I’m convinced. The only place an “SEO is dead” headline seems appropriate is on a SnapChat video. Gone in 10 seconds. It is simply a matter of semantics. If your definition claims SEO exists for the purpose of delivering the best possible searches to queries, the SEO lifespan will go step for step with mankind. If your definition embraces the notion that SEO exists to exploit the algorithms to achieve a high, although often undeserved, search rank, then put on your black suit. You could be attending services. That sinister relative of SEO may not be gasping for its last breath, but it is unhealthy and lurking behind walls and in corners, doing what it can to survive.

Reading Jayson DeMers’ piece in Forbes and Erik Sherman’s piece in Inc., accompanied by a host of recent opinions, I felt they both weighed in with nearly total agreement with me. My previous interview with Chris Bennett of 97th Floor shares that agreement. What do I think and why does that matter?

SEO is simply learning how to be better at what it was originally intended to do. Those that have entered the field in order to game the system will find their intent thwarted with increasingly sophisticated barricades as well as customer slams.

There’s lots of talk about white hats, black hats, and even grey hats. DeMers notes that black hats are extremely rare. They are the viruses, unaffected by any prescriptions, that will always find a way to gain by tapping into the DNA of others. Then there are white hats, working primarily to play, mostly, by the rules. Those that perform some sort of hybrid of the two are the grey hats. About them …

Let’s face it, we all have to prime the search engine from time to time, even when we have a deserving product or service. There’s where it gets dicey. Some would call that a grey hat. Finding the right algorithm antibiotic to rid parts of the system infected with drug resistant strains of bacteria is tricky. Making sure that the white hats, for the most part, can prime the search engines to get the traffic they deserve without significantly manipulating the algorithm to gain notoriety is not an easy task. Things are improving, however.

Eric Sherman is right, the gimmicky SEO is not what any responsible corporation aims for today. I believe that most companies seek a true SEO that helps their customers authentically find what they need. Naïve? Some may say yes. Rainbows and unicorns? Not really. It is just a step in the right direction for those companies aiming to grow and profit by providing solid, useful products and services to customers that want them. Refreshing? I think so.

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