but sadly SEO today is largely a steaming pile of manure which is propagated by snake oil salesmen to companies and individuals who do not know better.
Wow, that sounded really familiar. Truth man... Truth.
Let's call it what it is -- CHEATING. In the majority of cases SEO as a "cottage industry" amounts to dumping a can of shellac on a pile. No matter how much you polish it and how shiny it is, it's still hard crusty bug * on soft stinky cow *.
For Search engines, SEO is a case of whack-a-mole. Every time some SEO "expert" comes up with a new cheat, the search engines have to pimp slap them down. That's why SEO-tards run around like chickens with their heads cut off every time Google updates their algorithms.
Does it have a future? So long as scam artists can find suits with checkbooks ignorant enough to hand over cash for vague promises and card-stacked lies? It certainly does -- no matter how sleazy and borderline criminal most of SEO is.