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SEO has been pronounced dead ever since inception, in recent years the number of people claiming that SEO is dead for one or another reason has grown significantly though.

One explanation for this trend is that publishers want to gain attention by badmouthing a whole industry, especially as it works really well with SEO practicioners and their enemies. Both cried foul each and every time like some dog which barks once you cross a line entering its territory.

The second major explanation why people mistakenly declare the demise of SEO is the misunderstanding of what SEO really means today.

People take a definition from years ago and explain how according to this outdated definition SEO is not important anymore.

Instead, today I want to explain why SEO still matters in 2011. The current SEO definition is a much broader one than those you’ll find on Wikipedia, About.com or even Quora.

Search Engine Optimization is more than keyword research, onpage and offpage optimization by now.

Some tend to call it digital marketing by now as it corresponds with all kinds of other spheres. It may be social media marketing, it may by conversion (rate) optimization, content strategy or even public relations.

Nonetheless SEO does not disappear and just become part of the marketing or PR department.  SEO teams grow and the SEO specialist profile encompasses more and more skills.

I don’t want to explain what SEO means today in greater detail though. I will focus on the reasons why no one else but a dedicated SEO specialist or better a whole SEO team has to do the SEO work for you.

  1. It’s a full time job to follow all the new developments in the search arena. No single member of the Web development team can even follow all the hundreds of algorithm changes, let alone test the numerous new Google tools and services unless he does solely SEO.
  2. SEO is not just a monolithic industry. There are specialists for disciplines like local SEO, mobile SEO or video SEO because these parts of search engine optimization are complicated enough by themselves.
  3. SEO is also a unique mix of web development, content creation, web analytics, social networking, user experience design and a lot more. Experts in these trades have some understanding of SEO but they don’t often venture beyond their own niche. Web developers tend to focus on technical aspects of SEO, copy writers on the content and so on. You need at least one person who focuses mainly on SEO combining all of these aspects.

With the growing importance of social search and social networking activity as a ranking signal every SEO also needs a thorough understanding of social media and how it works. First generation SEO veterans often failed to cope with social media as they were used to automating SEO tasks and robots were their counterparts not human beings.

Traditional old school SEO practicioners often came from a programming or web development background and thus weren’t able to accept the paradigm shift towards the more social SEO that is common by now.

The solely technical SEO does not suffice in 2011 anymore but the current kind of SEO does: the interdisciplinary, social media oriented and marketing savvy one. This kind of SEO matters more than ever.

* CC image by Josh Janssen