Despite the News, SEO is Not Dead

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For years now, search engine marketers have been predicting the death of SEO. I’m not sure why we’re all so quick to denounce our livelihoods, and I’m also not sure I agree with the sentiment.

  • SEO is Dead (2006): Stoney deGeyter predicts that SEO-only providers would be “dead” by 2010.
  • SEO is Dead. Long Live, er, the Other SEO (2007): Mike Grehan addresses the introduction of universal search and the need to redefine SEO to emphasize the importance of improved online marketing.
  • SEO Has No Future (2008): Shoemoney discusses the future of social voting as SEO tactics sometimes overlap with spammy behavior.
  • 2010: The Year SEO Isn’t Important Anymore? (2009): Robert Scoble concludes that search engine marketing should be renamed to “online marketing” to infer a more holistic approach to increasing online visibility.

So… is SEO dead or what? The answer is no, no it is not dead. It is simply evolving. Although the definition varies and may need to be updated, the concept remains the same: improving a website’s online presence in an organic manner.  And while effective “tactics” surrounding SEO are ever changing, the fundamentals remain the same: provide useful content, present it in a functional way and you’ll be rewarded with better search engine visibility.

The practice of search engine optimization is dynamic in its nature so will never stay the same. The effectiveness of more tactical efforts like optimizing your title tags will undoubtedly have less and less of an impact as we’ve seen over the past few years. The landscape is constantly evolving as new technologies emerge and algorithms become more sophisticated. However the end goal is always the same, matching searchers with their interests and needs.

The majority of the focus, as always, should be on providing great content and making that as accessible as possible – whether that be from a search engine, from social media or even directly on the site.

  • Site architecture and authority for better search engine visibility. I’ve talked about this a few times before, as you can’t optimize cardboard. A sound site architecture will lend itself to a structure that will naturally make sense for optimal keyword placement, “good URLs” (i.e. not rife with duplicate content or too many parameters), and content that is easily accessible to both users and search engines. A solid amount of useful, informative and unique information will build trust with users and help to establish your site as an authority. Great content also creates better opportunities for social sharing and natural link acquisition.
  • Social media for new ways of information retrieval. Shoemoney was right on in 2008 with his prediction of a transition to a system more focused on the concept of “social voting”. With the announcement of Facebook Open Graph you can surely expect greater engagement and sharing of information in new ways. Yet more incentive to create valuable content for your website.
  • Using analytics to mold your content strategy and make it more accessible. As analytics platforms are becoming more robust, understanding user behavior to shape your approach for content creation is critical. Whether it is determining what type of content is resonating, or how users are finding it once on your site. Knowing what type of content to create increase search engine traffic and information sharing opportunities.

Again, SEO tactics and approaches may change but the basic tenants remain the same. SEO is not dead, but a constantly developing process in which search engines strive to provide the most useful information to users, wherever they may be online.

Rachel Freeman

Rachel Freeman

Rachel Freeman works for the Jive Software, the pioneer and leading provider of social business solutions. She has expertise in all aspects of search engine... Read Full Bio
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  • le-juge

    Very Good article, it describe very well the Situation in SEO.

    One more reason why SEO won't die soon is that despite all education we have done to the world, there are many people and especially web developer and project managers who have no clue of what SEO is about.

  • geek

    Very good article, I am still struggling to optimize my blog to get best results.

  • aleshna

    SEO is not dead. SEO is important in making your site put to the list of the top rank.

  • Auckland Telemarketing

    Yeah, I hate when people say 'this' or 'that' is dead… pretty much everything evolves…. the only way SEO will die is if the world explodes.

  • andrew

    SEO will never die because it plays a very important role. People will do their best to optimize websites. And yes, I agree, SEO is evolving, continuing to become more helpful and effective.

  • Stoney deGeyter

    I think I was pretty right on back in 2006. Very little SEO is strictly manipulating a page. For SEO to be successful they have to incorporate off-page factors such as link building, and social media. Add in analytics and usability, both of which are needed within SEO, that makes your traditional SEO firm, not so traditional… and much more of a marketing firm.

    • Rachel Andersen

      I agree Stoney, you were very specific in your prediction re: “seo-only providers” with a much more holistic approach than most in 2006…

  • MrVen

    SEO never deads as far as search engines are alive. But its true that SEO changes towards technology, one such techology is social media !

  • miss_zed

    yes – it certainly won't die out. Especially not with the internet becoming more and more central marketing channel – and SEO is in the heart of it. Yes, it will evolve – and hopefully it will become more understood as 'standard online marketing'. What might though change and is an interesting question is – will it be possible to practice and consult on SEO only as an agency, or will it become more necessary to provide a comprehensive online marketing view? I.e. – specialised versus integrated agency?

  • wildnetseo

    SEO is never dead. SEO is very helpful for online marketing / internet marketing in global market and now becomes very challenging to get the top ranking… Due to this Google changes their algorithm on random basis and now a days SMO's play a very vital role for SEO….

  • Danielle Worster

    I think SEO and web analytics are always going to be around in some form- whose website doesn't need tweaking and keeping updated to readers'/customers'/donors' needs and wants? I did find your list of who proclaimed SEO dead and when rather amusing. I don't doubt that most casual bloggers are aware of the beneficial impact of links/comments/trackbacks etc- perhaps the mission of SEO will change to retrain most people to be even more aware of best practices.

  • kittu

    firstly, I will never read a article which says, SEO is DEAD. because as a SEO Analyst myself, I know better. And Rachel put it well, SEO is evolving.

    SEO cant die for 3 simple reasons: not everybody can afford ppc marketing, It takes months & months to master the art of social media & no website starts off with 1M visitor. The day the social medium becomes full of so called brands- visitors will stop trusting the social media altogether. Why would a visitor click on the limited no of ppc ads when there are hundreds & thousands of organizations competing in organic results.

    “Shoemoney discusses the future of social voting as SEO tactics sometimes overlap with spammy behavior. ” Well, so do social media marketing tactics. Thousands of brands on twitter tweeting to death every 2 seconds.. if you know what i mean!!! Any marketing means that will evolve will eventually turn spammy with millions of brands competing to be No#1.

    At the end of the day, all your SEO/SEM/SMM efforts will backfire if you have a pathetic product & service at hand.

    The article title is highly misleading, “Despite the news…..” 4 articles do not make any news. But then again, Rachel has created a good- eye catching Title 😛

  • Directory Submission

    I think off page SEO has become a very very profitable business and something that every webpage owner must take seriously and invest time and money in. On page SEO can be quite a difficult task but can be done in a day at most, off page SEO takes months of hard work.

  • Aharon

    Evolving is the right word.

  • ecommerce software

    Well, for me, SEO techniques allows you to achieve a Top 10 ranking for FREE, without needing to pay for advertising or to have your site “reviewed”.

  • The Free SEO Guide

    I dont think SEO is something that can ever die. It is however something that will constantly change, as search engines tweak their algorithms and new forms of online media emerge. Yet one has to wonder how much the basics can morph – keywords, quality content, proper site architecture and links.

  • Rallic Finn

    SEO is just becoming ruled and more difficult to handle instead of dying, as is said in Google's SEO report card, Google want to supply a good model for outside webmasters and companies.

  • Rallic Finn

    SEO is just becoming ruled and more difficult to handle instead of dying, as is said in Google's SEO report card, Google want to supply a good model for outside webmasters and companies.