Has SEO Jumped The Shark?

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All the factors that contribute to a high search ranking have been the object of much research, debate, speculation and reporting over the past few years. With the amount of data that has become available over that time, however, have we reached the saturation point of SEO knowledge?

Has SEO Jumped The Shark?
Has SEO Jumped The Shark?
Who Can Compete with Google?

”What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun.” – Ecclesiastes 1:9 (Holman Christian Standard)

Jason Lee Miller posted an article earlier this week that highlighted the top ten items that search algorithms are looking for when crawling a site, according to a panel of SEO experts. This is no doubt valuable information for anyone who is new to the search optimization realm, but how much insight is offered to veterans in the industry?

This comment seemed quite telling, “I go over the article but it’s the same thing again and again. There was not a single thing that was new.”

When you really stop to think about it all, can you really pinpoint any major innovations that have significantly impacted what the engines are looking for when indexing a site’s content? Let’s be honest; it all still comes down to two factors: 1) links and 2) keyword density. Every item on that list is related to one of these two fundamental aspects of search optimization.

Should SEO even be part of the conversation anymore? The technical aspects have been quite well established and covered ad nauseum. What new information is being offered anymore that truly goes above and beyond the general consensus of knowledge across the board?

I would be interested to know how the search community feels when they come across that new blog that offers “inside tips and tricks” to improving search ranking.

Perhaps it’s time to really stop and assess the value to the search community in continuing to wax poetic about topics that, quite frankly, have been bludgeoned to death.

Has SEO Jumped The Shark?
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  • Wes Linda

    We all know the positives of eating healthy as well, but I doubt there will be any lack of initiatives from NIH to continue to promote the benefits of eating healthy and why everyone should be concerned about it. While there isn’t any groundbreaking rocket science in SEO these days, the key is that most sites aren’t even close to well optimized and the story still needs to be told.

    • Nicole St.Martin


  • Dave

    Jump The Shark is a euphemism for doing something ridiculous in the desperate hope of gaining back an audience but only driving them further away.

    • Joe Lewis

      Posting the same tips over and over again to keep people drinking the SEO Kool-Aid seems pretty ridiculous to me. :)

  • jim_hedger

    Did anyone take the time to look at Rand’s 2005 survey? There are a number of differences between results from the previous survey and this one. My guess is in 2009, SEOMoz will release another SEO study and there will be a number of differences between it and the one released last week. (actually, the most recent survey has been so successful in attracting attention that I’d be willing to bet Rand does another one next year)

    By the way, has glass blowing changed much over the years? What about the landscaping, home staging, carpentry, chiropracty, or ditch digging professions? Have they changed much over the years? Come to think of it, has rocket science?

    SEO changes with the engines. I think we’re about to see a wash of new venues for search marketing and new techniques to work in them.

    • jim_hedger

      — those new venues are already here… I should have said they are likely to be considered components of a wider SEO/SEM campaign.

  • incrediblehelp

    “Should SEO even be part of the conversation anymore?”

    Your kidding right? If I still see brand new websites being created with no title tags, SEO will always be part of the conversation

  • JohnnyRock

    The problem with SEO is, and always has been, that the industry depends on getting paid to promote Web sites that don’t deserve to be seen. There, I said it.

    For every truly useful, chock full of good content site that needs to have keywords put in the tag, there are a thousand sites owned by companies and individuals that simply don’t have the time, money, motivation or (most importantly) clue necessary to produce a site that is Best in Class, which is what the sites that come up top 10 should be.</p> <p>But the owners of all these lame-ass sites want to be on that first page of results, in large part b/c the SEO industry tells them thats where they need to be to get traffic. These site owners have do have a checkbook, so an SEO charges them to do what the site owner could have done with a copy of “Search Engine Optimization for Dummies” and minimal effort, and then they blame a GoogleDance when it doesn’t work.</p> <p>SEO has been a joke for a long time. Sure, its something that should be done on a site that has the content to support it, but as soon as the SEO has to invent content, like all the doorway pages that are still being published, THAT, in my opinion, is the lame stunt that has caused the Industry to Jump the Shark.</p> <p>

