It really got kicked off last November 2008 when the guy who coined the term SEO, Bruce Clay, said that search engine rankings were dead. Shortly after, Google engineer Matt Cutts, said that while they were not dead they are not as important as they were. Matt went on to talk about how people needed to quit focusing so much on SEO and start looking at things like conversion.
Hmm where have we heard that before. Oh, I had written on that very thing only a couple weeks before Matt’s made his comments.
This of course was the last thing that the SEO conferences wanted to hear.
I had written for a while about why we no longer attend SEO conferences and why we do attend performance marketing conferences. But to hear someone like Matt Cutts make the point was the nail in the coffin. I do not have access to Search Engine Strategies numbers but by looking at who was attending, feedback from both operators, and tweets from attendees talking about how dead the conferences were I am guessing 2009 was their worst year ever.
Also its no coincidence that companies like Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google have shifted their ad spend much more to the performance marketing space. They put money where there is value… and the SEO fad has come and gone.
In 2009 you saw a lot of SEO’s switch to being Social Media Experts or Reputation Management experts.
In late 2009 Robert Scoble (who is a complete retard) wrote about why social media is better then SEO. Thousands of SEO’s came out of the woodwork to take the bait. Proving a complete retard like Scoble is smarter then most of the SEO industry. The funniest part is when the SEO’s would refuse to link to Scoble… they just don’t get it…
Obviously though one of the main reasons we saw so many SEO’s out of work in 2009 was due to the recession. In a recession companies can’t justify unquantifiable expenses… so SEO’s were the first to get the axe.
There is probably about 5 SEO’s that I would take advice from. Aaron Wall at the top of the list. You really need to read this post to understand.