Is SEO Dead?
by Ryan Ragland
Is SEO Dead?
It’s 2018; what a time to be alive. We, as a society, walk around with a device in our hands or in our pockets that literally has the ability to access the entirety of human knowledge in the blink of an eye, yet the majority of what people know is wrong, or half right at best. It’s a huge problem in our society: bad information. Bad information is woven into the fabric of our modern communication channels (fake news).
People share content on social media; re-tweeting articles and infographics that have no factual basis or any corroborating data to support the information given. Plain and simple, it’s just bad information. Still, people believe it. They utilize what they see and hear to assist them in their day-to-day decision making; without validating or cross-referencing the information to any credible source.
The one that really gets me; SEO is dead.
Critics of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) say that if it is not dead now, it will be dead soon. This is simply not the case. The current circulation of information says that search engines are shifting away from traditional SEO, in order to focus on higher quality content. There is no shift away from traditional SEO; it will need to work side by side with good quality content from now on to compete for higher rankings in search engine results.
All of this simply means that the quality of the content, rather than solely the little details that aid in bad content, will aid in ranking better in search engine results. Those that believe the naysayers are wrong to trust that high-quality content is important, but not more important than proper SEO and that the two must work cohesively to provide quality content that will rank high.
Why SEO Is More Important Now Than Ever.
As of late, there has been a lot of controversy around whether or not SEO is still an important part of the business’s efforts for marketing online. Some people even go as far as to say that SEO is less effective now than it has ever been, it’s irrelevant, or that it is even completely dead. Those who observe online marketing tactics say that it is not SEO, but it is high-quality content that brings in viewers these days. Of course, this topic is more complex than that simple statement.
Its not clear-cut in black-and-white, but a gray area in which both SEO and high-quality content must exist together in harmony for the brand to make its mark in search results. These are a few reasons why SEO is holding its place in importance regarding web visibility.
Major Search Engines are Changing for the Better
In the years past, Google’s shaky algorithm allowed for SEO practices that are not totally acceptable. This would be things like spamming, keyword stuffing, and low-quality content with many links. The new algorithm for search engines has improved upon the search rankings. Now, keyword stuffing will not move a website to the front page of the search results, Google will actually penalize a website that keyword stuffs because it does not offer real value to the searchers.
With the Penguin and Panda updates, Google got rid of a lot of the artificial page rankings and keyword stuffing, and online searchers have shown their happiness about this. These updates have made high-quality content vital, urging relevant context and semantics within the content.
These changes are what make SEO have greater importance now. The modifications make sure that websites are using proper SEO practices within the content. Website owners should think of ways to use the proper SEO practices in the content, as well as keeping their team up-to-date with SEO trends in the industry. These two things are what drives content to first page results in a search engine.
The cheap tricks that were once used will now hold penalties for those who abuse them. Search engines are doing this to ensure that their users are receiving only the best and most accurate search results first, rather than the hundreds of spam pieces.
SEO Can Never Be OverLooked
It is no surprise that many large companies report that they receive more search inquiries from mobile devices rather than from desktops. As this gets even more prevalent, penalties are arising for websites that do not have a mobile version that must not only exist but must provide a great user experience. This is a dramatic change from the way that consumers have searched for information even just as recently as 10 years ago. Now websites must meet different standards if they want their content to be discovered through Google’s search engine.
This includes making changes to the company’s website so that it will show a mobile-friendly version for those who search from their phone or tablet. There are so many aspects that influence the way Google shows mobile search results, and page load time is one of them. When you take the time to optimize a page to load in a quicker way, it will have a positive impact on the website’s ranking for mobile users. This will keep the website at the forefront for the plethora of the population that is cruising the internet using only their phones.
Search Engines Process Real Speech Patterns
What many people might not realize is that another way to gain SEO success in the middle of the mobile age is the need for bringing in real speech patterns into the long and short-tail keywords. Researchers say that as time progresses, more and more people are moving toward voice search options when accessible, and incorporating the real speech patterns into the keywords.
When websites incorporate these real speech patterns into their own keywords, this allows for those who search by voice to search with phrases that are spoken and receive accurate results. These natural patterns of speech are growing more vital to SEO and will only get more prevalent as mobile searchability becomes more widespread. One example of this may be when someone is searching for a restaurant in their city.
When typing in a search, they may use the search phrase “best Italian restaurant Chicago”. If they are using a voice search on a mobile device, they would speak something that is more along the lines of “Chicago’s best Italian Restaurant”. Though the difference is very slight, it is still there and will affect the way that the search engine displays results. This is the reason that keywords (both long and short) will need to start mimicking real speech patterns.
