Rumors always fly about Google, particularly when it comes to search. Next to Apple, Google is the beneficiary and/or victim of rumors on a regular basis. Some of them are started by others, but occasionally they're started (and confirmed) by Google itself. Such was the case last year when they hinted about the first variation of Penguin and it was the case this year with the latest update, dubbed Penguin 2.0.
Now it's here and their was a nice writeup about it on Driving Sales by Aaron Schinke of DealerFire. The advice he gives is sound and falls in line with what we've seen from this update.
The update has proven to be a very positive one for those who are doing SEO the right way. I spent an hour doing spot checks on dozens of our clients last night and found that they either kept their strong positions or moved up if they weren't #1 already (which usually means that their competitors actually moved down as a result of the update, but the net result is the same).
The point is this - SEO is still extremely valid despite the drum beat that comes every two or three months that "SEO is dead". You can search for that phrase in Google and see that new people have been putting up stories with variations of that headline since 2008. They'll keep doing it until 2018. It has been considered and always will be considered to be the case every time Google and Bing get smarter with their ranking algorithms.
Don't believe them. Ever. I promise this - if SEO really does ever die, I'll be the first to admit it. Oddly enough, I know of a sentiment engine in development that would effectively kill current SEO, but it requires quantum computing and the ability to practically read our minds to become truly effective, so we're still at least a few years away from that.
The days of effective cheap SEO are behind us. You can have a search presence for cheap but nobody can be dominant. This isn't an attempt to insult some competitors. It's an analysis of what Google has been doing for the last couple of years. They are pushing away from automation-based search optimization. They are rewarding high-quality, manual effort that brings value.
It simply can't be done on the cheap, anymore. SEO is valid and getting more valid every day. Those who deny it are simply unwilling or incapable of putting in the effort to make it happen.