Mike correctly assesses that “textbook SEO” is not rocket science. The basics of building sites today that meet the mechanical requirements of search engines does not require a Ph.D.. This does not mean that it’s easy for the uninitiated, or that it’s simple to learn, but it can’t be confused with rocket engine design.
However, this is not what an SEO’s customers want. What they want is high search engine rankings and lots of traffic. Accomplishing this is more about “marketing” than textbook SEO. At the moment, marketing involves a lot of link building, but this is also changing.
People who want to build traffic to their web sites need web marketing experts, not textbook SEOs. This will be one of the big things that the market will come to understand in a broad sense in 2007. It will be about strategic partnerships and knowing how to leverage Social Media. And, it should be a lot of fun.
Partly because the wild west feel to the web will still be very much in play. It’s just that the frontier is moving.