“Is SEO dead?”
Now that’s a question that’s been asked a million times already, and the answer is the same. Every. Single. Time.
No, SEO isn’t dead. As a matter of fact, SEO will be around as long as search engines are around.
That said, SEO is an ever-changing industry. What used to work last year (or even last month!) might not be as effective today. That’s why, as a marketer or business owner, you must always be on the lookout for new SEO trends and strategies. Let’s get started.
Is SEO dead? No, but it’s certainly changing
As mentioned, SEO will be around for a long time and will continue to evolve. This means that you’ll need to adapt and evolve as well. Here’s why:
SEO is evolving
Change is scary, but it’s inevitable, especially when it comes to SEO.
Well, here are some SEO strategies (mainly Blackhat or disapproved ones) that used to work wonders back in the early days of search engine optimisation but that have no effect on ranking today:
- Keyword stuffing, which is shoving as many keywords as possible on the same page, generally using white text so that only the Googlebot can crawl and see it
- Cloaking, which consists in showing one version of the page to Google’s crawlers and another to users
- Buying links in bulk, which refers to paying low-quality sites to link back to yours
Should you try to use those techniques today, not only will they disappoint you in terms of results, but you’ll most likely get a Google penalty that can substantially decrease your traffic until everything is remedied.
Today, to get the quickest results with Google, you have to use Whitehat or approved techniques. Those include:
- Nailing technical SEO for your site to be crawled and indexed quickly
- Taking care of the functionality of your website
- Delivering the best user experience
- Answering your users’ questions
Google is focusing on new metrics
Back in the early days of SEO, Google used to rely on simple metrics to decide where to place a website on the SERPs. Those metrics included stuff that you can directly control, such as backlinks, keyword density, etc.
Things aren’t the same anymore, as the algorithm’s core focus today is on the user experience a site provides. Even if you have millions of backlinks, you won’t get anywhere on the SERPs if users hate your site and can’t stand using it.
Not only that, but Google also crawls other platforms like social media sites to see how your brand is doing. They then use those social signals to help better improve their results.
Even if you don’t use social media as your main marketing channel, you can still use it to improve your SEO results. Not only will it help get your pages indexed faster, but it will also help with brand building and awareness, which can boost your rankings as well.
SEO is more complicated
The modern web SEO has plenty of concepts that can be confusing at first:
- For content SEO, you must understand page layouts, provide optimised body content, include the right hyperlinks, optimise the images on your pages, etc
If you’ve been doing SEO for a while, you must’ve had to learn several new aspects to maintain your rankings (as you should). As SEO gets more complicated, you have to harness the power of education and real-world practice to master those once-confusing techniques and concepts and implement them correctly.
SEO requires more time and money
Gone are the days when one could easily rank on Google and other search engines simply by posting a poorly-optimised piece of content and sharing the link on a few forums.
Today, you have to create a fast website that loads in a few seconds, nail technical SEO, create high-quality content that your audience wants to read and come up with good meta titles and descriptions.
Does that sound difficult?
Well, that’s because it is.
Why SEO won’t die any time soon
So, SEO isn’t dead, but is it going to die any time soon?
Nope, it won’t. Here’s why.
SEO requires work and time; there’s no denying that, but once you reach the first spot on the SERPs, maintaining that position isn’t as hard. Compare that to paid advertising, where the traffic stops pouring in as soon as you stop paying, and you’ll understand why SEO has one of the highest ROIs of any marketing medium in the long run.
Consistent targeted traffic
Getting online visibility is becoming harder by the hour. That’s because the online scene is becoming more competitive as more companies turn to the Internet to reach their customers.
Now, paid advertising does offer a plethora of targeting options. That said, ads on Facebook and other platforms are displayed to users at relatively random times. Potential customers must see the ad several times to actually click and convert.
Conversely, SEO puts your content in front of your target audience right when they need it, all in a consistent manner. After all, once you reach one of the top spots of the SERPs (and do the work to stay there), you become visible in the SERPs 24/7.