    • jonnyrock70

      Para 2 should read something like:

      “For every truly useful, chock full of good content site that needs to have keywords put in the TITLE Tag, there are a thousand web site owners who don’t have the time, money, motivation, or (most importantly), the clue to produce good content. These owners do, however, have checkbooks, and there is an SEO willing to take that money to do what the owner could have done with a copy of “SEO for Dummies” and then blame a Google Dance when it doesn’t work.

      (I had bracketed the TITLE tag and I guess the script choked on that).

    • billy

      Sites that don’t deserve to be seen – much like comments that don’t deserve to be read – are nothing more than a matter of opinion, and every site has the right to reach a wider audience. If there is a function that helps someone get into an upper echelon, and it requires some skill, then value SEO for that. But if the profit for the SEO is bad, then I guess wedding photographers, car mechanics, and chefs are in the same ballpark. So the professional photography industry is a joke too, based on your thinking, because anyone can get a book called “photography for dummies” to try to get higher results past a disposable camera.

      The web’s biggest fuel is a search engine. Just because people can abuse SEO (like inventing content where there isn’t any), doesn’t mean it’s a joke either. It just calls for validity for proper, necessary SEO. Though it is true that a site can get a higher ranking even when it really doesn’t deserve it, or isn’t the most relevent search result – it might make SEARCH ENGINES themselves a joke first! But you go ahead and live without search engines – you’d be pretty much alone there.

  • David Burdon

    It’s not so much saturation as repetition. Everyone knows the main issues and influences on ranking. The upside is that the publication of the combined viewpoints creates an objective reference.

  • SE-survivor

    Actually, I’ve really been hoping that the industry would just open their eyes and see that the goal has never been to get first page rankings, but rather to sell products and services. The two goals sometimes intersect, but the majority of the time don’t even come close.

    If SEOs would just take that little step around the corner and start acting like marketers, then they could embrace the SEO techniques I use that aren’t even considered on this “done-to-death list” and their results would skyrocket.

    How many clients are asking the wrong questions as well? “Please mister SEO, get me on the first page.” The SEO does it and not one widget sells…and the SEO has the balls to say, “hey I did my part, pay me.”

    SEO is a process that can be applied to many many many different areas on the Internet. Limiting it to home page tweaking is such a ridiculously small part of the process.

    Sometimes I think the real SEO/Marketers out there, that don’t have publicity agendas, are quietly remaking the Internet for all their happy clients.

    And to close…yeah, they’re missing a ton of stuff. I’m really surprised. They must be keeping the good stuff for themselves.

  • Unknown SEO

    Do you not find it funny that it is ‘Always’ an ‘SEO’ firm who keeps publishing articles about how to obtain high search engine rankings..

    Yet, Go to google.com and search for ‘search engine optimization‘… 34 Million Results.. Guess who ranks #1.. Wikipedia… Wikipedia.. A site that has no real optimization at all being is was simply written for a purpose. To offer information.

    Yet we have millions of so called ‘SEO’ experts with Highly Optimized and Focused Keyword Stratigies but yet it’s not an SEO Firm who can take first place on Google for Search Engine Optimization.

    I’ve said it before. It’s search engine optimization firms that want you to believe thier tricks, data, or research because they are out for business. But if you want proof, look at their exising client base.. Do the top positions that they got for thier clients really mean anything?

    If you are an SEO firm who can not get new clients ranked for Highly Competitive Keywords, then you don’t need to be in the business. To many companies are paying dealy for useless keyword phrases and overall, can’t give the customer what they originally said they could. That is why SEO is getting to be so hard because of these wanna bes who claim to know everything but yet thier own client sites show the real proof.

