Is SEO still relevant?

Is SEO still relevant today? This is one of the most frequent questions asked over the years, leaving marketers and business owners wondering whether search engine optimisation is still relevant. Some people go as far as thinking SEO is dead.

HAS SEO EVENTUALLY LOST ITS IMPORTANCE?

If you jump onto Google and search “is SEO still important” you will see a ton of results geared towards that very question. It has become a yearly topic that people feel the need to generate content about.

To answer the question more directly, no, SEO hasn’t lost its importance. Like everything, over time it has changed and evolved. Due to this, we are forced to change our tactic, because the search engines change how they index content and information.

In the next section, we will dive into how this question is answered with certainty. We will also provide some insight into what makes this such a popular question, as well as provide a couple of tips for you to stay on track of your SEO efforts.

WHY IS SEO STILL IMPORTANT?

To answer that question, we need to look at what search engine optimization is. According to a Google search: SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.

This sounds just about right. The goal of any SEO specialist is to ensure that your website comes up in the top of a search result. This search result doesn’t just mean a Google search or a Bing search but any search engine. This could be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and many more platforms that have a search function.

In short, to say that SEO is not relevant is to say that people no longer search on the internet for content or information.

Some search-related facts:

  • According to The SEO Tribunal, Google receives over 63 000 searches per second per day. This means that over 2 trillion searches are conducted per year.
  • According to Quora, nearly 4.6 billion pieces of content are produced every day. To make that a little more palatable, 92 000 new articles published daily and 83 000 blog posts published every hour.
  • Just those two facts touch on why SEO is not dead. If so many people are conducting searches across various platforms, we need to be able to help them find the answer. This is what SEO is supposed to do. It optimises content to help users find it when they search. As shown, each article, blog post or piece of content published ends up competing with each other for eyeballs. Again, this where SEO comes in.

WHY IS THE DEBATE STILL ONGOING?

Simply put, it’s because portions of SEO fade away. When search engines change algorithms or make changes to certain rules, they generally eliminate a tactic that is used to push a site higher up in rankings. Let’s have a look at these tactics that have fallen away or changed.

LINK BUILDING

Link Building is the process of getting other websites to link back to your site. This is one of many tactics used in SEO because links are a signal to search engines that your site is a quality resource.

This changed and well, pretty much fizzled out completely. Now, we can’t rush out and create a host of links, that will do more harm than good. We need to earn these links by creating really good content. We can still do outreach to other sites to ask them for a link but link building at mass has died. It is about link earning (this when websites link to you on their own without you asking for it. It is a signal to say that your content is quality) and ensuring that links offer value.

RANKINGS

Companies are still set on ranking number one for their search terms. This is no longer the be-all and end-all. Why? Because we need to focus on relevant traffic that converts (to sales, enquiries, bookings, etc.).

If you rank number one and don’t get traffic to your site what’s the point right? Or if you do get traffic to your site but have a high bounce rate, you are going to lose that ranking because Google deems your content to be irrelevant to the search being performed.

The goal, in short, is to help get your site found by the target audience and not just anyone. The last thing you want is to have all this traffic but no conversions. At the end of the day, it is all about quality over quantity.

KEYWORD STUFFING

Keyword stuffing was a tactic used to cram as many keywords into your content as possible. Since search engines are designed to accept keywords as input, it used to be a popular way to increase rankings. Today, keyword stuffing will actually negatively impact your rankings and possibly even cause your content to be removed from search listings entirely.

Google and other search engines quickly realised that this tactic negatively affected content as a whole. As soon as this was changed the tactic became futile. Over time, the quality of content is aimed at humans and not bots.

THE BIGGER THE SITE, THE BETTER

This, for the most part, was just a myth that has probably been busted more times than we can count. People often thought that the bigger your website is, the bigger the ranking will be. This, in turn, left the internet filled with massive sites with a large amount of content that didn’t add any value. More often than not, the content was the same.

