Survival in wild we(b)st - The Evolving business of SEO
Yesterday i pointed out an entry on Search Engine Journal by Jim Hedger. Today young Jimmy boy returns with some pretty well thought out and compelling theories on what the future holds for SEO/SEM as we currently know it.
It's kind of funny as he uses the "wild west" analogy to look at SEO's past as well as future. Pretty good read, thanks Jim!
After the pioneers came the cowboy settlers. I think I was lucky enough to be in the first or second wave of cowboy settlers about six years ago. We staked out some great real estate before the space got too crowded and the search engines erected barbed wire across the open range. Even with the limitations of a barbed wired range, smart businesses survived and grew rapidly. This was around the time AltaVista, Lycos and Yahoo tried to re-invent themselves as infotainment portals and lost a lot of users fast. Infoseek, which many regard as the Google of its time, was purchased by Disney, turned into an other infotainment portal and quietly put to rest, much like Ol Yeller. Excite looked like it was going to become the dominant player in the industry stemming from their association with the failed @Home cable-isp. Search engines changed a lot during this period but the common denominator was always the organic listings and the absolute ease of manipulating those listings. Getting a Top10 placement as easy as opening a doorway page or networking a series of mini-doorway sites. When the search engines found a way to prevent one technique from working, the cowboys would ride forth and find another. It took about three years for the cowboy settlers to articulate SEO standards and “ethical” practices. Well known SEOs such as Bruce Clay and Doug Heil became volunteer ethics coaches in the industry, the former publishing a well adopted code of ethics, the latter creating the Best Practices SEO Forums. SEO related news sites and forums such as WebMasterWorld and WebProNews became populated with thousands of members, and the number of SEO practitioners began to grow quickly. News of the glorious riches of the wild we(b)st spread rapidly and the mainstream became very interested, bringing and end to the cowboys and settlers phase about two years ago and the beginning of the urban merchant phase.
and a few paragraphs further on:
The point is, the we(b)st has been settled, the urbanites are covering the open ground with streets, shops, boutiques and RULES. The bankers, lawyers, and politicians have arrived and set up shop. The missionaries have been replaced by church hierarchy. A unique aspect life in the wild we(b)st is the rapidity of its evolution. It has taken one third of the time to reach this point in the society of cyberspace than it did to settle the American frontier in the late 1800's. We live in a predicable society, even if it only exists in cyberspace. History happens and will happen again and again and again and again, ad infinitum