To many, it is the immortal of the web but has SEO finally met its match? Has the mix of human interaction, social networking and technological advances on all fronts finally caught up? Or am I just another wishful thinker?

Over the years I have spent a great amount of time working through the wonders of Search Engine Optimisation. Anyone that has ever delved into this subject before will understand the dilemma that this moving feast brings to any developer.

Throughout this process I have battled between the marketer in me and the developer.

As a marketer, I can see the value in ensuring a level of optimisation exists, but also see that there are many other vehicles (many, much more cost effective) that can drive traffic to a website.

However, the developer in me persists in arguing the point that there needs to be a level of optimisation within a site.

My question now though is, have the goal posts changed?

I had an interesting discussion with a group of high level business people this week which prompted me to re-think where the whole phenomenon of the web was going. Someone raised the concept of how the market was changing in relation to newspapers being more and more online based and how opinions and recommendations were not just sought from professional journalism any longer but from a myriad of sources. They then added that this had lead to the demise of many journalists and thus sourcing quality information was in fact becoming harder now that ‘ everyone‘ was an expert.

Now that of course is an interesting topic all on its own but the relevance to SEO comes in the form of the shift in the way people source and share information.

In the past, forums have been a void for the nerdy and geekish. Nobody really understood what they did or how they worked. Twitter and Facebook have changed all that. These user friendly, and most importantly socially accepted sites, have allowed a new connection, not only to our friends but to information.

Regularly people will post questions about how to fix something or where to stay or how to best go about something.

So instead of typing into Google “Bali Accommodation”, they simple post “Does anyone know of a good place to stay in Bali? Needs to be kid friendly and close to Kuta”

Within minutes responses are posted and those personal recommendations are used to make purchasing decisions.

So here’s where SEO is key.

If you receive a recommendation of a name, then you’ll Google that. Having your site optimised so that your name and location give you high yielding results is becoming more paramount.

Given the momentum that has seen Google become and maintain its status as the most popular search engine on the web, it isn’t far fetched to think that these trends are leading their thinking. With a constant mission to deliver the most relevant data to you as the end user, the ideal of a site with good, honest, quality content is becoming more and more popular.

Base SEO treatments are now looking to become more and more important. Soon the optimisation techniques that have been used in the past and are still being used today are likely to fade into obscurity.

Personally, I think it’s a powerful move forward. Clever marketing and a potent message coupled with a quality website and superb communication is where we should be looking to position ourselves on the web. For the same reason we have advertising regulations for virtually every other medium, we should be looking to create the web as an environment where search engine results are derived from authentic content with validity.

It will be a long and painful death for SEO but it is coming. The days of SEO as we know it are over…