My passionate practice of SEO since 1997 reveals its essence:

  1. SEO done right is more asset than ad spend: It endures.
  2. Technical SEO (server and code foundations) take the first ~third of work on which the rest depends. LLMs like ChatGPT won’t be able to handle this for several more years.
  3. The rest is SAW: SEO Architecture & Writing, which has changed radically since 2021. LLMs greatly expedite this work.
  4. A lot of SEO can wait until later if ever. Prioritizing demands and rewards long professional experience.
  5. Most clients can and should learn parts of SEO maintenance. DISC sets this up for you.
  6. Predators and charlatans continue to plague the SEO field. DISC is both of those . . . just kidding!
  7. Integrating SEO with other marketing maximizes ROI. The 2023+ SAW rules amped this truism.
  8. SEO firms with integrity will set you up with AI/LLMs that do the non-technical, language parts without requiring SEO pros.


  1. Asset, not ad spend:

    Like a new factory or machine, SEO delivers value way beyond year one. After the first year push, returns steadily improve relative to costs. Deploying AI/LLMs (like OpenAI’s GPTs) during that first year will develop SEO content at substantially lower costs in perpetuity. For more, see our July 2024 blog post, Now Core SEO Can Long Endure.

  2. Technical SEO is foundational.

    In a 2012 article I made my only substantial wrong prediction: that within 10 years, software like Google Search Console will prioritize and repair most SEO technical problems. Alas, accelerating complexity of search engines, servers, and code outpaced the tools, and tool makers shunned the liabilities. Until AGI (artificial general intelligence) arrives and is allowed to act via AI “agents,” SEO tech will continue to require SEO pros.

  3. By 2023, AI radically altered best practices in SEO Architecture & Writing (SAW).

    AI makes search engines work like collective human brains that think about things and not merely strings of text. Google’s Entity model of search understands topics as composites of all kinds of media and human actions. Honing website navigation, conversion funnels, and per-page content to what matters to your market will cover Entities (which are like topics) and thus replaces most of SEO’s laborious keywording. Imagine that all the people in your target markets are one mind, remembering everything related to your brand: keywords are now a small part of what drives that collective brain. The advice of a great adman from any age will produce a compelling flow of intent though your site and to your bottom line.

  4. Much SEO can wait.

    Like a chessmaster whose quick look discovers great moves, an SEO pro’s years of pattern recognition prioritize your needs.

  5. Firms’ marketing teams should learn monthly SEO monitoring.

    This saves costs and builds your intellectual capital. Good SEO firms help you not need them for routine SEO.

  6. Predators and charlatans typically advertise much more than the true pro firms.

    Most businesses have gotten poor SEO work because, unlike law or medicine, there’s no equivalent of the ABA or AMA to ensure credentials. Too many SEO articles play to readers’ wish that SEO is like changing your car’s oil: read the manual, focus for a while, and you’re good. Well, the manual is about 3000 largely technical pages, and you’ve got to practice it all a few times first. SEO expertise really matters.

  7. Integrating SEO with other marketing maximizes ROI.

    SEO is almost always worth doing, but how far down the priority list you go depends on your budget, the ROI of other marketing channels, and your in-house skills. Maybe usability enhancements or PPC or CRO testing or some non-web marketing would be more cost-effective than priority 3 SEO tactics. “Wisdom in Web Marketing” means humility and data-responsive flexibility in prioritizing marketing options. DISC’s decades experience in marketing, our focus on past and future ROI, and CEO Rob Laporte’s pre-web marketing background, synergize your marketing mix.

  8. Truth: After SEO pros set your SEO tech and architecture, and make your SEO GPT, your team alone can execute excellent, ongoing SEO content.

    LLMs are brilliant, but like a brilliant new employee, they still need training to learn your business and to adopt key advancements in the field of expertise. SEO firms with integrity will give you that trained LLM employee. Just as a great psychologist does not need to know the quantum mechanics of brain molecules, so too can a professional (in any field) train LLMs to work for you–without vacations and sick days, and for $20/month.

    Is “Generative Engine Optimization” (GEO) mostly marketing spin? Probably. For more, see the last section of our post, Now Core SEO Can Long Endure.

In short: