SEO and Personal Brand is not dead. If you innovate.

Two very close friends of mine have made blanket statements stating that SEO is Dead and that, in essence, so is personal brand.

Though I understand the sentiment expressed in both posts, it is still misinformation and very debunk-able. Micah Baldwin, who thinks SEO is dead, also happens to be my boss at Lijit. Geoff Livingston, happens to be my roommate. So I tread lightly in both cases.

Let’s go back to prohibition where, unlike today, companies were not simply told to adjust how they do things or risk a failure – they were told that they could not do their business.

Big beer companies like Yuengling and Anheuser-Busch were faced with traumatic decisions that demanded them to adjust to a changed landscape. Much like the SEO business and Personal Brand in a down economy, people can either fail or adapt.

In the case of Yuengling, they brewed near-beers (beers under the minimum alcohol by volume (ABV) levels that would be considered non-alcoholic beer today) and provided ingredients and instructions for mail-order home brews. When prohibition was repealed by the 24th Amendment, these companies who adapted were positioned best to move in and dominate the landscape.

While personal brand can certainly be a bugaboo and is certainly not something that anyone should assume will be an easy coat-tail ride, personal brand does not guarantee anything.

However, the reputation that someone with personal brand can leverage is extremely important. That ability to negotiate, converse, discuss and work on deals on an individual level is something that can position a person to rebound fairly quickly in a down economy.

As in any market, there are corrections. Maybe the personal branding “market” or the SEO industry as it is today is a little hyperinflated. A correction is certainly in order. However, that correction brings out the best in those areas and those who survive are positioned best at the end.

I will agree with Geoff that having intrinsic value to backup personal brand is extremely important for survival. Talkers are important though, as they are the ideas people. Eliminating talkers is a sure fire way to squelch innovation during a down economy – exactly the wrong thing to do.

Intrinsically, there is still a high premium on personal brand. Likewise, SEO is very important for marketing. In both cases, these things probably need a correction to procure a more pure form of business though. Those who adapt will survive. Those who do not and continue to try to live life as normal… Well, see ya later, alligator.

Aaron Brazell

Aaron Brazell is a Baltimore, MD-based WordPress developer, a co-founder at WP Engine, WordPress core contributor and author. He wrote the book WordPress Bible and has been publishing on the web since 2000. You can follow him on Twitter, on his personal blog and view his photography at The Aperture Filter.

4 thoughts on “SEO and Personal Brand is not dead. If you innovate.

  1. I really liked the article on doers vs. talkers. I couldn’t comment on his post about it, so I figure I should comment on it here. Anyways, here’s a snippet from a post I created last week, “Why Ideas are Worthless.”

    “As a VC Analyst, I hear a lot of pitches. A lot.

    And most people come to me with an idea–a thought–and of course, they’ve hit the honeymoon period where they think it’s the next google.

    Every single one of them is coming to me for one reason: money. I love it! It’s my job. And, I love entrepreneurs. The passion, the energy and the brain-power is mind-opening.

    However, many come for the wrong reason. The reason many want the money is so that they can test the idea. They say to themselves, “Well, it’s clearly a great idea because I think so. All I need is a programmer. And that means I need money. Let me go apply to 100 local VC’s and tell them all that my idea is the best thing ever, and that I don’t need them–I just need their money to use on a programmer.”

    Technical, or not, I tell them all the same thing, “Put up or shut up.”

    Even if it’s a poor sketch of what your product is, launch it. Just slap up a [beta] tag next to your logo as a proclamation of, “Hey, here I am. I think this could be great. It may have some kinks, but tell me what you think and we can grow from here.”

    At the end of the day, ideas are worthless.”

    http://scottdig.com/2008/11/06/why-ideas-are-worthless/

  2. I liked the June blog entry you did on Doers vs. Talkers, Aaron, and realize that I’ve been a bit prejudiced against Talkers (“Oh, he’s nothing but a talker.”) when they do have something to add to the table with visionary ideas and sometimes challenging conventional thinking.

    With whether SEO is dead and personal brand, I work for a tech-focused PR agency, and the more I know about different components of social media and traditional PR – including brand management and organic SEO – the better I am as a counselor to my clients, many of whom have limited background in these areas. I’m sure over time SEO will evolve, just like anything else. My perspective is that organic SEO is a tool in the arsenal that I can bring forth to serve clients.

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