OK, maybe thats a bit hyperbolic, in fact it definitely is, and not totally true. Establishing an effective brand can do wonders for search traffic, but Brian Clark had this to say about SEO:
There?s no doubt that optimization for better search engine rankings will always be a huge part of the online marketing equation. However, it may be that the top SEO players are finding that pigeonholing themselves with that narrow acronym is not in their best interest.
The SEO skill set emerges organically from more general web development. I know I didn’t start off wanting to be an SEO, but rather by I became one by learning a little design, a little coding, a little writing, a little market research and a whole lot of NLP. So perhaps “pigeonholing” isn’t the best word, maybe “specializing” is better.
The web is the nascent information economy right? The key to that would necessarily be information retrieval engines, its simply the most important way people find what they’re looking for and when they’re looking for something you can offer, then its the most important way to connect with potential customers.
Search doesn’t stalk or interrupts its customers, it lets the user beat a path to its door. Its not the “push” of traditional advertising: banner ads shoving messages down your gullet, its the “pull” of answering your customer’s needs. So I’m not sure I want search marketing lumped in with advertising, in fact I prefer to see it as the user-centric antithesis of advertising.
And yeah, conversion analysis and monetization often comes hand in hand with search-based traffic generation, but so does design and programing, its all just part of the larger skill set of web development.