'What do you think? Should I focus on SEO?' A friend and colleague asked me this question recently, interested in breaking out of their current web publishing role and exploring some new, exciting options in the industry to keep interested. I replied with my usual garble about SEO - that it's not something to focus on - IMO good SEO starts and ends with good code and good content. So instead I got all anthropological.
As humans we're inherently 2 things: mobile and social. We like to move and we like to be gregarious.
So my answer was pretty simple - both are the way forward in web. With smartphone sales set to eclipse PC sales by 2011, we're going mobile as a society whether we like it or not.
As for the social aspect... well, regardless of the surge in social media 'gurus' sweeping the web, all that was ever needed to get humans talking on teh interwebs was the technology to facilitate conversations and interaction. As a species we're born to be
wild social, and the professionals plying their trade in the social media space aren't professional socialites per se, they're just professionals at understanding the many vehicles and technologies - current and future - out there that enable us to be social. The current arena for social media might be our desktop/laptop and a browser, but ask any social media strategist you know about the importance of the mobile web, and I hope they stress just how important it's going to be: very.
As mobile technology gets more sophisticated, as GPS improves, and as mobile apps and augmented reality continue to multiply and grow respectively, our mobile media use will become second-nature. Handsets will become more powerful. Our social media use is already becoming ubiquitous. We as an industry will continue to combine the two in new and innovative ways, enabling users as a collective to be more productive, more connected, and more interactive than ever before (disclaimer: one's rate of adoption and privacy concerns notwithstanding). Web Version 3.0 isn't about the semantic web anymore, it's about the socimobi web with semantics and microformats already built-in for good measure.
My advice to my colleague in the end? If nothing else, keep an eye on the mobile horizon, and be social. Take some refresher classes or training in the basics, sure, but no matter what just get into it. Go social, and have fun - try a favourite social network on a data-enabled phone, and get stuck-in. Learn what value an app gives a user, visit favourite sites through a mobile browser, or try out Google Latitude. It'll be more interesting and engaging than SEO, that's for sure.