Re-Defining SEO: The Impending Tech Flood and How To Survive It
As the tech industry faces a great change, I, a 53-year-old (tomorrow) tech veteran, share my experience and knowledge on how to survive the impending tech flood. Learn the fundamentals that have not changed for decades, and employ the 80/20-rule to stay ahead of the game. Join me on my journey to re-define SEO and make the most of the opportunities the tech industry brings.
Surviving the Impending Tech Flood: My Journey to Re-Defining SEO
By Michael Levin
Saturday, August 26, 2023
You need to use that “keeping tension in the machinery” concept that decades ago you discussed with your mentor, Gerard Bucas, when he took over Scala. I was really firing on all cylinders back then before anyone was doing the web sales funnel thing. I totally nailed it, then walked away from it to come to New York City and join a public relations company as a vice president. There was a lot of sour grapes, because fixing the culture of an organization doesn’t exactly make you beloved to the guardians of the status quo of yesteryear. And that’s where I went wrong with Scala.
I had a sweet deal for a percentage of company gross revenues based on how well I did driving sales, and I walked away from it because the process poisoned the waters and I prefer feeling good about myself over financial gain. And thus started a pattern where doing what I want undermined paths to more societally accepted concepts of success. I am successful internally and not so much externally. And that’s fine. And I’m happy with that.
But the time has come to share the benefits of that internal happiness. I’ll be 53 years old tomorrow. I was around 26 or 27 when Gerard took over Scala. That feels like the last time I was really myself following an optimized path. Not that it was a straight line even getting to that point, having dodged quite a few life-bullets to get to that point. I guess it helped me have more of a risk-taking attitude. Maybe not risk-taking so much as devil-may-care. So I went off to NYC hoping to focus on that internal happiness more than the financial stuff, with more opportunity all around me as NYC tends to offer.
And so I did. And so I did. And many paths that looked like may have led to that more financial success route didn’t. They didn’t because I dislike managing people and I dislike business in general — or rather should I say that disingenuous process of getting people to buy stuff as the highest level of attainment. Capitalism as a religion disgusts me. It’s 24x7 cringe to elevate the petty to the level of all-important. And so I turned inward. I developed those internal skills that made me happy, with a keen eye towards those that would not go obsolete on me and let me down yet again, like every single text editor I committed to memory so far, and entire platforms like the Amiga computer hardware or Microsoft Active Server Pages for web development.
These were the professional wounds I was nurturing when I started the hunt for tools that resulted in me discovering Linux, Python, vim and git. So I moved to New York after the Scala heartbreak in my early 30s and figured out the new tool-stack by my early 40s. Now I am in my early 50s and have distilled that tool-stack into something that auto-installs onto the most popular desktop platform in the world: Windows. It doesn’t matter if it’s Windows 10 or 11 because the importance of delivering a fully capable Linux to the masses is not lost on Microsoft either, so they put it on both. My script auto-installs a wonderful Linux, Python, vim & git working environment on either platform that turns into a sort of Noah’s Ark for your skills, preparing for the flood.
So unless you want to be writing something like this again in your early sixties explaining why you’re full of potential but haven’t cut that catapult ropes yet, then you had better get to pulling those catapult ropes!
In a time of great change such as we are facing, little before has been like this but maybe the Gutenberg press, Internet and to a lesser degree, Mobile computing, the first and most important priority is to monitor for good information. It’s situational awareness. It’s an objective view on things that few others have the capability of achieving.
Press the buttons of SEOs all over the world. What nags at you?
Are you not in control of your own tools, and thus not even your own abilities? Do your SEO skills only derive only from what some vendor makes available to you through features they support? And you have to keep paying X-dollars a month to maintain those skills? And sometimes that’s in the hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month?
Are you afraid of going obsolete by the entire industry changing underneath you, for the first significant time since 1994 with WebCrawler’s debut. No, not Google. WebCrawler! I remember it like it was yesterday. A few years later Google came along improving relevancy and that was the breakout moment. But that was just an incremental improvement. WebCrawler and then AltaVista after them really did the cool original innovation. It’s just like how chatbots have been around for a long time before ChatGPT came onto the scene and got the little nuances correct in just such a way as to wake everyone up.
History repeats itself. But this time with Microsoft determined to not be stung twice, they sank millions into OpenAI and hooked as much of that chatty goodness into all those API-hooks they had floating around from the old days of Clippy. No, Microsoft is not new no the game. They tried it before on their own and had all the methodology as part of their products and collective experience already and were just waiting for something smarter than Clippy to drop-in. I rarely hear people talk about just on top of the search wars Microsoft really is, with their control of the desktop and uninterruptible diversified revenue streams to pay for it all. The battle of attrition favors Microsoft.
Google is a castle built on clouds, and it’s raining. Something like 80% of its revenue stream comes from Google AdWords — advertising when you plug keywords in to search. And fewer and fewer people really want to work that unnatural work-intensive way anymore when everything you click on is riddled with advertising that was the whole reason for that content to exist in the first place. It’s all very annoying and disingenuous. Less polished publishers who publish out of passion don’t stand a chance. You have to be both world-class and financially incentivized to get into the search results anymore. The “long-tail” is basically dead with all off-the-beaten-track searches being funneled into pages from the made men of the net.
You can feel it with almost every search-and-click. So, why click? Why not just hit that “Chat” button on Bing or “Converse” button on Google and just hear what a near-superintelligence has to say on the topic? If it’s from Bing, it will intermix all its sources right in the response and markdown code you can copy that includes a little footnote bibliography of its sources. Nobody talks about how sophisticated and useful this is from Bing, and it’s been that way for months as part their main default search experience.
Google on the other hand only barely is offering their “Labs” SGE (search generative experience) from default search. And even if you opt-in to this future-search experience, it rarely is actually activated on a search, and when it is its completely inconsistent. Sometimes it will superimpose the SGE results at the top of the search page the way old features like Universal Search got combed into the page, and at other times it merely offers a “Converse” button, which only sometimes actually does anything conversational when you click it. In Google’s defense, Bing isn’t 100% consistent either in what activates its conversational results, but it’s way more so than Google.
And we all know it’s going to change the world, and the little niche of the practice of searching all the more so. We are standing dryside of an overflowing dyke, waiting for the dam to burst while the Little Dutch Boy plugs his fingers in holes hoping we don’t notice. A flood is coming. We can all feel it. We all know it. Disruption is coming your way.
How does one prepare? Well, by building an Ark of course. And that’s MyKoz.AI. We start with situational awareness. If you don’t have it, forget it. You won’t know what to do when, why and how. Knowing what’s really going on and what’s really important is what’s important. And how do you do that?
So learn a little bit of Linux. Learn a lot of Python. But employ the 80/20-rule, which is also known as the Pareto Principle. Specifically, don’t sink all your time and commitment to developing muscle memory into the wrong things for the wrong reasons. No, instead focus on the fundamental bits that haven’t changed for decades past and are unlikely to change in decades hence, even in light of the rise of AI. No, they’re not taking your job unless you let them. Just adapt in ways that make you survive the flood — and hopefully love the process to boot.