It’s easy for your competitors to get more visibility if you’re using paid advertising. After all, all they have to do is spend more on ads, and before you know it, you’re missing out on plenty of potential customers.
How is that different for SEO, you ask?
Well, ranking high on Google is hard, but once you do it, it’s equally hard for your competitors to outrank you, granting you consistent traffic and sales for long.
Is SEO dead? Here are 5 strategies that still work
As mentioned above, some old strategies that used to work before are pretty much useless today. That said, many strategies can still boost your rankings, including:
Focus on functionality
Instead of focusing entirely on what Google wants, you should work on making your website as user-friendly as possible. That means that your site:
- Has to load fast: a 7-second delay in page loading time can result in a 7% reduction in conversions, according to KISSmetrics.
- Is mobile-responsive: mobile devices take up 63% of organic search visits
- Is easy to navigate
Create high-quality content
Google just loves web content that’s well-researched, unique and up-to-date.
Content is basically the pillar of SEO. What’s more important, though, is the fact that your audience does too. In other words, content isn’t less about quantity and more about quality.
Here are some tips to make sure that your content can rank high on Google:
- Write as you speak for the content to flow naturally. That way, your readers won’t get bored fast
- Use subheadings to ensure readers can quickly skim through your content when needed
- Avoid long paragraphs. No one reads those
- Use images and videos when possible
- Add your target keyword(s) organically (only where they fit naturally)
- Avoid keyword stuffing. Google hates that
Focus on niche research
Before throwing the towel and asking, “Is SEO dead?”, take a look at your keyword strategy.
There’s no denying that keyword research is an integral part of search engine optimisation.
When done correctly, it can bring you thousands of targeted website visitors.
If done poorly, on the other hand, well, you might as well not bother. Best case scenario, you don’t get any traffic at all. Worst case, you end up with an audience that will use your website resources without getting you any conversions.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when doing keyword research is targeting plenty of keywords with nothing in common just because they have high individual search volumes.
Well, Google doesn’t appreciate that. That’s because it only ranks content that satisfies the E-A-T metrics (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness).
To satisfy those metrics, you must create content that revolves around the same niche, covering it completely to show Google that you’re an expert in your field and that you’re worthy of the top spots on the SERPs.
A popular example that proves that niche relevancy is key when it comes to keyword research is About.com. You do remember it, right?
About.com was a popular site back in the day, but it tanked in terms of Google rankings for a couple of reasons:
- The site had no focus niche. Instead, it was about everything (thus the name)
- It had hundreds of thousands of low-quality articles, most of which no one cared to read
The company was rebranded to Dotdash and split About.com into six different websites, each focusing on a specific niche. Not only that, but they also got rid of over 900.000 articles that didn’t meet their new content quality standard.
Here’s how that went for them in terms of traffic, which proves that focusing on a single niche is better than writing sporadically about anything and everything:
Update your content
Most webmasters write an article, post it, and never look its way again.
Here’s what happens if that’s what you’ve been doing: at first, Google may rank your content at the top of the SERPs for a while. That said, as information within your piece of content gets outdated, Google may turn to your competitors for up-to-date content and rank their pages over yours. Next thing you know, you’re not receiving traffic any more.
The solution is easier said than done: you have to create fresh content. That process can be time-consuming. That’s why you should create evergreen content and continue to update it as needed. For that, simply set a reminder for every article you post that reminds you to recheck the content every six to twelve months.
Perform regular SEO audits
SEO issues occur all the time. The problem is that they usually fly under the radar until it’s too late, when your traffic suddenly drops. To avoid that, make sure to perform SEO audits regularly. That way, you can stay on top of any issues before they affect your rankings.
Let us handle SEO for you
SEO requires plenty of focus and dedication. Thankfully, you don’t have to go through it alone. Book a discovery call with our Birmingham SEO agency today, and we’ll show you how we can boost your rankings.