Oh no! Another “The Death of SEO” Article!

I don’t typically go in for “The Death of SEO” articles, but this one in particular hit a nerve. Jeff Haden wrote an article for Inc Magazine stating as sensationally as possible that Apple’s new Siri technology will be “The End of SEO as We Know It“.

Apple's iPhone with Siri Voice Recognition

It’s ok Scarlet, come out from under the coffee table, nothing to fear here.

Every few weeks someone comes out with an article proposing some new technology that will result in the death of SEO as we know it. Jeff even takes the tried and tacky route of copping back that it’s not the death of SEO but just the death of “traditional” SEO.

Jeff writes, “Siri is a voice recognition app, but voice recognition is just the underlying tool that drives the app. Even though it does appear to work better than other voice recognition software, the key to Siri is what it does with the voice it recognizes: It can update your calendar, check the weather, set reminders, play music, and write and send emails and texts, etc.”  Ok? So where’s the SEOpocalypse?

Is Google going to suddenly see less search traffic because people are starting to talk to their phones? No! Siri is a neat function, a gimmick, but it’s been out for a month or so now and commerce as we know it hasn’t been replaced by voice activated receivers.

The tin foil hat isn’t necessary, to quote RENT’s Joanne “We’re Ok!

Jeff continues, “Does that mean the search engines are in trouble? Not really. Over time much of the data users access will still come from search engines. Siri doesn’t use Google results, but similar Android-based tools obviously will. And Google will certainly adapt to changing user behaviors.

Jeff then argues against his overly sensationalized headline by saying that the search engines have nothing to fear from Siri, and if the search engines are still going to be used more than they ever have, then how does this result in the “The Death of SEO as we know it?”  It’s like he’s speaking a language that Siri can’t follow.

Siri, and other technology like it, identifies a need that Jeff even addresses late in his post, that your business needs to be ready for local search users, optimized for Google Places, optimized for Yelp and TripAdvisor, etc. If you ask Siri for the nearest Italian restaurant, it’s only going to be able to pull from restaurants who actually have a Yelp or any of the other profiles Siri can pull from.

If you don’t have profiles in good standing with these places, you won’t show up in the search, whether that’s through Google or via Siri.  Jeff is talking about modern SEO as if claiming your Google Places page is somehow news.

I typically really like Inc. Magazine, but I’m very disappointed by the quality of this post in particular. You absolutely want to consider your Local Listings beyond just being on Google’s organic search, but that’s been a part of SEO for years.

Jeff’s final point couldn’t be more wrong, “If you run a small business, keep working to improve SEO results on major search engines but spend the majority of your time focused on optimizing listings on Google Places, Yelp, Foursquare, Epinions… because more and more, your customers won’t be hanging out on search engines.

Consumers aren’t spending less time on search engines, consumers are spending more time using search engines on a variety of devices. Where Jeff could have provided some value would have been pointing out the importance of being ready for a mobile equipped consumer.

Ignoring SEO is more hazardous than ever because users who used to sit in their home on their desktop are now accessing Google from more places than ever. They’re better equipped to act on what they search for faster than ever and you have to be ready.

Google’s search volume is not going down, it’s going up every single day. Google stated last year that they see over a billion searches each year that they’ve never seen before.

Check your mobile traffic! – Login to your Google Analytics and check out how many of your users are accessing your site through their mobile device. Is your site mobile friendly? Imagine how badly your site might be performing for these users if your site is not providing a great mobile experience. This stuff matters.

Jeff means well, I’m sure, but he’s wrong. Siri is not going to replace the search engine as the source of information for iPhone users. Will there be Siri Optimization? Probably. But that’s a fraction of a fraction of an already overwhelmed marketplace. Jeff’s advice is as valuable as being told to ignore Google all together and focus only on Bing or Yelp.

The Death of Useful Advice As We Know It! What a shame.