Even if you're a complete newcomer to the world of web marketing, you've likely already heard the claim that SEO is dead over and over again. But is SEO dead? It's true, what most marketers from a few years ago consider search engine optimization is dead for certain. Find out what forms are still useful today and why SEO is not quite as important as it once was, regardless of your business and website type.
SEO Sea Changes
When search was still reaching its zenith of online influence, Google and the other major companies all relied primarily on keywords. A website with hundreds of repetitions of "bike repair" would climb to the top for that particular search, regardless of whether it was useful or not. This obviously had little value to the searcher, so the search engines all evolved away from basic keyword reliance and started to consider page quality too. Yet while they were fine-tuning their ability to tell a decent bike repair page from a spam-trap, the power of organic search itself started to fall. This decline led many analysts to declare that search engine optimization is dead.
Loss of Power
Before search engines, searchers relied on clunky directories similar to the telephone book. Search allowed unlisted websites to show up through the power of robotic spiders that process tons of text to find websites that are less well-linked. Internet users flocked to Google, Yahoo, and defunct sites like Ask Jeeves because they received a wider view of the Internet. Now that the Internet is full of as much junk as useful information, searchers are desiring more cultivated and closed views of the web instead of the wide view that is overwhelming and hard to process.
Demand for social search is rising and organic Internet searches are falling. This means that SEO is losing value as fewer and fewer people actually use search to find your website. A web marketing strategy based around SEO alone is already going to fall behind and will continue to lag in the future. Of course, search will always play an important role in directing traffic to your website. Completely ignoring SEO in your web design is sure to backfire, but rejecting smart user interface and navigation design in favor of SEO tricks isn't a worthwhile practice either. Instead of asking "Is SEO dead," you're better off asking "Which parts of SEO are still relevant?"
SEO Tactics That Still Work
Instead of clinging to the circa-2006 recommendations of stuffing in keywords and writing convoluted content, make sure your key phrases show up in the right spots. Google and the big search engines are still looking for proper organization, so break up those walls of text and use proper header tags. The robotic spiders can't tell your page is properly organized if you just use bold tags or fancy font tricks to offset headers.
Instead of worrying if SEO is dead, just focus on providing top notch content and a user-friendly design. Quality websites with genuine use will always receive more traffic, especially as social sharing becomes the dominant method for referral. Scale down the outright SEO and focus on improvements that work regardless of the traffic source for tactics that net the best return on your investment.
Written By Mike Tungate
Hello! I am the Web Services Manager @ EnvisionIT Solutions. I create beautiful websites, branding and marketing systems for businesses. Let me know if you have any questions. I am an avid photographer and a lover of musical instruments.