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Search Engine Optimization has been at the core of many online marketing strategies for decades. However, in recent years, a growing number of internet marketers, entrepreneurs, and business owners are beginning to wonder, is SEO, as we know it, coming to an end?

   
Advancements in human-computer interface capabilities such as deep learning have caused Google, by far the most prominent search engine of them all, to shift focus from their previously used algorithm based models to something far more advanced. Their ‘Rank Brain’ update was the first step in this direction, and successive updates will seek to bring the search engine’s abilities in line with contemporary artificial intelligence technology.
   
It will, of course, take a considerable amount of time before this technology is robust enough to deliver on the promises many of the specialists in this field boldly make. However, technological advancements such as this may not be necessary to see SEO as we know it become a thing of the past. 
   
The paid search model most effectively utilized by Facebook, and to a lesser extent, Google and Bing is becoming increasingly popular as it gives marketers the ability to reach specific demographics on a scale yet to be matched by existing search engine optimization techniques. 
   
WHAT IS DEEP LEARNING?
As opposed to algorithmic learning which operates via cause and effect principles, deep learning allows machine intelligence, under varying degrees of supervision, to interpret and process data as it sees fit. This method endows computer systems with an ability to learn new skills, store information of its own volition, learn from previous interactions and function in a very similar manner to that of a biological brain.
   
HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO SEO?
As Google increasingly shifts focus to deep learning at the expense of its previous algorithmic models, expect to see each successive update embracing the technology more and more. This is already happening on a bigger scale you may realize, with the end goal being a program that understands exactly what is being searched for based on user behavior patterns. Realization of this kind of technology would almost certainly mean the demise of what we currently know as SEO.
   
PAID SEARCH
Search engines such as Google and Bing already operate their own paid search platforms, known as Google Adwords and Bing Ads respectively. In a nutshell, these platforms allow internet marketers to have their website appear at the top of the search results for a particular keyword in exchange for a fee, regardless of the sites true ranking position. This is an extremely popular online marketing method as it allows businesses, with the requisite budget, to precisely target potential customers based on their location, age, gender and a whole host of other attributes.
Facebook very effectively implements this through their Facebook Ads platform. Marketers can target Facebook users by way of their personal data and browsing behaviors, all of which Facebook stores. The result of this type of marketing is that businesses can place their products and advertisements in front of very specific groups of people, the result of this is an extremely precise and efficient way of reaching a potential customer.
   
HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO SEO?
From a purely financial perspective companies like Google have much to gain from a solely paid search based model. This, of course, would result in an extraordinary surge in profits as businesses would essentially have to pay to have any kind of online presence in relation to their target keywords.
   
However, in the end, the most popular search engine will be the one that consistently locates the exact information the user is looking for. Therefore should Google come to the conclusion that a paid search model accomplishes this more effectively than it does so at present, SEO as we know it, could again be at risk.
   
CONCLUSION
Search Engine Optimization will most likely remain effective in the short to medium term. However, over the long term, businesses should ensure their website is legitimately relevant to the search terms they are targeting. Also, ensuring your marketing model is not overly reliant on SEO would be wise, as for the first time in decades SEO could conceivably be coming to an end.
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