Very good thread Folks.
Previously when we talked to SEO clients we told them they needed:
A) Clear Site Structure (they rarely had this)
B) Great Content (often too costly for offline companies to produce)
C) Relevant Links (India-type links a waste of time; relevant links take us 2+ hours each to obtain = very expensive)
From now on, I'm thinking that in addition to the above, the things to watch out for are:
D) Strong social signals
E) Branded links from relevant content
F) Focus on brand rather than exact anchor text
G) Ad layout that works for users rather than the business
(BTW: If anyone knows of a good graphic to illustrate the above, please share it!)
The SEO Opportunity
Knowledge about & the ability to inform clients of the issues in this thread (with full disclosure of the many things we don't know) is going to keep the top SEOs earning their crust with smart clients.
IMHO lower quality / part-time SEOs just aren't going to be able to compete from now on because they won't have enough experience / confidence to tell clients what the SEO doesn't know. They'll also still be hoping that $300/mth outsourced link building will keep working.
The New Google World Order
I propose we call this thing something because it actually is a New World Order in SEO terms considering that what we're seeing is an SEO Industry Apocalypse (& out of crisis comes opportunity!)
"Maya" is my suggestion for a couple of reasons:
> 2012 is the year these folks thought the world would end. SEO as we've all known it for 16+ years is dead.
> Mayans were called "The Greeks of The New World" because of their sophistication with maths & technology. A 21st century AI version of that is what we're dealing with now.