SEO is dead. Dead is SEO. Is SEO dead?
Whichever way you spin it, it’s the question on every marketer's tongue.
Google any variation of the above and you’ll find yourself inundated with over 60 million hits (yikes).
So, to save yourself the trouble of reading through these reams of (often dis-)information, we’re here to spell out some key reasons that SEO matters more than ever before.
Let’s dive in...
Whilst search engines exist, ranking matters
New technologies are certainly forcing new and exciting developments in SEO tactics.
But that doesn’t mean that optimising for search algorithms is redundant.
Though the means by which we interact with the digital world are likely to change at breakneck speed in the years to come, search engines will always be an important interface - both for humans and machines.
The fact therefore remains that you should be concerned about where you rank.
Sure, soon enough most aspects of our lives will be connected to the internet. In a few years, you may not need to physically search for information in the way you do now.
All that means, though, is that machines will be doing the searching for you.
The nuanced and lateral thinking that you, as a human, display when seeking out information will be lost. Machine-to-machine communication will be even more reliant on technical and contextual clues to determine how relevant your information is.
By 2024, there are estimated to be over 62 billion devices connected to the internet. That means more searches, more traffic, and more competition.
How you optimise for how searchable you are to those devices matters more than ever.
The rise of the long tail search
According to a recent study, 55% of teens and 41% of adults already use voice search instead of typed search. And that figure is growing day-by-day.
Technology in this space is also rapidly evolving.
Just 2 years ago, error rates in word recognition were over 20%. Now they are as low as 8%.
So, what does all this mean?
Voice search will radically change the way we look for and consume information, and this will have a transformational effect on SEO.
Voice search equates to conversational search. Content needs to correspond to the natural language phases of normal human speech if it’s going to appear.
This means that longtail search terms are going to be more important - and competitive - than ever before.
It’s no longer going to be enough to settle for ranking on the first page. Search assistants like Siri are increasingly moving to a providing their users with the one search result to rule them all.
How you adapt and optimise for this shift is vital.
The question is therefore not whether SEO is dead. But whether you’re prepared for the death of manual search.
Most content sucks
Already back in 2015, marketer Mark Schaeffer was talking about something called The Content Shock.
Sounds dramatic, and it kind of is.
Mark Schaeffer posited that there is drastically more content being produced now than can ever feasibly be consumed.
And he's right.
Search for almost anything imaginable, and you’ll find content on it.
So when people say that SEO is dead, what they often mean is that it’s increasingly difficult to rank highly for the keywords that matter to them.
But, we gotta break it to you.
Just because you can search for any information online, doesn’t mean you can find information worth reading.
Most of it is utter rubbish.
So, though many keywords are extremely competitive, even small businesses can rank well simply by investing in creating content that is highly valuable, useful, and provides something new.
As Google’s fancy algorithm gets even more fancy, it becomes better and better at rewarding sites with quality content with higher rankings.
What does that mean for you?
Well, even small sites without lots of backlinks, or even tons of content, have a golden opportunity.
This is the moment, if ever there was one, to create the best page on the internet for your niche.
Create incredibly valuable content that your audience genuinely cares about, and you’ll soon start seeing that SEO is very much alive.
Technology is in a rapid state of flux.
Seemingly in the blink of an eye, we’ve moved from a world of bulky, expensive desktops to having computers power everything from our calls, to our watches, to our homes.
Far from spelling the death of SEO, this new technological dawn signals the beginning of an increasingly important chapter for SEO.
We are connecting devices online at an exponential rate, and giving them the task of being our virtual assistants for various parts of our daily life.
This shift is making it more essential than ever before that all of our content is optimised for this new, machine-to-machine driven, world.
If you set yourself just one SEO goal, let it be this:
Find a topic that your audience cares about, and aim to create the very best page on the internet on it.
Chip away, topic by topic.
Over time, you’ll start seeing real gains with how you rank - both for human and machine searches.
Whatever you do, don’t believe the hype about SEO being dead.
It’s simply changing.
What matters is how you change with it.