It’s been a topic that’s been brought up and over and over. Some have claimed that SEO has already died several times. Others have even considered it an over the top version of beating a dead horse. Is SEO dead? And if not, is it dying? As search engines, especially monoliths such as the infamous Google begin to roll out updates that continue to develop the technological landscape.
These new and different changes tend to provoke people each time to question whether SEO will be able to compete as it once did. As such, they begin to preach and affirm that SEO is dead, as old-fashioned SEO tactics begin to be replaced by more technical demands and advanced tactics from a technologically growing environment.
An in depth view at current SEO statistics
First, it’s important to go over relevant SEO statistics and truly see if the modern search engine still has a need for SEO, or whether it’s a dying art doomed to soon fail.
- SEO leads have about a 15% close rate, while outbound leads have about 2%
- 79% of search engine users regularly click on natural search results.
- 93% of online experiences start with a search engine.
- 70% of links search users click are organic.
- 82% of internet users use search.
In reference to the statistics above, 70% of the links that are clicked are still organic links that have been manually searched. Doesn’t that just emphasize how important SEO still is, when such a large majority of searches still rely on optimization to direct them to the right places? 79% of search engine users still regularly click on the natural search results which appear, meaning there is a lot of potential influence out there for SEO to be able to market towards. People may claim that SEO is dying, but statistically, there is still a strong and potential market for SEO.
Not only that, 82% of businesses still considers their blogs as integral parts to the success of their businesses. This ties in well with the fact that content is still the number one driving force and reason behind successful SEO.
A look at more specific and relevant SEO statistics
Furthermore, perhaps one of the biggest supporters of the need for SEO is that 75% of users will never scroll to page 2 of the search engine results that they are engaged in. This is still, even now, such a relevant statistic. These same users will also ignore results on search engines that are paid ads, focusing solely on organic search results. This really places an emphasis on the need for originality, creativity and the idea of uniqueness as the foundational bases behind modern SEO.
These statistics serve as a heavy reminder of why SEO is still more successful than ever, even in a world of constant developments taking place. It encourages SEO to adapt to the new forms of technology that is available.
The background and history of SEO
So, is SEO dead? The short answer is a definite no. A detailed answer however, begins with the death, or rather, examining the step by step history or SEO, explaining why people seem to constantly be under the belief that SEO is dead, again.
The early beginnings of SEO
SEO began with keywords, whereby companies spun a term called keyword stuffing. This led to websites being overrun with excessive amount of keywords in order to manipulate their companies to the top of the page results.
As search engines began to limit the potential of keywords, links became the next complementary tool for SEO consultants to move their clients and businesses to the top once again. Done in combination with keyboards, linking websites in a reciprocal manner would lead search engines to trust those websites more. This was despite the fact that these links were not genuine, honest, or even constructive in any way possible.
Then followed domains, whereby a domain littered with key-words would also increase the visibility of those websites. However, as these tricks quickly became recognized and dismissed by search engines, guest blog networks were a significant trend in the SEO world. This is because SEO companies would voluntarily provide articles and content at no cost to reputable websites, as long as the content they provided had been optimized and fine-tuned to their preferences. By using this form of linking over others, it was easier to move websites back to the top of the first page for any searches that users performed.
The rise of social media and SEO
However, with the rise of social media came a myriad of both benefits and issues which changed the landscape and the thought process behind SEO. Sociability became a phenomenon which garnered the eyes of large scale corporations and entrepreneurs alike through Facebook, Twitter and rising stars such as Instagram.
It was the idea that if your content was liked, referenced in a hash tag or retweeted, search engines will associate it with a new form of trustworthiness. More simply put, with a higher level of trust in a brand name comes increased visibility for that brand.
Why do social media also have negative benefits for SEO?
The issue with this new abuse of social media is that even if consumers do click on social media links, they are less likely to engage with the contents of the website, let alone purchase any goods or services from the website, compared to users who discover the website through search engine results.
Manipulation through lackluster SEO strategy and attempts to cut corners is what leads to poor return on investment, and the belief that SEO is dying.
What social media highlighted more than any other event was the death of below par SEO. More than ever, it has become easier to differentiate between poorly performed SEO that had misinformed clients fooled, and an authentic and engaging professional business that has successfully lifted their client’s rankings and positions to greatly increase both profits and earnings.
SEO needs quality and original content to work
Following the superficial nature of social media and some of the fraudulent benefits that were associated with it, content was the largest trend. It is still the dominant and the most trusted method of successfully performing SEO.
Search engines such as Google are in demand, ever searching for content that is beneficial to their users, rather than simply trying to manipulate and fool them. Websites that regularly update and churn out quality content are rewarded with a higher ranking, which is why it is important for SEO consultants to now focus on content writing, leading to similarly content marketing.
