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Is SEO Dead?

I can't help and see the slew of announcements from Facebook recently at their F8 conference and not think to myself of the common adage from the behemoths of the 90's like Microsoft — "embrace and extend."  I find it ironic that much of what Facebook is executing on is eerily similar to Microsoft's
failed Hailstrom initiative years ago.  I wrote about Facebooks' Open Graph back in November.  Its hard to not look at what they are doing in terms of wrapping the entire Web into a semantically structured environment all housed and operated with Facebook in the middle and think that this is a masterful job of "embrace and extend."  VentureBeat does a nice job of summing up the major announcements with their round-up coverage here

As a current application developer (check out Uno on Facebook) you can already see the advantage of Facebook, you get get access to massive scale — our applications on Facebook already rival our reach in the US and soon the world thru our own operated and operated sites.  This is staggering considering that we have been running casual games sites for 10 years.  In a world where extensions of the FB platform are getting adopted extremely quickly (there are over 100 million users of FaceBook Connect), I wonder what this means for the contextual Web.  Google is most certainly threatened by the idea of traffic share being subverted by URLs and domains on the OpenWeb that can (and will) be treated like suped-up Facebook Fan pages.  Today, I already get more social networking traffic thru Twitter and Facebook versus SEO on this blog.  So, when traffic is being driven by social search, what happens to how we think about driving traffic in the future?  In fact, should I really be viewing Facebook as my posting environment versus Typepad?  Think about how many businesses Facebook could elminiate or how many markets could they shrink?

SEO has was the rage for many years.  A couple of years ago, you would have SEO snake-oil salesman coming into your company jabbering about their "science" while demanding huge consulting fees.  But, I wonder if natural search traffic just wont matter that much in the coming years.  Not only are the search engine providers moving into offensive mode by rolling out their own social efforts (e.g, Google Buzz), but, site owners will have to think thru what their offering should look like the future. 

Facebook is a open, walled-garden.  The traffic techniques of the past are not gone by any means and I would argue that you will always want to own your own dirt (your own sites).  But, its going to be harder to deploy the standard traffic techniques like link baiting that have been used successfully to drive customer traffic.  Your search engine results page (SERP) could in fact become less important when your SEO traffic gets trumped by your SMO traffic.


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