The Death of SEO: Fact or Fiction?
Enter a room filled with digital marketers and ask them if SEO is dead, and you’ll immediately think you entered West Side Story. The room will separate into two groups, and one side will shout, “SEO is dead!” and the other side will come back with, “It is not dead!”
Why People Believe SEO Is Dead
The big battle between the life or death of SEO has a lot to do with people’s thoughts on the practice of it. When SEO first emerged, it was something that many people scoffed at. Why? It didn’t make sense. It was calculated.
Use keywords these numbers of times, in these areas of an article, and get as many links as possible to the site using that keyword phrase. It didn’t matter what the article said, and a lot of times, it didn’t even have to make sense. It still ranked if people followed that process.
Over time, Internet users grew frustrated with the websites they found on search engines. People wanted answers to their questions, and finding articles with a bunch of keywords in them didn’t do it.
Google got smarter. They started to find websites where content made sense. They looked for keywords in it that matched what their users were putting in the search bar, and then they ranked them first.
Some website owners noticed huge decreases in their rankings. They realized pages they were ranking highly for were no longer on the first page, and some of them, weren’t being ranked at all. They had to change their approach.
Many would think they would catch on to the value of good content versus trying to game the system, but that didn’t happen. They decided that maybe copying good content would help them rank better. All they had to do was take good content from another site, and then keep posting links to their site on any website they could find that would accept it. It worked! Not for long, though.
Google’s algorithm updates came quickly and made the bots more intelligent. Duplicate content was recognized as a reason for site penalization, and those low quality links? They hurt a site, too.
At this point, many people looked at SEO and threw their hands up in the air and said, “SEO is dead. It just doesn’t work anymore.” Others said, “SEO has never been what you thought it was, so yes, in a way it is dead.”
The Resurrection of SEO
SEO is not dead. Old school black and grey hat SEO is dead.
The people who developed good quality content and built relationships online, which resulted in backlinks that supported authority figures in industries, are the ones who understood the real SEO.
The Internet has always been about the user. The sole reason it exists is to serve people good content. Informative and entertaining content. If you don’t give people one of those two, there’s nothing for them.
But how does SEO fit into that? As in how does keyword research, optimizing content with keywords, and spreading the word about a website work now? It all still has a place, as long as it’s not abused as it used to be.
Keyword research is still a viable part of SEO. You need to know what your users are searching for when they use Google. That’s what you base content on when you’re adding value to your site.
Adding those keyword phrases is an important part of SEO because Google needs them to know who should see your content. Does that mean you still have to play the game a bit by including keyword phrases a certain number of times in specific parts of the content? Yes and no. You need to use them, but you don’t want to overuse them. Use them naturally, and don’t be afraid to use similar keywords. Your content can rank for those, too. Using them in headers can help as well. Headers are important parts of articles because Internet users like to skim, and that’s where their eyes naturally gravitate.
What is important to know is that content needs to be informative, entertaining and attractive.
The Future of SEO
The digital marketing world continues to evolve. It won’t be too long before SEO will be changing again with voice search and artificial intelligence taking over our lives. Keyword research may take on a whole new meaning, along with boosting the authority of a website with link building and other tactics.
As long as we remember what is important - the Internet user - changes won’t affect us too much. Just stay current on how to figure out what people are using the Internet for and how they use it, and then provide them with what they want and need. The technical parts of it, such as using keywords and link building are just additions that can make what you already have better.
For more tips on improving your SEO, grab a copy of our Ultimate SEO Checklist.
Phil is Founder and COO of Main Street ROI. Phil leads the company’s operations and is primary creator of Main Street ROI’s marketing training programs. He is an expert in search engine marketing, website analytics, and sales funnel optimization. Phil’s marketing thought leadership has been published on Forbes.com, Inc.com, MSN.com, and many other major business media outlets.
Phil earned his Master of Engineering Management degree from Thayer School of Engineering and Tuck School of Business and his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Engineering degrees from Dartmouth College. While attending Dartmouth, Phil started every game on the varsity football team as the defensive safety.