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This week in the Poynter Institute’s blog, Digital Media Fellow Jeff Sonderman wrote that SEO is in “terminal decline.” With the launch of personal search results from Google, there can be no doubt that search is becoming much more personal and customised. Are staples of SEO strategy, particularly link building, obsolete? Is it time to pack up your keywords and go home?

What are personal search results? Matt Cutts explains using an example. As an avid Werewolf player, Cutts did a search (Google, of course) for the general term “werewolf” using Search, Plus Your World. The results were customised, including, even, an image result with Cutts himself in it. The photo was taken and posted by someone in his Circle, Cutts was tagged, and Google returned this personal, relevant result.

The “decline” of SEO, then, comes in the reduced power of the link and the increased power of social media. When your friends and/or connections +1, like, or tag content, it will show up in related search queries because it is more likely to be relevant to you. For now, Search, Plus Your World uses content from Google’s social platforms, but that could well change.

Twitter, Facebook, and other social sites charge that Google is playing favorites with its own content, but Eric Schmidt says results from these sites will be given priority – if they allow Google to troll their data. This is an “if” that Facebook and Twitter are strenuously objecting to at the moment, but in the race to stay at the top of the SERPs, they may alter their current positions.

Is this, finally, the SEO killer that has been lurking in the shadows? Not really. Social media is not replacing SEO. Rather it is augmenting it and continuing its evolution. The cornerstone of any SEO campaign is content, and this can help your site get shared, liked, or tagged in order to show up on personal results. It is offering one more weapon (Google+) in your arsenal, but not everyone is or will be using Search Plus. Solid SEO is still important, but to this, you must add good SMO.

The goal of SEO is to see and be seen, to be found. That goal doesn’t change even though the methods may. SEO isn’t terminal; it just isn’t static.

Posted by Vadym Gurevych, Business Development Director at Bullseye Media

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