Interesting video from Rand Fishkin for this week’s Whiteboard Friday. He asks “What is the future of search engine optimization?”
I agree with his early assessment that organic “accessible” search engine optimization and content search engine optimization aren’t likely to change. But then he discusses the social graph and asks whether the social graph will replace the link graph. His opinion is that is won’t. I think it may. Here’s why:
Social media is a little more difficult to manipulate than links. With links you can buy your way to the top despite Google’s insistence that link buying is unethical and will be punished. Buying links under the radar happens and many of the top sites you see in the SERPs got there by getting their links “the old-fashioned way”.
Still, that’s not to say that everyone is buying links. Most webmasters aren’t. But that’s just one example of a way that links can be gamed. Another way is in the process of link building itself, one tactic of which involves using social bookmarking sites to submit “spammy” links. While Google, and to some extent all major search engines, are quick to respond to new methods of search spam and frequently tweak their algorithms to combat these types of links, there are still imperfections in the process. There always will be. Why? Because algorithms cannot perfectly detect user intent. There will always be a need for some type of human review where link analysis is concerned.
With social media, while there are still ways to game social media sites, gaming the entire social graph is much more difficult. Probably not impossible. But difficult. I’d say much more difficult than gaming link strategies.
Once Google and the other search engines figure out how to incorporate the social graph into its authority ranking algorithm then I think you’ll see a different game being played. Bing, or Microsoft, may actually figure that out before Google does. The question is, when that happens will it kill search engine optimization?
No. I don’t think it will. As Rand said, “accessible” and content-driven optimization will always be here. But the addition of your reputation as defined by the social graph can, and likely will, be incorporated into the ranking factors at some point. When exactly I can’t say, but I’d say within the next five years.
Watch Rand’s video and make up your mind: