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.