Alright – enough of the gloom and doom predictions, analysis, perspectives, etc.
SEO is NOT dead.
While many digital marketing experts are starting 2014 off with predictions of search engine optimization coming to an end due to Google’s latest algorithm changes – it is not true. If you look at majority of blog posts and articles covering this topic, most predict the end of SEO. If not this year, soon enough.
Like all forms of marketing SEO is evolving, and to a certain extent actually remaining the same. Lets examine a few reasons why search engine optimization (or whatever you may want to label it now) is not actually “dead”.
Content Marketing Was Always a Part of SEO
For everyone who keeps saying “goodbye SEO, long live content marketing” – you are part right, and part wrong. You are right due to the fact that yes, content marketing has become a more widely-acknowledged and recently adapted marketing effort. The number of infographics on the world wide web (not to mention the number of blog posts!) has skyrocketed. Videos, GIFs, animations, slides…you name it, it is out in the web and that is great news. As I am sure majority of us prefer to follow our own path to purchase enlightenment as opposed to being bombarded by paid advertising (thank goodness for Ad-Blocker extension for browsers huh?). Organizations are realizing the potential of starting conversations as opposed to mass messaging.
On the flip side, you are wrong to say that this is the year of content marketing. What is content marketing? For those that started out in SEO when it just became the hot topic (at least those that knew how to properly optimize a web page) – they knew about content marketing, and importance of having a blog to share interesting content on. Not only did it provide links it also served as a way to use a human voice and reach the target audience beyond banner ads, or paid advertising. It allowed for interaction, sharing of visual content (if only limited to images a long, long time ago). Only recently has it gained traction as a popular marketing aspect of its own, but it has always been a part of a good SEO strategy.
SEO Is More Than Just Algorithms and Code
While technical aspects of a website do play a significant role in the rankings of a website, search engine optimization is much more than that. Once you finalize the technical aspect of your efforts there are lots of other features to look into. Your website has to be designed with the potential visitor in mind – not for the search engine. It needs to be adaptable to different technologies (responsive design), and most important of all – it needs to add value to a customer and the web world in general. Do you provide answers to burning questions? Do you solve problems in specific way? Do you entertain people? Give them motivation?
There has to be a purpose beyond keywords and trying to be “first” for a certain word that someone might search. Be helpful in a topic, in real life and online. Focus on more than solely on the technical aspects of SEO rankings – provide a complete audience experience and search engine rankings will follow.
Google Analytics Data Shows “Not Provided” – Keywords Are Therefore Extinct
Ok I will give you this one (somewhat): keywords on their own do not have the same weight as they use to. Not because the data is not available anymore, but because the new semantic algorithms, phrase focus (answering questions) and authority have shifted away from solely focusing on keywords. The focus now goes to giving authority to your web pages – authoring them to indicate a credible source, provide depth to your pages and posts to think beyond just keywords but to focus on topics (great content) that go beyond just writing spammy paragraphs stuffed full of keywords. It needs to be personal, credible and relevant.
Does this mean keywords are useless? Absolutely not – as long as there are search engines there will be keywords. Whether those keywords are written, spoken, long, short, or in a different language…they are still keywords and while it is hard to measure their success due to lack of data, it does not mean that they are irrelevant! We just have a new perspective (as does Google) on how a keyword search is defined and understood.
You can still measure SEO performance in alternative ways and turn your Google Analytics data into helpful insights by focusing on various metrics that are available.
SEO Is Branding
This is the most common misconception that business owners and marketing professionals have regarding SEO: it is NOT only a means to be first on the search engines, it is about building your brand. This means that you have to add personalization and emotion to your content, web-site, social media efforts and for that matter everything that you do on behalf of your brand. That is what separates average brands from good brands, in both traditional and digital marketing.
If you are not engaged in discussions with your potential audience members on forums, social media networks or other online venues (which of course, feeds back into SEO performance) you are focusing on just rankings. Focus on building a positive audience experience; be part of their world, engage with them, listen and participate.
Become great at creating memorable experiences, not just feeding targeted ranking data/information to search crawler bots.