SEO is a constantly evolving art. I would not say SEO is dying but certain practices in SEO have become obsolete and ineffective
Such practices such as meta-taging, Link exchange have indeed lost ground in the SEO industry.
What has happened over the last five years is that link strategists have been going around masquerading as search engine optimizer in such a huge volume that most of the Internet world has lost sight of what SEO has always been. They are confused. SEO has little to do with off-site factors, often, nothing at all.
I write extensively about this all the time in hopes of drawing
attention to an ever growing search engine manipulation problem; that essentially, the search engines have themselves created.
The answer to the question : when will a web page be rewarded based on merit? Someday.