Anyone who frequents online forums or is on any online marketing lists has heard the slogan “SEO is dead“. Sometimes it’s posed as a question: “Is SEO dead?”
Some savvy marketers have created headlines making this proclamation in order to sell expensive courses. After all, if SEO no longer works, marketers must find something to replace it. But is there any truth to this? Is SEO dead, dying or on its way to becoming irrelevant? In this article, I will address these questions and explain why SEO is likely to last for as long as the Internet itself.
Why some people claim SEO is dead?
What is the source of these rumors? People have various motives for making this claim. These include:
Victims of Panda & Penguin
People whose sites have been penalized by Google’s latest updates often conclude that SEO no longer works.
Advocates of Paid Advertising
For some marketers, SEO is just too complicated and they prefer the simplicity of paid advertising.
Marketers generating hype
As I mentioned, “SEO is dead” makes for a catchy headline, especially if you are selling an Internet course. Once you get beneath the surface, however, it usually turns out that these marketers are simply offering some modified SEO tactics.
People who believe social media is replacing search engines
There is an argument that social media sites like Facebook will soon render search engines like Google obsolete. If search engines are no longer relevant, then SEO becomes pointless.
No matter why people may make this claim, it is an exaggerated version of the truth. While certain SEO tactics that were effective 5 years ago will get you into trouble now, that doesn’t mean that all SEO has become harmful!
The truth about SEO
As long as there are search engines, there will be a good reason to perform search engine optimization. Even though the rules may change, the search engines must still use some criteria for ranking sites. When you understand how this is done, you can approach SEO accordingly.
What about the notion that social media is overtaking traditional search engines? There is some truth to this, as Facebook now rivals Google as the world’s most popular website. Another top contender is YouTube (even though Google owns this, it can still be considered a good search engine alternative).
The fact that social media is now very popular, however, doesn’t mean that search engines will become obsolete anytime soon. As of now, Google is still the Number 1 website in the world. Equally to the point, Yahoo, MSN and Bing are still in the top 10. While social media may have taken some traffic away from search engines, the two are really not direct competitors. Even people who spend hours on Facebook and Twitter every day still use Google or other search engines when they want to look up something.
It can also be argued that social media has simply created another type of SEO. People are now learning how to optimize their Facebook pages, LinkedIn profiles and videos. While this may not be SEO in the traditional sense, many of the principles are the same. For example, to optimize a video you use keywords in the description field in a way similar to optimizing an article or blog post.
SEO practices to avoid
One thing is true – some approaches to SEO are dead. Or at least they pose the risk of getting you into trouble if you use them. What type of SEO practices should you stay away from in the post-Panda and Penguin world?
Using software to create autoblogs was effective for a short time, but these days you are likely to be penalized for using such content. Autoblogs generally contain articles and other content that is widely distributed and often not relevant to the site’s topic.
Low quality backlinks
These are inexpensive links that come from sites that are considered low quality by Google. While many people now know better than to trust such links, you will still see them advertised.
Overuse of keywords
Also known as keyword stuffing. You should use keywords in a natural way and not use them too often in an article.
Sites with thin or irrelevant content
Google now values high quality content more than ever. This means that a blog or website with little content is not going to be well ranked no matter what other SEO tricks you may use.
Sites with too many ads
This is another signal to the search engines that the site is low quality.
Safe and effective SEO tactics
Now let’s focus on SEO methods that still work despite Panda and Penguin.
- Focus on high quality links from relevant sites.
- Use plenty of original and valuable content. Content is more SEO friendly if it’s longer, at least 800 words.
- Optimize images with ALT tags.
- Keep your site visitor as well as search engine friendly. This means easy navigation and fast loading pages.
- Connect social media marketing with SEO. Make sure your social media profiles and posts link back to your website.
- Vary your anchor text. Search engines no longer like to see the same terms being used in anchor text.
While there is no doubt that SEO has changed quite a bit over the last few years, that certainly doesn’t mean that it’s dead. It’s crucial today to keep up with the latest changes made by Google and other search engines. This is how you can avoid falling victim the way many sites did after Panda and Penguin.
In general, the best way to optimize your site nowadays is to focus on providing as much value as possible to visitors. This includes factors such as the appearance and layout of the site and page loading time.
As long as there are search engines, there will be some type of search engine optimization. If you want to learn how to play this game successfully, you must keep up with the latest rules.