Yes, I believe there will be an end to SEO, as we know it. However, it won’t happen overnight, let alone within the next couple of years. Here’s why…
There are too many “newbies”
SEO is hot. Really hot. Therefore, there’s a generation of new sites, or existing sites with new SEO awareness coming on board all the time. And with that need, there is plenty of existing SEO professionals and up-and-coming enthusiasts to handle the demand.
The Search Engines are still refining
The search engines, albeit improved, will continue to tweak their search algorithms to make many of the insider tricks of no value. The search engines want quality content, and quality links into that content. And in time, they will succeed.
SEO practices become standard
Due to the efforts of the search engines, and as many of the specialties within SEO are no longer valued, I believe we’ll see the specialty of SEO (for the most part) go away and become part of the website design and management workflow. SEO specialists, or their roles, will increasingly move in-house (yet there will always be the need for some external services).
So what can you do to be prepared? Like design, usability and accessibility, I believe SEO should be a discipline that is valued and practiced as part of the site development process (that means properly budgeted for, planning, development and management phases). Start by learning foundational SEO, then incorporate it as part of your daily activities.
The fact that the specialty of Search Engine Optimization will go away should not be cause for concern. Like much of the Web, it changes and morphs as time marches on. Be like a boy scout: be prepared.