Is SEO dead? Some experts say that if it’s not dead now, it will be soon.
Every time I read or hear that the days of SEO are numbered, I scratch my head. I believe that reports of the demise of SEO are greatly exaggerated. In fact, I am confident that SEO is alive and well, and will continue to play a critical role in your online success.
However, over the past five years, there has been a lot of discussion about whether or not companies should still focus on SEO for their online marketing efforts. Some people argue that SEO is less effective today than in the past, that is slowly becoming irrelevant, or that it is completely obsolete.
The InCore team is here to help you navigate – and dominate – the online jungle. We want to explain to you why we made one of the most important decisions in our business. And it has all to do with “the death of SEO“.
The evolution of search
The SEO debate really started with Google Panda. Panda was released in February 2011 and impacted almost 12% of the search results. Some aspects were easy to understand, some aspects were quite confusing. But one thing was certain – Panda disrupted the life of every SEO professional.
Panda marked the beginning of a new era. Gone were the days of spamming, keyword stuffing and low-quality links to rank your website. Panda was one of the first steps Google took to introduce machine learning into their search engine. This was done by gathering ratings from users on the quality of a website based on a large set of questions. In simple terms, Google’s engineers then combined machine learning algorithms and those subjective human opinions and applied them to the rest of the web.
Then two years later, Google announced Google Hummingbird, which was a major rewrite of the core algorithm of Google’s Search Engine. One of Hummingbird’s main purposes was to better understand the true intent of searches and eliminate irrelevant data.
Fast forward to 2018, and we’ve come to a point where site content and the user experience are main factors for search engine relevance. In this age of mobile searched, providing an amazing user experience is the most important element that contributes to a top ranking. This great user experience is seen as providing people with the information that they want to find, in a short amount of time.
How content marketing & UX is changing SEO
But, there are few topics that people haven’t already written about. This is what people mean when they say “SEO is dead.”
The SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) are crowded. A massive amount of content has hit the web over the past 5 years, something that is often referred to as “content shock.” And even though it’s true that Google is ranking more content than ever before, there’s a hugely important piece to this conversation that often is not taken into consideration.
Most content sucks!
You can type almost any short- or long-tail keyword into Google and other search engines and get a result. But that doesn’t mean the content you find is relevant to your search query and valuable to the user.
Content that ranks in Google could be there for several reasons.
- Perhaps it was some of the first content ever published on a certain subject, so it got a lot of links at an early stage.
- Maybe it was published on a high authority website, which gives it a competitive edge over the other “higher quality content”.
- Maybe the keyword it targets isn’t very competitive, so whoever wrote it didn’t worry about creating something that’s highly valuable to their audience.
Until Google’s Panda update, you could rank on a ton of different keywords just by publishing a large amount of lower quality content—because there wasn’t much content to compete with.
In the early days of Google, that brought in a ton of traffic. Today, that creates the illusion of competition.
As Google gets smarter and smarter, it gets better and better at figuring out what pages have high-quality content.
This is interesting—because it gives smaller websites that don’t have a lot of backlinks a chance to rank on long-tail keywords. By producing high quality, in-depth content, it’s often possible for a small, low authority website to rank above its large competitors.
Optimizing for people, not for search engines
The goal of Google is to provide their users with the most valuable, and relevant result possible. This means that your site can benefit greatly by focusing on improving the experience a user has on your website.
Search engines want websites to load quickly, they want users to navigate easily, and they want web pages to provide valuable content. In other words, Google likes websites that offer users the information they are looking for, within seconds.
And at the end of the day, what is good for the consumer is good for organic search performance — especially if we consider how machine learning is becoming more important to search algorithms by incorporating areas such as search sequences and content quality.
Here are a few more statistics about SEO that are important to keep in mind when you consider the notion that SEO is dead.
Why InCore SEO is no longer with us
At InCore Marketing, we help our clients with much more than just SEO.
In order to rank for your keywords, your content needs to be the best possible resource for the user performing the search. Relevancy and importance is determined by the people first, and by Google second. SEO strategies still help, but content that doesn’t provide value for the searcher cannot outperform other websites any longer.
Our job at InCore Marketing is to set up our clients for online success by creating and promoting content that customers love.
We attract potential customers and offer helpful and educational content in exchange for their contact information. Then we keep on sharing quality content over time through Email Marketing & Social Campaigns. Gradually, we prove expertise and build trust between companies and their audiences to convert into a final sale and build lasting relationships.
Building an audience of loyal, repeat customers involves much more than just SEO. It is a mix of creating content, promoting content, engaging with audiences, building trust, and a bit of traditional SEO tactics. We are in the business of content creation and promotion. SEO alone simply does not do the job anymore.
Chadd Politt explains it like this;
SEO is not something you do anymore. It’s what happens when you do everything else right.
People shop and learn in a whole new way compared to just a few years ago, as companies we need to adapt in order to survive. It’s time to spend our energy to understand our audience, and carefully crafting a message that resonates. When we do this right, SEO just happens.
The Internet of Things is upon us with automated cars, smartwatches, and even light bulbs and fridges that are connected to the Internet. Internet searches performed by actual people aren’t going away. We’ll just be performing them from our cars, fridges, watches, and other devices which are also performing searches on their own.
Whatever you’re doing to increase your website’s visibility in search engines, Just keep doing it, until it stops working. The internet evolves, content evolves, and SEO involves. And you will simply have to evolve with it.
If we focus on quality content and a great user experience, we will remain in control of organic search rankings. This will be beneficial to companies and consumers alike, as we’ll be better placed to deliver the best online experience throughout the buyer’s journey for each search a user makes.
Is your digital marketing strategy ready to adopt the rapid changes in online behaviour, technology and search algorithms? The time is now.