The impact of the smart phone industry and SEO
One of the most important events in SEO history was the rise of smart phones, it truly illustrates that SEO is not dying but rather transforming itself by adapting to the new technological environments. With smart phones came a new way to use search engines and browse the internet. It was still the same, just done through a different device. This is what caught those who poorly performed at SEO by resorting to underhanded methods off guard, and rewarded those who were successfully prepared for the inclusion of smart phones.
It was in this period that it became clear how important mobile optimization was. With the growing use of smart phones beginning to quickly overtake desktop users in mid-2013 as seen in the graph above, online search queries via phone only dramatically increased. This forced SEO consultants to develop their websites into mobile friendly experiences that could be easily navigated by any user who was surfing the internet through their mobile phone. If a website wasn’t designed or optimized well enough for mobile users, they will quickly exit the page, rendering the whole point of the SEO pointless.
A need to understand analytics and statistics
Similarly, technical knowhow became crucial to SEO professionals. It was important to analyze and be critical of the statistics your website had in order to determine whether search engines like Google were able to crawl optimized sites and index the content that was created. Google Analytics and Google Search Console served as a bridge between this, allowing SEO companies to discover more details and errors regarding their strategies. If anything, these technological developments illustrated the importance of quality content and technical competence in modern SEO.
A possible entrant, the rise of virtual and augmented reality
Similar to the rise of mobile phones, in upcoming technological advances we can see augmented and virtual reality as new methods that will incentivize users to browse the internet for their search needs through even more different ways. This is another call to arms, if not a check set in place for any SEO consultant.
Despite the fact that virtual reality will revolutionize the way that we perceive and understand the online world, the way that users will search will foundationally remain the same. This is why it will be necessary to begin further SEO with the inclusion of both augmented and virtual reality. By 2025, it is expected that the augmented and virtual consumer markets will be worth $18.9 billion, an amount which involving companies just cannot afford to take lightly. At its core, just like mobile phones, it will fundamentally change nothing to search engine methods but only require us to optimize our websites for this new change.
The current landscape of SEO
Modern SEO requires the technical understanding and knowledge to assist Google in indexing your website’s critical information. You must appeal to the demographic you’re targeting, show them what you have and why it is what they are looking for. Without doing so, SEO will have poor results, and as such it leads people to believe SEO is dying, when in reality it is the reverse. As long as Google remains a dominant stronghold for users to search their information needs, SEO will remain one of the most essential and important foundational tools for websites to utilize. In this sense, SEO has been more alive than ever.
The need for adaptability
The most important trend we can notice about SEO ever since the popular use of search engines became prevalent is the underlying concept of evolution. Technology is changing, and boy is it changing fast. The introduction of new technologies not limited to certain boundaries is changing the way that we search the internet.
But that is what’s important; the fact that we are still searching the internet. The ever changing technological environment is not killing SEO but it is evolving it. It is requiring us to adapt with the trends and patterns that have been brought about, and change our tactics and strategies accordingly in order to address the new methods of search engine use that consumers have engaged themselves in with.
Quality content that appeals to the audience is what drives the most successful SEO consultants in the world today. It is important to understand why the search engine user searched what they did, and the motivation behind it. Similarly, it is just as important to recognize the context of that search, such as what kind of individual, where, when and with what device.
This is of particular importance, because if excellent SEO is going to take place, it is dependent on accurate information.
The death of the old
With such a plethora of information, it is then necessary to scrutinize the website and seriously answer whether the content available is suitable enough in both depth and range to be able to satisfy the needs of the person using the search engine. These modern requirements of SEO truly demonstrate that it is simply not enough anymore to rely on age-old tricks and simple methods that were once considered supreme in the SEO past.
These old methods must be used in combination with new ones, and if done successfully, you’ll see excellent SEO with on par results.
In the greatest of senses, the SEO of the past is dead. The old tricks and quick methods that could be used in the past have been recognized and limited.
But, if you find yourself as an SEO company focusing on originality and quality, capitalizing on genuine content that can’t be beat, then you will find that SEO is stronger than ever. SEO is still more than capable of pushing business rankings to the top page in Google search results.
A modern take at SEO
Ultimately, social media and SEO work best together. When in conjunction, they become powerful tools that are able to direct significant amounts of traffic to your websites. With so many devices searching for so much information as fast as possible, the real winners of tomorrow’s Internet are the brands, entrepreneurs, and people able to make the best content available the quickest.
Old SEO may be dead, but modern SEO is the inclusion of all the techniques that have been mentioned in this blog, with particular emphasis on quality content writing in order to genuinely rank businesses in modern search engine, and that’s why SEO is more alive than ever.
Sarah is the head of guest posts outreach and an SEO expert. Her interests are search engine optimisation, social media and brand management.