Is SEO Dead?

SEO isn’t dying it is just changing

January 29, 2020

Let's break down some key metrics and usage trends.. 

First off, all marketing channels become statured over time. It’s just a question of when. This applies to all of the search and social platforms including but not limited to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and email marketing.

For example, take a look at the instagram engagement rates over the past few years:

As you can see, It doesn’t matter if it is a sponsored post or an organic post, the trend on Instagram is that engagement is going down. But even with those decreasing numbers, you are seeing sponsored posts on Instagram surging by 150%.

In other words, people are still spending money because they are seeing an ROI or generating enough value in their eyes.

And the same is happening with digital ad spending.

The numbers are on the rise because companies are generating an ROI.

So, how is SEO not dying?

Just because the metrics aren’t going in your favor doesn’t mean that the medium is dead. When you look at search as a whole, Google still dominates market share with a whopping 94%.

People still use Google and prefer them as their method of search. But what’s changed is how Google is being used. It used to be where you would use platforms like Instagram for discovery and Google for commerce (purchasing).

The trend has switched over the years in which Instagram is being heavily used for commerce and Google is mainly used as a discovery engine. For example, take a look at this case study

By sending people to educational-based content first (and then selling through the content), Olay was able to increase click-throughs by 87%, decrease their cost per click by 30%, and increase conversions by 100%.

This is a prime example of how more people are using Google as a discovery engine first instead of a commerce engine.

SEO isn’t dying it is just changing

While SEO isn’t dead, over the years, elements of it have either died or evolved into something totally new. As a result, outdated SEO tactics can now actively kill your rankings.

In 2020, Link building is still incredibly important and remains one of Google’s top ranking factors. It used to be that all you had to do was build as many links as possible to your site and you’d start ranking higher. But, this is no longer the case. The quality and relevance of your links matter far more than sheer quantity.

For example, Rand Fishkin ran an experiment where he told all of his Twitter followers to perform a Google search for the term “best grilled steak” and to click on the first listing, hit the back button, and then click on the 4th listing.

So in reality, the end-user, and their behavior, contribute a great deal to how Google adjusts its rankings. Also, ranking number one doesn’t have the strong correlation of increased website traffic it used to have.

Today’s search results are populated with ads, featured snippets, and question boxes. So, ranking number one still means your site might be buried. As a result, modern web surfers understand that they need to scroll a little to get to the organic stuff. 

The shift towards UX and the Opportunities it presents

According to this study, as Google has had the time and energy to invest in their search algorithm, the search results now tend to the populated with sites that place a focus on user experience.

That  should not come as a surprise, as part of Google’s philosophy has always been focused on delivering the best user experience. With recent technological advances, Google and other search engines are now better placed than ever to deliver this vision. This focus will only intensify over the coming months and years. As the use of machine learning increases, user signals will factor more prominently into search engine rankings. 

The new search results page is designed to respond to the user’s search query much faster, with more useful information and sources.  We see this as an opportunity for more SEO. For example, a new feature on Google Search, (where we see a huge opportunity to take advantage of) is Featured Snippets. In some instances, Google extracts information from a well-optimized page, to answer a specific question asked in the search query.Featured Snippets have higher CTR than regular organic results.

Some refer to this as ranking on ‘#0 position’ in Google.

There are a few different types of Featured Snippets:

List type

Paragraph type

Table type

Google is smarter and more sophisticated now. It has gotten a lot better at distinguishing high-quality content from poorly optimized, spam.

Spammy SEO practices that used to dominate before will no longer work. 

For example:

Spammy backlinks to your site.

Copying content from another source

Keyword stuffing

Slow and unreliable sites

Sites not optimized for mobile devices

Clickbait headlines

And other malpractices that get penalized by Google.

In Conclusion

With so many updates and tweaks in Google’s algorithms, some older SEO tactics that used to dominate and propel websites to top rankings, simply don’t work anymore. Show people what they want when they want it. You don’t want people going to your site and clicking the back button… it will hurt your rankings. People tend to click the back button because they don’t like what they see. If you can optimize your website for the optimal user experience, people will be less likely to click the back button and stay around and interact more with your page which in turn will boost your search results.

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