SEO in Relation to the User Experience
The user experience is the peak of what is important when it comes to mobile searching. Search engines want the websites to load quickly, they want them to navigate easily, and they want them to be valued by the searchers. Providing an amazing user experience is the most important thing that contributes to ranking at the top in this new age of mobile searches. This great user experience is seen as providing searchers with the information that they want to find, in just a short amount of time.
SEO is essential to the user experience. Good SEO practices allow users to find, access and absorb higher quality content much easier—now more than ever. Another thing that is important for not only SEO but for the user experience, is an XML sitemap. When using sitemaps this means nonstop communication with search engines, they are exchanging information on what the website contains in terms of content. For website visitors, sitemaps lead to easier web crawling. The content on the website is easier to sort through and organize, contributing to quicker search experiences.
WHAT ARE SEARCH ENGINES SAYING ABOUT SEO?
Many of the widely known search engines offer advice on search engine optimization through their own websites and blogs. Their own authorities on the subject are not condemning the use of SEO practices, rather they are giving advice on how to properly utilize it. The important thing to remember is that the old way of using SEO might be dead, while SEO itself is alive and well, likely never leaving. These search engine companies realize that the way users interact with the internet is changing, and they are in tune with exactly the way that it is changing.
It is beneficial for the search engine companies to produce the most accurate results for their users, so they would likely not ever steer website creators in the wrong direction. If a user notices that a specific search engine is not producing results that are helpful to them, they will see that this search engine is not taking responsibility for which results are showing up.
When a user sees that a search engine consistently produces results that are accurate and valuable in a swift manner, the user will return to this search engine. This is the incentive that search engines have to provide guidance to web creators about what type of content they are creating and how they manipulate the SEO to best fit.
Using Authoritative Content in Addition to SEO
SEO isn’t the only thing that drives up content in the search engine results page, as mentioned before it works together with high-quality content. How would one make sure that the content they are producing is high quality and authoritative? Do research as though you are investigating the topic, and be not only knowledgeable about it, but passionate as well. Produce original content—though it may seem like everything has been done already, approach a common idea with a different perspective, or find something totally original. Take the time to produce well-written content, it really pays off.
When the content is finished, share it with the relevant audience. Overall, these tips will help to produce quality content, which is what should be taking place anyway. Pairing this with the correct SEO strategies will ensure that the content is shown high in a search results page.
SEO Mistakes That Should Be Avoided
As mentioned previously, SEO is not dead but it should be approached differently from now on with the change in algorithms. Shallow content should be mixed—it is not enough now to only be relevant, it must be valuable to the user as well. Cloaking, a form of baiting and switching, is one of the worst things to do and is banned by Google. This is when a search engine will see a different version of a website than what a human user would see. Very sketchy. Obviously, as mentioned before, keyword stuffing—this is one of the oldest and widest used techniques, consisting of the keyword to be used an extreme amount of times in the content. Along the lines of keyword stuffing is hiding text. Wouldn’t that be the next logical step? Wrong—absolutely do not do this, it is spamming the search engine.
Many of these actions actually hold penalties if the user is caught with them on their website. Please do keep in mind that while these are the most important SEO mistakes to avoid, it does not necessarily mean that SEO is dying. Search engines just don’t want their results filled up with content that is not useful to their users, content that is nonsense, or content that holds no value. These pieces are mostly filler and do not hold much value to users or search engines at all.
SEO is alive and kicking! The old tricks of SEO and the way that search engines process their results are constantly changing but keywords and SEO still remain important. Solid SEO practices are now more important than they have ever been in regards to getting ranked in search engine results. These practices will make sure that your brand is being found organically and gaining notoriety and the industry is still an important piece to the way that Google will evaluate and rank a website. All in all, the most important thing to remember is that you must not only create valuable content, but it should be high-quality and will be published with solid SEO practices. It is no longer enough to pump out content for quantity, the content must be of great quality.
Major search engines are becoming privy to the tricks that some websites use to get their content to the front page of a search engine, but these tricks are just that—tricks. They are absolutely frowned upon and when content is of the best quality, it is actually not necessary to do anything like keyword stuffing or hiding text, the content is worthy of search engine results all on its own. Search engine optimization is not dead and will never be dead—it is just extremely important that those that focus on search engine optimization understand exactly how and why it is changing, and what exactly they need to do in order to keep up with the new rules as to not be penalized.
As long as search engines exist, SEO will as well. Long live the algorithm.
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