industry.
Within a year or two, they will be good at it. I can predict what supplement companies will be showing on the first page of Google soon. They will be the companies that have strong brands and lots of business. If you are not in the top ten of your industry, you had better find a way to get there in a hurry if you want to be on the first page of Google.
Yes, this means that the rich will get richer and the poor will starve for SEO traffic. If you are not in the first category, you had better find a way to get there quick. The middle class is about to disappear.
In my last article, I wrote about the importance of branding on the conversion rate. If you want a long term SEO strategy, guess where your focus should be? Yes, your branding. Forget the typical SEO tricks; focus instead on building your brand to a position where Google WANTS you on the front page of results.
If you absolutely have to hire an SEO expert, hire one that understands this truth. I think, however, that you would be better served by largely forgetting about SEO and focusing instead on building your brand.