When Bob Dylan penned the infamous lyric, “The times they are a changing’” he had no idea how the evolution and speed of the internet would fulfill his prophecy. In the world of Internet search, the times have indeed changed – at lightning speed– and show little sign of slowing down. So for marketing experts who have pitched their flag firmly in the SEO soil, there has been a flurry of activity to figure out exactly where this train is heading.

IS SEO DEAD?

The answer may depend on whom you ask. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) pioneer Jill Whalen has hung up her hat. In her praise of the recent Panda and Penguin updates by Google, she says that Google finally works the way it’s supposed to – it delivers the content for which searchers are hunting. There’s no need for manipulating search engines anymore. No need for keyword stuffing, back-link building, or any of the Black Hat SEO tricks and tips that have been a part of the game in the past. This is the new age.

SEO is dead if manipulation is your strategy. Sometimes we forget what the acronym stands for; Search Engine Optimization is still viable, but it is in no way about manipulation anymore. It’s about producing the kind of rich content that searchers find valuable. In today’s day and age you’re going to need the right strategy, and you’re going to need to execute it fluidly.

SEO has become just one tree in the new search landscape. Case in point: analytics giant MOZ has recently dropped the SEO tagline from their name (formerly SEOmoz). Wisely, they are diversifying and taking some of their eggs out of the SEO basket. Are you? Are you investing in Pay Per Click? Are you blogging? Are you engaging prospects through Social Media? Are you producing a high quality, informational video to tell your story? Considered how to retarget the folks that have visited your site but haven’t yet converted? The landscape has become a technical jungle, and you can’t miss it for the trees. There are several viable strategies in this brave new world, but none of them work in silos. One discipline feeds the other. Search giants have been candid about the favorable results Social Media brings to the organic search table, and still so many SEO champions are slow to embrace it. This is the age of pinpoint marketing – where every visitor to your site becomes a potential lead. Socrates may have issued the decree to “know thyself,” but the modern marketing mantra has been “know thy customer” for some time. And thy customer wants to know who you are, what you do, and why they should choose you over the myriad of competitors in your neighborhood. And they want to know NOW.

Employing the right strategy is the key. Comprehensive strategies that utilize every available tool on the Internet to compliment the overall efforts will undoubtedly yield the best result, but this could take a small army… or possibly the right relationship with one of the few Internet marketing teams that understand the times, and offer partnership over ã la carte products. Welcome to the new age of strategic Internet marketing.