In the past few years the debate about whether SEO is still worth your marketing dollars has gotten increasingly heated. While some experts maintain that the practice of keyword-centric SEO is here to stay, an ever-increasing number of industry veterans have changed their tone.
The issue is by no means new. In 2013 industry guru Jill Whalen quit her 20 year career in SEO with the words:
“Finally, … Google put their money where their mouth was … At last the only real way to do SEO was what I had been espousing all along. And it’s a beautiful thing! Today’s SEO blogs and conferences are bursting with SEO consultants talking about how, when you create amazing websites and content for your users, the search engines will follow. … Which means, my friends, that my work here is done.”
How did it come to this?
In the search engine space, Google’s business model has always been to improve the quality of search results. They have largely achieved this by developing systems that process website data better; based on the actual content of a page or site, rather than meta data. For marketers in 2015, this means that relevant content is the only way to achieve high rankings in organic searches. As a direct result more and more marketers are shifting their budgets towards measures like content marketing, in other words: creating content to acquire a relevant audience.
What does this mean for SEO?
Is SEO dead? Well, it depends on how you define SEO. If we are talking about practices like keyword optimisation and placement, then it is probably fair to say that it is on its way out. But let’s not forget what the term SEO stands for – Search Engine Optimisation. That encompasses all means that improve the search ranking of your website, and that does not end with keywords. There are other factors, of a more technical nature, that influence rankings – page loading times, performance on mobile devices and accessibility, for instance.
SEO, in a broader sense, will remain a vital practice in the online space for the foreseeable future. While content marketing will do its part to help your brand stay relevant, the SEO of the future will be dominated by solving rather technical issues. SEO is dead! Long live SEO!.