The other day I brought up the subject of SEO and how some people believe it’s dead.
I talked about how Google stopped providing data on keyword popularity (which made old-school SEO something more difficult to get away with) because they were getting tired of rubbish content appearing so high up on their pages.
Google also made this change because it was losing them money. There’s no point in repeating myself here so check out the previous blog to see what I’m talking about.
Another argument that claimed SEO was dead based it's conclusion on consumer behaviour. This argument is that SEO is dying as customer trends of just looking at the top results that Google returns no longer apply any more. Basically, a user’s criteria for choosing something is now based on seeing what people they know have said about that certain product or service.
Now, I’m going to look at those who argue that SEO is still alive and explain what I think they’re trying to say.
SEO is still a presence not to be ignored.
Okay, that sounds a little bit dramatic but even if SEO is in sick-health (as argued by the other camp) it still dominates a huge presence. According to a site called State of Digital (which seems like a reliable source), 105 people a second search for SEO links on Google. In addition to this, just over 80% of all existing websites also mention SEO globally. Those are some serious facts.
So I guess what this argument is trying to say is that even if it is going to die, it’s so big for the time being that it merits some attention. Though this is dangerous territory to be in as a small business or startup.
When we now refer to SEO, what do we mean?
When looking at a number of arguments stating SEO was alive and well, I was blown over (not literally – I keep my window closed) by how petty some of the arguments out there are.
One that kept popping up was how SEO simply needs redefining. They were saying that when people refer to it as being ‘dead’, they’re only referring to one aspect of it. This aspect being that which contains shady backlinks, keyword stuffing and mass linking scams. This old approach involved trying to get your site ranked higher than your competitors by discovering the latest techniques that could trick search engines. This is the part of SEO that nobody denies is dead.
What this argument is essentially saying is that the concept of SEO wont change, but the techniques to maintain high ranking will.
With this change in definition comes a change with the approach.
Achieving a high ranking is still a worthwhile goal for any business of any size. It can often be forgotten that SEO is an acronym for ‘search engine optimisation’ – it’s an outcome, not a process. To achieve this outcome, you market your brand. SEO therefore falls under the broad umbrella of your content marketing strategy.
As a result of changes made by Google, SEO experts and marketers have been pushed together. Econsultancy, an online marketing hub, state that 74% of businesses have now combined SEO teams with their social media marketing groups.
However, what has made this integration difficult is how different the approaches of each camp are. By this, I think what this argument is trying to say is that social media requires a human touch, whereas SEO professionals are more inclined to deal with search engine metrics. This makes carrying out a successful social media campaign more difficult – especially if you’re looking at people as numbers.
But there’s a flip side to this that I’m going to (attempt to) explain.
It’s basically around how the most successful content sites, aren’t actually ‘content sites’ as we know it. If you look at the top websites – Facebook, YouTube, Amazon – these are built on applications, tools and communities. They are not traditional content sites at all. I guess what we’d think of as a content site would be something like the Daily Mail Online or The New York Times, the classic examples of content-based websites.
Our top websites aren’t dependent on traditional forms of content like blogs, info graphics or boring whitepapers. Sure these are still useful, but it’s going to be increasingly more difficult to compete with websites that offer more interactive experiences. This is where the numbers game becomes important and where our SEO experts return to a more prominent position.
What’s the deal then? Is SEO dead?
I’m getting tired of posing this questions but what seems to be the case, with both ‘yes’ and ‘no’ camps, is how we need to return to the root of SEO. What do we mean when we talk about it? How should we define it? What are we looking to get out of it? Answer these questions and I guess you’ll find your answer.