SEO – dead or alive (part 1)?
There seems to be this huge trend of discussing whether SEO is dead or not.
I don’t profess to know the answer. I also don’t have a long important title that is intended to persuade you that I’m an authoritative figure on the matter. But, what I think I can do is give an unbiased commentary on what I’ve found across the board (that sounds really boring, I promise it’s not that bad).
While knowing about this subject won’t equip you with new chat-up lines or make you the life and soul of a party, it will help you understand certain trends and help you make a more informed decision over how your business should approach SEO.
Today I’m going summarise the arguments made by those who say it’s dead.
From the numerous articles I came across arguing that SEO was dead, none of them actually said it was. Right…
Instead, what they were arguing is that the SEO approach of keyword stuffing and duplicating content is definitely in the sick-house and heading for certain extinction.
The assumption that SEO in this context is heading for its end was made in 2013 when Google stopped providing data about keyword popularity. But why did Google decide to do this?
Well firstly, they found that keyword SEO skewed results in an unhelpful way. It meant that pages controlled by those who knew the tricks and keywords were appearing higher in the search results than they ought be. For us ‘users’, it meant that we were being given lower quality of information and ultimately being turned away. What’s more, us users are aware of the difference between sponsored listings and organic listings more so than ever, so are often less inclined to choose the top results or sponsored ads.
In addition to this, SEO was reducing the value of a paid Adword link.
Google Adwords (a form of SEO) was becoming devalued by these other forms of SEO, which ranked a page in an unfriendly way to humans. These other forms of SEO were making people less inclined to use Adwords because:
· They thought Google was becoming less popular.
· Or, they didn’t want their business to become associated with the lower quality yield that a Google search now seemed to be providing.
When you take into account the fact that Google makes a lot of its money through Adwords you can see the problem that the keyword SEO was causing.
So essentially, Google has made this change to make itself more money by retaining its users through quality content.
But something else that frequently popped up in people’s arguments was that SEO is dead because consumers are shifting towards a stage of only being interested in products or services that people they know have used. Let me explain.
People are searching in new ways. When they look for a restaurant or want to go and see a film, they’re more interested in the opinions of people they know, as opposed to what Google spits back at them on its first page. Facebook’s move to step up their search options is something that has really left Google behind in this field.
Taking this point further is another article that I came across. It said that people don’t trust Google anymore because it doesn’t have ‘faces’. What I think the author was trying to get across here is that lacking ‘faces’ is lacking social proof. Because Facebook has these ‘faces’ it can be said to be at the opposite end of this.
This social proof is one of the biggest driving factors in the decisions that consumers make and Google seems to be missing out on this right now. Conventional SEO is dying because customer trends are changing. Google will always be the place we go to get information, but not necessarily the place we go looking for a service or produce.
Google Plus tried so hard to bring this social proof, but it just didn’t take off did it? It didn’t offer anything different enough for users to justify using a second social network so close to Facebook.
Tying in with this idea of social proof, is the rise of the ‘app’.
Whether it’s searching for the best things to do in a city, swiping for partners (use that term as loosely as you like), or trying to find a take-away that delivers for free, it’s our phones that help us find everything we want.
The use of an app is a means of only searching for that particular thing. Usually, these apps all possess a rating system that helps us make an informed decision into whether that new place is for us. By giving us a much more targeted search, apps are quickly replacing Google in this field, making SEO something that’s becoming less relevant. As a business owner, it might be worthwhile looking beyond the search engines and identify what apps you could offer your product or service from.