Google doesn’t rank a website, they rank pages within the website. Yes, a website helps but rather think of it as an ecosystem. You can have a smaller site that offers high-quality content, an optimized structure and follows all the best practices. It can rank really well and deliver superb results. Quality over quantity is the golden rule.

Most of the above-mentioned tactics have become obsolete or changed significantly as search engines evolve. For the most part, this is what sparks the yearly wave of debate around whether or SEO is relevant or not.

This is because companies use these old tactics as SEO but don’t remember that SEO is a set of multiple tactics and methods, which is constantly evolving. It also isn’t a one size fits all strategy. From experience, what works on site X may not work on-site Y. Yes, the basics may but the overall strategy won’t.

IF SEO HASN’T DRAWN TO A CLOSE, WHAT DO WE NEED TO SUCCEED?

With that all said and done, where do we need to focus our efforts on the modern version of SEO? That’s probably the question you are asking yourself right? Let’s take a look at a couple of things that we need to shift our focus towards.

REMEMBERING THAT SEO IS A MARATHON NOT A SPRINT

SEO takes time to deliver great results, it doesn’t just happen overnight. We often hear about the expectation regarding seeing immediate results but it doesn’t happen that way.

It is like compounding interest, yes you do see the money value grow but it isn’t until a few months, or a year later, do you truly see the return on investment. We need to be constantly working at it to see the real results and improvements in search engine ranking.

KEYWORD TOPICS OVER KEYWORDS

For the longest time, SEO was about keywords. An example of this would be targeting a car for sale as the keyword. We didn’t go beyond that as a focus for our content, link building and overall SEO strategy.

Instead of focusing on the keyword, we look at the topic of cars for sale. This means that we have the main topic of ‘buy a car’. We then break it down into the specifics of buying a car and then we talk about the specific car or cars that we are targeting. The performance then looks at the topic as a whole instead of the keyword.

WRITING FOR SEARCH ENGINES

We know this may seem a little counter-intuitive considering that we often say that we need to create content for the person and not Google or Bing. This remains true. When it comes to writing content for search engines, we talk about structuring content to take advantage of the new additions to search engines.

The “answer box” would be a very good example of this. An “answer box” is a SERP feature, usually displayed in a light-grey box, that occurs above the organic results (left column) and tries to directly answer a question. Our content needs to be structured and optimized in a manner that would allow Google to use it for the answer box or position zero. In the coming articles, we will break down some key tactics that you could use to get your content ranking with these features.

An example of an answer box:

We also need to use search engines to determine the topic for the articles that we need to write about. For instance, if you perform a search relating to what you offer or want to be found for, you will see at the bottom page of your search result, a number of searches relating to your topic. These are content opportunities that you can take advantage of.

An example of a search result:

There are a host of examples in relation to this which we will expand on in future articles as part of our strategy section.

SO, WHAT’S THE VERDICT?

In closing, we can see that SEO is still very much relevant. Not by a long shot. In fact, we would say that over the last year SEO has become vitally important. We say this because Google has made so many changes to how they display the information as well as having the focus of users not leaving the search engine but being able to perform all the required actions on the results page.

For example, they want you to book a flight, a hotel and hire a car without even leaving the search engine. If you want your site to be displayed at the top of these search engines, SEO will get you there. Google still needs to index the content and the brand in order to achieve this and SEO is the only way to get there.

Furthermore, Google has made several changes to the ad listings on the results page where it is almost impossible to differentiate between an ad and an organic result. We know that SEO is generally the better converter but Google makes money from ads. Again, SEO is the key to keep your site ranking well and in turn growing in leads, sales and traffic.

SEO isn’t dead. Not at all. It is just different from what it used to be. It is just as, if not more important to your brand and site than ever before.

If your business is looking to make use of SEO as a powerful marketing and lead generation tool, we’re here to help. Contact us to see how we can help grow your business.

Don't forget to share this post!
About
Having been established in 2005, in Cape Town, South Africa, Elemental is primarily focused on providing web development services and digital marketing campaigns.