SEO is DEAD...How?
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization is Dead. Of course, as a concept for Marketing Sales, SEO is very much alive. Why?
What is SEO?
SEO is Search Engine Optimization. It is a concept which was developed in the early 2000s when various people learned how to game the Google Page Rank system. Some used valid approaches which came to be called White Hat SEO and others used approaches which were less-than-legitimate. These latter came to be called Black Hat SEO.
The Google Page Rank system was the early evaluation tool Google used to rank websites for inclusion in search results. It was the method which allowed Google to return far better search results than any other search engine. The way it worked was simple. Each website would be given a score based on various parameters. The better the score, the higher the website ranked.
Then, Google gave the website a Page Rank. The name was derived from its inventor, Larry Page, one of the two founders of Google. A Page Rank of 1 meant that the website would land at the top of search results against similar websites with lower ranks. If two websites with a Page Rank of 1 hit, these would rank according to the total score (which was unknown to the web masters).
Naturally, some people found ways to game the system, getting websites which did not really provide anything worthwhile to rank well. Google decided to do something about this and starting in 2011, the company started taking steps to end the Page Rank system.
The Death of SEO
From 2011 to 2016, Google implemented a series of changes to their search algorithm which eliminated Search Engine Optimization as a tool for websites to rank. Instead, the new system considered individual web pages and eliminated the once-ranked-always-ranked feature which exploded the SEO concept.
Google took into account elements like social media, hidden coding/hidden text (known as masking or cloaking), and how well the content on a page answered questions people were asking. They implemented an ever-expanding AI program, eliminated penalties for 404 Errors, and added features to make search more friendly to local businesses when applicable.
All-in-all, Google made SEO as it was known pre-2011, useless. However, many of the principles upon which SEO was based remained. For instance, the goal of Google has always been to provide the most useful search results possible. Many of the elements upon which Page Rank was based were effective at doing just that. So, Google kept these elements when making changes.
Thus, while SEO is Dead per se, the principles upon which SEO was founded largely remain.
The Birth of SEM
It has been said that for every death there is a birth. This is true with SEO. As SEO died, in its stead arose SEM, which means Search Engine Marketing. Although the term has not really caught on among general users of the Internet, most who engage in digital marketing know the term.
Search Engine Marketing is similar to Search Engine Optimization in that it applies proven principles to websites and pages in order to get them to appear higher in search results. However, it differs in approach.
SEO was a site-driven approach while SEM applies to individual pages. In the early days of SEO, a terrible website had no chance of ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs). Today, a terrible website with a couple of really good pages may still get traffic from the search engines. This is because the search engines consider individual pages rather than entire websites when deciding what to recommend.
Likewise, a website which has been "optimized" by an SEO company may still have pages which will never rank. In fact, if the old SEO techniques are applied to a website, but little attention is paid to making sure the individual pages are useful, few of the pages may appear in SERPs. Why?
Google gives the answer on its own website. Google states,
"Give visitors the information they're looking for
"Provide high-quality content on your pages, especially your homepage. This is the single most important thing to do. If your pages contain useful information, their content will attract many visitors and entice webmasters to link to your site. In creating a helpful, information-rich site, write pages that clearly and accurately describe your topic. Think about the words users would type to find your pages and include those words on your site."
The simple fact is, all a website needs to do to get search traffic is answer the questions readers are asking. Give them the information they seek. Do not hide anything and do your best to provide value. The more valuable the information you provide, the more Google will refer searchers to your pages.
Do not try to make it any more complicated than this. If anyone tells you they can guarantee your website to rank on top of search engines, beware. They may be selling you a load of something you do not want. Sure, there are proven ways to get these results and results OVERALL can be guaranteed...but a guarantee of a certain placement in SERPs is fraudulent at best. How so?
Google is Serious About Killing SEO for Good
Google saw how both the White Hat and Black Hat SEO schools were harming their search results. After being "gamed," for several years, the company fought back...and continues to fight back. One of the algorithm changes implemented was designed to keep on the lookout for shady actions. Note what Google says about these practices,
"Don't feel obligated to purchase a search engine optimization service. Some companies claim to "guarantee" high ranking for your site in Google's search results. While legitimate consulting firms can improve your site's flow and content, others employ deceptive tactics in an attempt to fool search engines. Be careful; if your domain is affiliated with one of these deceptive services, it could be banned from our index."
You may have heard of the infamous Google Black Hole. This is the reason we never guarantee results without first analyzing a website. Some websites cannot be saved. If Google has decided that the site owners employed deceptive tactics, that site is likely banned from the index. It is possible to get it back in the good graces of Google, but in our experience, it is better to simply abandon the URL as lost and build anew.
So, SEO...Dead or Alive?
The "term" SEO is alive and well. Many companies continue to use the term because it is so popular; it is easier to sell. Yet, SEO really IS dead.
At Oakes Writing, we prefer to educate customers rather than tell them something is still alive when we know otherwise.
We prefer to use either the proper term SEM or a better description of modern digital marketing, Inbound Marketing.
Inbound Marketing refers to Attraction Marketing, to the practice of giving readers exactly what they are looking for. It does not employ deceptive SEO practices and steers way clear of gimmicks. Instead, Inbound Marketing provides value for readers. Inbound Marketing provides exactly what Google recommends.
Rather than engage in expensive (and often useless) Link-Building campaigns, we use proven methods to grow websites in an organic, natural way. This keeps our clients off the Blacklist and thriving year after year.
It also lowers costs and increases ROI for our clients over time. In other words, Our clients experience true growth.
If you are interested in learning more, contact Oakes Writing Website Services at 337.660.4774 or complete the form on our Contact Page. We serve clients throughout Southwest Louisiana including Lake Charles, Sulphur, Westlake, DeQuincy, and Kinder.
And of course, if you enjoyed this post, please remember to share it with a friend or link to it on your website.