My passionate practice of SEO since 1997 reveals its essence:

  1. SEO is more asset than ad spend; done right, most of it lasts for years.
  2. Technical SEO (server and code foundations) take the first ~⅓ of work on which the rest depends.
  3. The rest is SAW: SEO Architecture & Writing, which has changed radically since 2021.
  4. Much SEO can wait until later if ever–prioritizing well comes from long experience.
  5. Most client teams can and should learn parts of SEO.
  6. Predators and charlatans abound in SEO (still).
  7. Integrating SEO with other marketing maximizes your ROI.
  8. AI/LLMs, like ChatGPT, radically change SAW procedures and costs.

More Detail:

  1. SEO is more asset than ad spend.

    Like a new factory or machine, SEO delivers value way beyond year one. After the first year push, returns improve relative to costs. In 2025-6, deploying AI/LLMs, like OpenAI’s GPTs, will maintain SEO at substantially lower costs.

  2. Technical SEO is here to stay.

    My one significant wrong prediction, in 2012, was that within 10 years, software, perhaps Google Search Console (GSC) would prioritize and repair most SEO technical problems. Search engine, server, and site complexity outstripped GSC as well as website providers like Shopify and Wix. Until AGI arrives, pro SEO technical work will remain crucial.

  3. In ~2023+, SEO Architecture & Writing (SAW) required deep retooling.

    AI makes search engines work like collective human brains thinking “things, not strings” of text. This vast change resists summary; an upcoming page will explain. Of course DISC clients are fully apprised.

  4. Much SEO can wait. More business revenue justifies more SEO now.

    Like a chessmaster whose quick look discovers good moves, an SEO pro’s years of pattern recognition enable prioritizing well.

  5. Firms’ marketing teams should learn routine SEO and reporting.

    This saves costs and builds intellectual capital in-house. Good SEO firms help with this.

  6. Predators and charlatans abound in SEO (Still).

    Most businesses have gotten poor SEO work because unlike law or medicine, there’s no equivalent of the ABA or AMA. Anyone can profess expertise. Too many SEO article writers play to readers’ deep 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.

  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 (of 5) SEO tactics. “Wisdom in Web Marketing” means humility and data-responsive flexibility in prioritizing among all marketing options. DISC’s long history in most web marketing areas, our focus on ROI projections, and my pre-web marketing background, synergize your marketing mix.