A pretty sweeping statement, I agree, but an accurate one, in my opinion and experience.
But -- and its a big but -- the word direct in there is the key factor of my statement and my understanding of the current path that Google is taking.
Think about it; every tweak, algorithm change or Panda-style update is moving towards being more organic and natural than we can ever appear to be.
In my view we are all kidding ourselves that Google (a company that employs many thousands of people and is worth many billions of dollars) can be manipulated by a guy in his bedroom or a small or large web agency unless they want to be -- and that's the key here.
In my view Google is moving ever more towards a manipulation free algorithm. For many years they have been telling us to abide by their guidelines, to use their analytics and to listen to representatives that are inevitably giving us the information that they want us to hear.
Yet the whole time its been those who either do not abide by the guidelines or the big name brands that rank the best, why Google? Why?
Google has more information than we will ever know, so any SEO who thinks they are buying links under the radar or doing something else a little too far out of the grey zone and into the black is deceiving himself and his clients.
Ultimately Google works on relevancy and popularity, kind of like a school playground environment where people who are popular at sports attract lots of sports mates.
They attempt (sometimes incorrectly) to give the searcher the most relevant website to their search, which in most markets is a home name brand, local authoritative source or an authority figure in that niche that the searcher in many cases will have heard of.
So therein lies both the problem and the solution: for all but the very uncompetitive searches a website that does well online is recognizable offline -- its a brand, a body or person of merit.
The key to recognizing and competing with this is in understanding how a brand is established and how this effects its overall authority online.
In essence these brands are sitting at number 1 on the rankings as a result of in-direct SEO, they have a natural following, a natural presence in press across the web, mentioned in forums and on answer engines globally every day.
Not to mention being able to do little or no wrong if implementing some dodgy SEO tactics but I won't get into that.
So, in-direct SEO is my way to describe how I think the SEO market will change in the future; its a similar principal to link baiting but on a different scale and for slightly different needs. The good SEOs amongst us have been using methods like this for many years; competitions, give-aways and applications designed to attract publicity in the right areas and of course links, mentions and shares.
Though designing and achieving this kind of SEO is difficult for some areas, in others it's easy to dream up how to attract this form of publicity online. For example an SEO company or a web design/development company has no excuse; the markets you are in are the perfect for providing a vote, your niches are full of people who have daily access to computers, blogs, social media, websites and forums and are always using them actively to promote anything they like so think of something they will like and tell them about it, or even better put it in a place they cant refuse to see it. The latter is often the more productive method of picking up links as people do not like to be told to like something, especially those who know the value of a link.
For those people in a niche about Gardening or a local hair dresser, you may struggle but persevere and think outside the box. Yes, you are a hairdresser but ultimately you're a business in your local community, a community built with all kinds of governmental and educational bodies, wink wink.
Google is becoming less accessible by SEO's who rely on link buying, directories, article marketing and other now sub-par SEO tactics because it can spot it a mile off. Yes they have worked and probably will work to some extent in the near future but I would suggest not only counting your eggs but laying new ones and buy some more chickens because your current ones are gradually being eaten by foxes.
SEO - Strategical Entreprenurial Opportunist. For me SEO is not about rankings, its about creating that 'hook' that delivers and encourages customers to use a product or service you offer through online channels. Talking of hooks, here's my carp fishing blog