Answered by Dan Lawrence, SEO and e-commerce specialist
I think as the web has evolved/is evolving from what is/was essentially an electronic version of a traditional library of documents all linked together, into a network of much more sophisticated content (not just documents) and is increasingly becoming a network of inter-related entities, we are all essentially building nodes in a big brain.
As a result I think SEO is heading towards building parts of that brain, or at least helping this brain understand the content we want to surface, beyond a document and instead as a 'thing' or an 'object', so with that in mind I think aspects of SEO like structured data, micro-data, schema etc all help in this evolution. The more structured and modular you can make your output the better SEO'd it will be. So long as it serves the user well of course too, then the brain will be happy.
Google is looking more at user behaviour to further help determine content/website quality, as one would expect, and this is only going to increase. However its being quite widely discussed amongst the seo community that, at the moment at least, this is likely to help differentiate between the sites that are already ranking well, to help determine which is actually the better site according to user behaviour, and that sites that are not yet in that top tier should still focus on the traditional fundamentals of content and links.
Always ignore the death knells of SEO, which usually come around every year or so when something big happens or theres a major change to the status quo that some industry commentators can't get their heads round. I've literally heard someone somewhere say 'SEO is dead' every single year since 2005 or so, and they have always been wrong.
There is a very easy way to find out if/when SEO is dead/will die, it will simply be when non-organic/natural listings no longer exist. So long as its possible to achieve rankings without paying for it, there will be a way to positively influence your position within that and that is SEO.
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