First of all, if something is constantly said to have died consistently over the last decade then it is alive.
No! SEO is not dead.
Table of Contents
SEO Is Dead?
Google search algorithms undergo frequent updates as a result, the clicks on websites are consistently going down and SEO rankings are affected.
So does that mean SEO is Dead?
Here is the fact:
Over 5.6 billion searches are made on Google which will mean about 2 trillion searches every year.
Despite the number of searches, there are roughly a billion blogs on the web containing content on popular topics.
Take for example, if you search for a long-tail phrase such as, “what is digital marketing”, there are 11,300 global searches a month and a whopping 665,000 pieces of content trying to answer that question.
That’s a lot of content in comparison to the search volume, so there’s an increasing trend of content being produced being higher than search demand however, there are still search phrases with more search volume than content.
In addition, Google is turning into an answer engine where it is trying to answer people’s questions directly without having to click on a website.
According to Dejan SEO, they saw CTRs reduce largely when Google started answering questions.
This has become so common that the traffic percentage Google drives to organic listings (SEO results) is on the decrease over time.
Now imagine the possibility of your website coming up on the #1 spot on Google SERP.
This is the reason people began to think SEO is dead. However, this assumption is completely the opposite.
SEO is not dead; SEO is evolving
“SEO is all about discoverability. That’s what it sells. And people have always valued discoverability. Even if search engines change to the point that we don’t even recognize them, there’ll still be some form of SEO.”
Owing to the constant updates to the Google search algorithm, SEO keeps evolving. Amidst the many changes Google search engine’s algorithms have been through, here are the major ones in recent years.
- Panda – This was first established in February 2011 and was developed to get rid of the black hat SEO tactics and web spam. Panda focused on quality and user experience.
- Hummingbird – revealed in August 2013, Hummingbird improved the speed and preciseness of the search engine’s core algorithm anticipating the increase in mobile search.
- RankBrain – This was released in October 2015, Rank brain used machine learning to give answers to ambiguous queries by integrating artificial intelligence(AI).
- BERT – First released in November 2018 and an update was released in December 2019, helping Google understand natural language better.
- Vicinity – This was instituted in December 2021, and this was one of Google’s biggest local search updates in five years. Vicinity uses proximity targeting as a ranking factor, local businesses are weighted more heavily in query results.
Each of these updates revolutionized the way Google works, they each required SEO professionals to rethink their strategy and tweak it to provide the results needed.
The Rise of AI
For the purpose of SEO, AI means gathering and analyzing information on content, user behaviours, citations, and patterns, and then using that information to create new rankings factors that are more likely to answer user queries accurately.
We will examine two identifiable trends of AI, which include machine learning and natural language.
Machine learning just like it sounds means machines that are learning.
In the earlier days, computers used unique languages which were different from the language humans use. As a result of this, there was always a disconnect between user intent and what search engines delivered.
One of the most important factors machine learning uses to determine website ranking is the other trend – natural language which means the language users speak.
As earlier mentioned, nearly a decade ago Google had the foresight about mobile search being the increasing trend, in anticipation of what this would mean for search, Hummingbird was developed to focus on understanding conversational speech.
RankBrain built upon this, moving Google away from a search engine that follows the links between concepts to seeing the concepts they represent.
This took the search engine away from merely matching keywords in a query with content to determining user intent and bringing results that are more fitting to the search.
Also, Google is now providing answers to questions directly and suggesting related questions as well as answers. This has given rise to what is now known as zero-click searches which are searches that only end on the SERPs without requiring a click to another site.
5 Dead SEO Practices
- Focusing on building links thereby having more backlinks in content.
- Having more content on your website than quality content
- Filling up content with keywords
- Contents produced for search engines rather than people.
- Having duplicate contents written.
6 Living SEO Practices
- Your website should be responsive and quick to create a user-friendly experience
- Optimize your content to be voice search friendly.
- Have a schema markup to provide structured data for your content to have the intent your customers are searching for.
- Include FAQs in your content to stay connected to the intent of your customers.
- Rather than stuffing your content with keywords, let your content have rich detail on the topic covered.
- Improve your click-through rate (CTR)
One of the best SEO leaders once said “What’s good for the user is good for SEO (and Google).”
This assertion was true over a decade ago, and it’s even valid today.
Lily summed this up in an interview with Search Engine Journal
“Above all, a great SEO strategy should start by putting yourself in the user’s shoes and asking yourself if the content is truly valuable, the brand is trustworthy and the website is easy to use.”Lily Ray, SEO director at Path Interactive
The days when major search engines were primarily robotic, mathematical, and mechanical have changed though they satisfied search requests but didn’t give relevant answers to search intent.
However, now or say in the future user’s intent is the core of Google SERP and should be the focus of every content.
“Google will get even better at recognizing when a searcher is looking for expert advice and will rank those posts above articles written by content writers who are lacking E-A-T”.Marie Haynes, CEO of Marie Haynes Consulting Inc
So in the future expect SEO rankings to be informed by quality content consistent with user search intent.
As long as people still use search engines with organic results, SEO is not dead. However, there have been changes to how these results rank as Google continues to strive to answer search queries.
Is Google search dying?
Google search is not dying. With regular updates on Google’s algorithm, it will only keep serving more customers’ search intent.
What’s replacing SEO?
SEO is not going to be replaced but is gradually evolving into Answer Engine Optimization (AEO).