    What we need is a Real SEO Cetification Company who is backed by people such as myself with over 10 years of experience to Review SEO Firms, their methods, there clients. If companies or firms do not promote 100% ethical search engine optimization, you don’t get a certification or seal.

    It’s about time that link baiting, spider baiting, and all the other useless junk gets laid to rest.

    • Chris Mercer

      There’s the same flaws with people and systems in the postal service, politics, the film industry… There’s crooks, manipulators, and morons. This doesn’t strip the true, unequaled value of SEO!

      It may suck, and it can’t get beat, but good SEO can defend against bad SEO. With no SEO we’d have the same relevancy problems. At least now there’s a tool to compete!

  • Jim

    I think the pro-SEO reasons obviously outweigh the cons. If it’s not obvious to you, you don’t really get how things work online, in marketing, and business.

  • sofakingdabest1

    SEO isn’t dead so long as websites continue to spend countless hours and some dollars in the search(no pun intended) for free advertising. Pay for some traditional advertising, and they will come…

  • Lisa

    Quality ethical SEO is still worthy of being taken seriously. That said, good SEO is very thin on the ground and the ‘quick fix’ agencies seem to propagate the industry. Very bad news for the accomplished minority!

    Ultimately, creating sites which perform well for natural search is a whole lot more complex then ‘links and tags’. It’s about creating sites which are high on usability, accessibility, relevance, and which add value to a heavily populated WWW. Forget the blach-hat trickery and ‘dark science’ of SEO – that’s all terribly old school and ineffective in the long-term. All hail the arrival of working *with* the search engines rather than trying to ‘pull a fast one’. Search engines want quality sites which are pro-vistors, not the flash-rich JS-dependent frames-based rubbish which many developers still churn out to prove just how ‘whizzy’ they can be!

  • http://www.rankbetterseo.com/ seo web design

    I think there definitly is a saturation point for basic seo techniques but the real value is understanding how these basic seo techniques play with the more advanced techniques and aslo how they feed off one another to give your site the little extra boost.

  • http://www.folkd.com/user/boots72 L.W. From Folkd

    It’s funny that I found this article, because I was just thinking about this the other day.  I had been into search engine marketing for the past 5 years or so, and thought I knew everything there was to know.  I had well aged domains, fresh, unique, quality content. 

    I had a ton of links to my sites, all of which also had decent content on them, and thought, what now?  I got traffic, but not what I used to in my early days of site promotion.  What was wrong?

    I probably won’t go too much into detail as to what was the "lightbulb" moment, as I know Black Hat guys are always lurking around for that one strategy to help them manipulate Google.  We all know what happens when that info. get into the wrong hands…

    Also, I know that the really dedicated, briliiant marketers out there will have the will power and motivation that I had for years, and will eventually "crack the code."

    The point is, you can know everything there is to know about seo, and still not "get it".  Thee really are no short cuts.  It’s like knowing all of the ingredients to make a recipe, but not knowing how much, or in what order to apply them.  On top of that Google does throw in twists every now and then to keep it fun.

    So, SEO is here to stay.  People will struggle on different levels for years at a time, all the while, Google will throw a few curve balls.  That’s the fun part.  It filters out all the quick opportunists, and leaves the rewards for the die hard adventurists.  I thought to give up so many times, but love that I’m not a quitter.  Good luck, and see ya soon…

  • http://www.seosean.com SEO Service

    Point of SEO knowledge? Nope, I still find tons of people who don’t know a whole lot about SEO and I find that there is still so much more to know and learn even if your an expert SEO. Plus on top of that things are contently changing so the knowledge you gain today may be the wrong thing to know tomorrow.

  • http://www.awebguy.com SEO Lessons

    If SEO lost its value and if we know everything there is to know, then why not abandon all linking efforts and proper writing skills? As long as there is new information to optimize, there will be new and creative ways to optimize it. The new skills we are looking for are in the choosing each word or phrase as we produce and publish our content. The basics are still the same, but each piece of the puzzle has dozens of ways to connect.

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