I’m going to give you my own take on each of the three theories;
The Slow Meltdown
While it is true that many companies are taking SEO in-house, most SMBs just don’t have the resources to do the same. SEO is a very labour-intensive excercise and smaller enterprises will have to get outside help.
Additionally, even though many larger organisations are moving to in-house SEOs, more and more full service marketing agencies are including SEO in their service offering. Larger businesses are taking advantage of this and are likely to continue doing so for a while yet.
The Sudden Extinction
Ian makes the good point that plenty of industries have survived economic downturn, so why not SEO? In fact, my view is that SEO (or rather, on line marketing) could well be the marketing method of choice in a depression thanks to the ease of measuring performance against other forms of marketing. Not to mention the much better returns that can be gained from the internet.
A Tough Adolescence
I have to agree with Ian on this one, I think he’s got it pretty spot on. On line marketing in general is still very young. SEO is just a small part of that and will eventually be sidelined in favour of a more rounded approach to internet marketing. Businesses are getting wiser to the cowboys and marketing consultants are beginning to embrace and understand the power of the internet.
I believe only the best SEO consultants will remain in a few years, and even they will have to smarten up their approach a little. They’ll become one part of the on line marketing machine, instead of being at the forefront of an entire sub-industry.
I’m excited. I’ve seen the industry evolve so much over the last few years and it’s only going to get better. My vision of the ethical web is coming closer.