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Google’s press conference about Google Instant hadn’t even ended yesterday when the question of

Is SEO Dead

Started coming up on Twitter, in blog posts and was even asked about formally during the event’s Q&A (the answer was no, twice over, by the way).

No, Google Instant isn’t killing SEO. In fact, nothing’s going to kill SEO. I know there are a lot of SEO haters out there who wish this were so, but that hate comes from a fundamental misunderstanding of what SEO is about. If you misunderstand something so much as to hate it, you surely have no understanding about its future.

No, SEO is not about tricking search engines, nor spamming links, nor ruining web design. It’s about building good content, understanding the ways people might seek it including the words they might use and ensuring the content is search engine friendly along with being human-friendly.

If we’re going to examine if reports of SEO’s death are premature, let’s start with a common definition, which I’ll draw from Search Engine Land’s own

What Is SEO / Search Engine Optimization? Primer:

SEO stands for “search engine optimization.”

It is the process of getting traffic from the “free,” “organic,” “editorial” or “natural” listings on search engines.
There are these things called “search engines.” They are services that allow you to locate information. There are big search engines like Google. There are little search engines like Urban Spoon.

SEO is about understanding how these search engines get their information and what should be done to gain free traffic from them. SEO and search marketers, in general, understand the process of search, and they tap into that process to attract visitors.
What isn’t SEO? Narrow definitions:

• SEO doesn’t mean getting traffic just from Google.
• SEO doesn’t mean getting traffic just from web pages that are on Google.
• SEO doesn’t mean getting traffic just from keywords that were entered into Google.

Shaking your phone to get Urban spoon’s restaurant results is a search.
Google Instant is simply people searching at warp speed. Rather than getting their search results during a search session that might take several minutes, now they might get their answers within a minute. But they’re still searching.

They’re still getting results. And those results can be influenced by SEO, just as they always have.
In addition, SEO includes the process of keyword research. That’s why back in 2005, when Robert Scoble crowed about doing “search engine optimization, blogger style” by getting his brother to rank for “silicon valley law firm,” I poked back.

“SEO Professional Style” means understanding whether anyone was looking for firms using those words in the first place and them. Google Instant reemphasizes the need to do keyword research by examining suggestions, but that was already part of the SEO landscape for ages — not just from the introduction of Google Suggest but going back to suggestions that many search engines have shown within actual results as part of query refinement features. I don’t think SEO is dying. I do think SEO has changed and will continue to change as search itself changes. That’s what makes it an exciting industry.

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