Moments after the release of Siri, the predictable "SEO is dead" articles began appearing everywhere. As someone who started in SEO, I pretty much always relegated these article topics to authors in need of blog reads. The SEO is dead prediction is probably only slightly older then SEO itself.
That being said, the nature of SEO changes every day; and behind this idea of a front-end filter masked as a personal assistant, the change may be radical enough to redefine SEO entirely.
We had some internal dialogue in our office about whether Siri changes anything at all when it comes to optimizing a client for search. As of right now Siri, can barely be considered AI (Artificial Intelligence). I think a more appropriate definition would be a voice translation system that acts as a front layer on already existing search methodology. When I want to find a restaurant using Siri, the system still uses traditional online search to give me options. Granted, there are some cool surprise responses that have made for a lot of hilarious conversations between the user and the interface ... http://siriquestions.com/Funny_Siri_c1
However, when it comes to optimizing for a client, who is trying to have customers find them, this has little relevance
I think search really starts to look like something new when the AI becomes more intuitive. For instance, I asked Siri today to find a restaurant in my area. I can then ask Siri to rate the restaurants, and show me directions ... all hands free. This is cool but limited.
What happens, however, when I ask to find a restaurant in the area that my good friend Stephanie (@stephaniebogus) likes? What if I could ask Siri to choose a restaurant that matches my taste profile based on past experience? I can see other potential as well. What if my friend could tag a restaurant she thinks I would like, and then Siri alerts me and adds it to a list of new restaurants for me to try?
The idea is that search is becoming more semantic, as well as more Social. Google is obviously aware of this and is creating its own personal assistant for the Android. I believe we have moved away from the Bruce Clay, back-linking SEO that we held sacred for quite a while. Local has changed the game, and review aggregators like YELP! have become prime real estate.
The future seems to hold a search that is anti-search, a search that comes to you. As my true AI personal assistant learns me better, the searches will become more relevant to me. So how do you help your clients show up in this new world of personal search? Is personal search even SEO, or is it something new and different? Is the future of search a series of predictions, based on a myriad of personality traits, held by the searcher? SEO isn't dead, but it may soon be unrecognizable to us SEO die-hards.