Is SEO Dying?

Is SEO Dying?

This is an old question, but one that people continue asking today. The short answer is "no", but if you're asking you probably want to know why.

Probably 6-7 years ago I remember my first time really hearing that claim by a guy selling a network marketing product for marketing businesses online. Ironically his product did actually employ SEO, but was billed as a replacement for SEO which they said was dead.

If anything SEO has become more important than ever since Google put an emphasis on local results.

The SEO game has evolved a lot over the years, and certainly old tactics are dead. But by and large the people professing online that SEO is dead are in one of two camps:

  • They don't actually know anything about SEO and, as an armchair critic, have a lot of false assumptions
  • They are looking for attention through a controversial-looking headline

My guess as to where most of this comes from is that a lot of people associate the term "SEO" with black hat tactics that game the system. Those people think that SEO as a whole involves a series of parlor tricks to outsmart Google — that it's a never-ending game of switching tactics to stay ahead of the algorithm changes. The reality is that a good deal of the white hat (read: legit) tactics that worked 5 years ago still work today, and given Google's trajectory will probably continue to work for a long time.

If you view the term "SEO" only as a collection of shady web tactics, then yes I'd argue that SEO is a dying thing. But taken as a whole, it's just as much a part of a savvy business' online marketing as it ever was.

Video Transcript

Hey, guys, this is Brian from design | One | web and in this video we're going to tackle this age old question, "Is SEO dead?" You may have heard this before. It's been a big headline. Seems to resurface every time Google announces a big algorithm change. Articles all over the web professing, "Oh, geez, this new change! SEO is dead! SEO is dead!"

Short answer? No. But you came for more than that, obviously, so let's delve into that a little further. Why do people say that?

Well, there's a lot of SEO techniques that have worked over the years that help websites rank better but it's sort of exploiting the way that a given Google algorithm works and deems a page important. Google doesn't like that. They want to a deliver good experience for the users, so they want to find sites that are legitimately good answers to people's questions; and sites that are low quality and just use exploitative tactics to rank - the algorithms are constantly being updated to kind of block those tactics so that that doesn't happen. And a lot of times you'll see where SEO people that have relied very heavily on those types of tactics, after an algorithm update, "Whoops! My site doesn't rank at all anymore!" So that's probably led some people to assume SEO is dead, but really crappy SEO tactics are dead or dying. Doing it the quote "right way," not at all.

Here's a good example of what I'm talking about with that. Over the years I've met, obviously, a lot of different folks in this industry. Some of them very sharp, I've learned a lot from. Others ... less so. And this example is from one of the latter of those. He was out-sourcing content creation for his website to, I don't know, some foreign country that didn't natively speak English. The kind of thing where you can get a whole bunch of written content for less than $10. And he was getting, I think it was like 50 articles a month. Just written, churned out very quickly, very cheaply by people.

And when I asked him why he was doing it this way his answer to me was, "Well, it's been shown that a website that publishes more than 40 something articles a month is seen as a legitimate news site and automatically ranks way higher than sites that don't publish that often. So, I'm just going to buy a whole bunch of articles, you know, and we're just gonna time them out throughout the month so that the site can publish 50 articles and then we'll rank."

I read a couple and I was like, "These are terrible! Don't you see that as a problem?" And his stance was essentially, "No one's going to read these articles. This is just to make the site rank better."

Well, that's entirely the wrong approach because, as we've talked about in other videos and throughout our website and our blog, you have to care about the quality of the content on your site because what is this traffic doing? You want them to go to your site, right? And once they're there, what kind of experience are they gonna have? Do you think if they are asking a legitimate question, they arrive at one of these articles that is terrible, it's worded poorly, the language is confusing, it doesn't actually answer the question very well, it's laid out poorly, and it's not very easy to read. Not a good experience.

And then you spend all this money trying to rank better for what? Because they're not going to stay on the site. They're not gonna "convert," if you will, to a customer from there. Bad approach.

But it doesn't mean a whole bunch of people didn't try things like that. Now, over time those approaches have failed. It's not a tactic that, that, really works well anymore. Google's put a much greater emphasis on the quality of the content and social proofing, which is how many people talk about it on social media, share it, like it, etc. That's proof that real human beings found it useful which articles of that caliber, much less likely for people to share, so that's a negative cue. And when they make algorithm updates that kinda discourage that behavior, people, like I said, that rely on those types of tactics are in trouble. Whereas, if you're adhering to what's known as white hat tactics, which is playing by Google's rules, things that it likes to see, usually these updates don't mean a whole bunch for your tactics in that kind of situation.

But it doesn't stop people from, you know, creating link bait-type headlines that are worded with something dramatic, like, "It's the end of SEO!" or, you know, "The internet will never be the same!" just so they can get eyes on their page, and it's deceptive.

So again, short answer? No, SEO is not dead.

If you want more information about what SEO is or how you can do it, how you can get started, how you can even run SEO audit reports for free to kind of get a feel of where your site is at, we put links below this video to those types of content to answer those questions. And if you want to see more videos where we cover everything from creating new content to doing SEO to improving the web design of your site, subscribe to our channel and we'll be posting a lot more that delve into that kind of content for free. If this was helpful to you, click "Like" and share any questions you have below and we're happy to answer them.

Thanks! This is Brian for design | One | web.

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Brian Watkins

Brian Watkins

Web strategist, tech geek, and music lover. I've been in the marketing and web development industry for since 2007, combining technical and coding skills with creative writing to improve businesses' websites and better communicate their brands to their target customers. Having worked at both ends of this spectrum — the back end coding and the front end presentation, as well as business operations and strategizing with sales teams — I've gained some valuable insights in making all these pieces mesh.

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