New Report Validates the Value of Advanced SEO Skills

Search engine optimization has been the most dynamic and fruitful source of leads and sales for almost 20 years.  Look at your Google Analytics dashboard and you can see how much of your traffic is generated via the free, organic search results.

And there’s no denying that consumers and B2B buyers go online to search for answers and solutions.  That will never cease even if artificial intelligence software hijacks the customer search process as it’s doing.

Skilled SEOs Vs Google

Google is squeezing the organic search engine results hard in its monetization ambition. This means SEO experts will need new hard and soft skills to stay in control of SEO performance.

Google is funneling more organic traffic to fewer websites and creating more crises for website owners.  In response, many companies have been discounting the future value of search engine optimization. SEO efforts have been under attack for some time now, given marketeers and spammers have been trying to over-leverage it.  This has ruined its good name, denigrating advanced SEO, and made disappointments more evident.

SEO experts need to spend more time justifying the value of SEO to the market going forward. And by doing this, we can improve our already solid contribution in the decade ahead.

Microsoft/Linkedin Study

Your Content is Your Conversion Funnel

A new report by Microsoft counters the notion that SEO is fading. The report called 2020 Vision: Trends to Define the Next Decade, highlights SEO skills as most important for digital marketers.

The report explores the trends that Microsoft Advertising believes will have the greatest impact for organizations, customers, employees, clients, and partners in 2020 and beyond. Microsoft utilized Linkedin to conduct the study.

Microsoft begins the report by citing the democratization of media and the non-linear customer path to purchase. User generated content, online reviews and star ratings are noted. However, we do know there is a crackdown on fake content on the web and social media. If the private social trust movement continues, it will re-emphasize the power of genuine, authoritative content for SEO. The use of SEO software won’t change that.

The report says a rising resistance to tracking and use of ad blocking software will have big effects on enterprise targeting, marketing reach and predictive analytics. Big business and ad programs such as Google Ads could be hit hard by these developments.

Screenshot courtesy of

The report speaks of the “Customer Experience Quotient” as a new measure of understanding the quality of the customer journey. AI powered algorithms will become the default and AI software will become the big winner.

Top Marketing Skills for the Future

The study ranked these hard and soft skills as most vital:

Hard skills:

    1. SEO (traffic generation, leads, and brand visibility)
    2. Data analysis (performance and predictive analytics)
    3. Copywriting (persuasive content, SEO)
    4. Behavioral analysis (customer experience)
    5. Automation (doing more with less)

Soft skills:

    1. Creativity (new themes, strategies, and more engaging content)
    2. Humility (realistic and less hype)
    3. Empathy (understanding the customer)
    4. Adaptability (using whatever skills and channels needed)
    5. Transparency (trust and visibility)

Respondents believed SEO is the most important hard skill to build for the next decade.

SEO is actually more of a soft skills however, so what do what do they mean they call it a hard skill? Hard skills would relate to the use of AI SEO platforms, or even regular SEO software to organize content for search engines. In the enterprise space, executives may not believe SEOs have anything to do with soft skills such as customer engagement or lead conversion. They’re treated as coders.

They may be relating too heavily on the power of AI to humanize content. In the end, SEO is about using words in a human way especially as Google uses natural language processing.

Is AI Software Really Going to Grow?

What About AI Generated Spam?

The study fails to look at how search engines will respond to AI automated content generation. Spam is moving to a whole new level.  How will search engines filter out well written automated spam? Will they even try? Who will ensure the copywriting and content and linking passes through Google’s filters?

Hard technical and strategic skills are definitely important, but I would argue that soft skills including creativity will have more success with Google’s algorithms in the future as it fights AI spam.

It won’t be long before the term AI Spam enters our SEO vocabularies. AI spam is a strategic and obviously intelligent persistence in manipulating Google’s ranking algorithm. Google will not like that.  When the AI SEO software is perfected, it will wreak havoc on Google and Bing presenting them with their biggest crisis ever.


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