As someone even remotely related to the SEO industry, you know that trends come and go. Some ways to effectively drive and boost traffic may work one day and fail the next. Some things that attract search engines under one model might be detrimental in the next. You’ve probably also heard SEO as a whole is referred to as a dying trend; something that’s bound to fail.
Sure, certain aspects of the industry may change and evolve into something new altogether, but SEO as a whole is here to stay, regardless of the naysayers who like to stir up controversy by claiming otherwise. Providing you’re willing to adapt, there’s no reason your own business or practice cannot grow in the long term with a solid SEO strategy in place.
In fact, most SEO skepticism is rooted in a futile debate involving ‘black hat vs. white hat’ tactics. Essentially, whenever Google updates their algorithm to crack down on the spam/trickster side of SEO, ripples vibrate throughout the hive-mind and everyone exaggerates the update as the final culling blade.
Ignore the hive-mind. That’s my best piece of advice. Instead, look at what the creator of the largest search engine in the world is sending to our inbox:
This was sent on February 13, 2014. Google’s Webmaster Blog is showing us how to differentiate infinite scrolling pages from parallax to allow the Googlebot to crawl pages without getting shortsighted by duplicate content. This is an advanced level SEO recommendation. This alone should be enough proof to dispel any myths of SEO fatality.
Read on to discover five more reasons why the pillars of SEO will never fall:
1. SEO is a Broad Term
SEO isn’t a single method of driving traffic to a website; instead, it’s a network of activities that work together to accomplish a single end result. Search Engine Land defines search engine optimization as the process of getting traffic from the “free,” “organic,” “editorial” or “natural” listings on search engines.
It’s not about getting traffic on a single webpage. It’s not about using one single method to increase rankings. It’s something so much more than that. SEO is about doing all that we can to impress search engines. We need to show them:
- Important people respect us (authority links)
- We are very organized (onsite SEO optimization)
- We are timely and relevant (registered as a ‘news’ source + quality content + social signals)
- We are authoritative (mentions + links from .edus, .govs, .orgs)
- We are creative (content marketing)
- We have faces (Google+ authorship)
- We earn traffic and referrals (inbound marketing)
- We offer impressive services/products (rich snippets for ratings/images/descriptions/reviews)
And this is just scratching the surface. There are over 200 ranking factors (via the awesome Brian Dean) and SEO efforts aim to appeal to as many as possible.
2. Internet Users are Drawn to “Natural” Content
Yes, most high ranking search results are the result of SEO or advertising of some sort, but if people knew that, they’d look at the content differently. Research has shown that users experience a certain level of irritation when they feel like they’re being bombarded with advertisements. It’s why web platforms allow designers to pay to opt out of having to display them and why social networks allow users to hide advertisements in their news streams.
Search engines are no different. Yes, most of the top results have paid advertising behind them in one way or another, but SEO cloaks that advertising appealing to the idea of “natural” content and results. It’s what users want; this means it will not disappear.
3. The Search is an Essential Aspect of Online Use
People don’t go online solely to access social networks; though it is the number one activity on the web. They also go online to look for answers, news, local businesses, products and services. Because of this, businesses must cater to search engines. The Internet is filled with important information and with people looking for it. This critical aspect of SEO means that it’s a necessary aspect of navigating the online world.
Does the term ‘hierarchy’ ring any bells?
Without proper onsite SEO, eCommerce sites would be like a dingy floating aimlessly. Even small and medium sized businesses can practice onsite SEO with little technical skills. For example:
As a forklift dealer, McCall Handling sticks to proper onsite SEO and eCommerce hierarchy. For any digital store, this is the bread and butter of product organization. Basically, they have categorized all products by level of 2. This means that every product or page is no more than 2 clicks away. If we click through one of the main categories from the homepage, we can go another level deeper.
For Googlebot, this makes crawling and ordering a seamless process – something that would not be possible without SEO.
4. It Has Become Its Own Industry
People need to be found online. Businesses have an inherent need to drive traffic to their own sites instead of letting it up to chance or to the competition. They’re willing to pay to make this happen. This is a trend based on centuries of research – first “in person” and now “online.”
The life-force of SEO as an industry beats in sync with the life-force of search engines. If you can imagine an internet without search engines, then you might be able to imagine a world without SEO. Though I would counter; an evolved form of SEO would evolve if search engines died off – something along the lines of UX Optimization or legacy web optimization would be the new standard.
But let’s snap back to reality.
There are certain ‘arms’ of a business that indirectly influence SEO. Security, for example, such as SSL certificates make visitors feel safe browsing a website, which may directly increase time-on-site, sales, or referrals. Similar safety measures, such as security compliance ensure another branch of ‘visitor peace of mind’ is achieved. Sending hand-written thank you cards to verified shoppers might encourage them to write a blog post about it. If you see where I’m going with this, you realize there are many marketing/branding/advertising tactics that indirectly impact SEO. As we might assume, they can be done in the name of SEO just as easily (but for a stronger impact).
5. Content Marketing Cannot Solely Fill the Void
With the rise in authorship tags and authoritative content, many experts argue that quality content will make SEO obsolete. While it sounds good in theory, it’s just not possible. Content marketing cannot fill the void that a lack of SEO would create.
Yes, relevant content can increase page rankings; but there’s a catch. For those page rankings to matter at all, a search has to take place. For a search to take place and to be successful, some form of SEO must be driving the content marketing campaign. The former cannot exist without the latter. The two ideas feed off each other and depend upon one another for results.
While the heated debate over whether SEO is dying or thriving will continue long into the future, when you take a step back to consider these basic pillars of the practice and industry, it becomes apparent that the practice is more elastic than a rubber band. SEOs are trained to be hyper-adaptive, thus SEO as an industry is hyper-adaptive.