For years now we’ve been seeing headlines about how SEO is dead or dying. They often raise points about how the old tactics of SEO are gone and what we do now ties in much closer to general marketing but for anyone keeping up with the industry, this should be nothing more than common knowledge. Much like technology hardware, the world of SEO moves quickly and yes, old technology can be considered “dead” very quickly… does that mean computers are dead too?
The Aim of Quality SEO Hasn’t Changed and It’s Not About To
Search engines apply updates daily and some of these mean minor changes to best practices for some of the more technical aspects (remember that Google SERP font change in 2014?) but if you’re doing it right, the overall direction and plan for your campaign should only ever change if your business does.
Search engines have 1 primary goal when it comes to organic search results – satisfying user intent fast. In their perfect world, we could blindly click the first result of any search and find exactly what we’re looking for immediately. Google’s knowledge graph is a perfect example of exactly this since we don’t even have to click a link anymore to find the info we’re looking for. We can even make calculations and conversions from right there in the SERPs, just like the screenshot below!
Always keep this in mind when planning your campaign because if you aren’t working towards the same goal, you’re going to lose out. Plain and simple.
The aim of any SEO campaign should be to provide relevant searchers with the solution to their intent as quickly as possible. If you don’t, somebody else will and sooner or later they’ll outrank you. This has been true since the beginning of search engines and it isn’t about to change, the application will simply evolve to keep up with new technology.
Annual Searches Are Growing Consistently
With this intention in mind, the only way SEO is about to die a fear-mongeringly dramatic death is if people stop searching and the data certainly doesn’t suggest an end to this in sight.
While search engines don’t really release clear data for us to see, this article from Search Engine Land gives us a reliable indication of continued 5% growth year on year, pushing the annual global searches to 1.26 trillion. That’s around 2.4 million searches every minute on average.
People are searching in increasingly large numbers and these results need to be high quality. With the steady improvement of voice recognition and the rollout of more creative ways to use it, the way we search will continue to evolve but it certainly isn’t about to stop. Particularly when you factor in the thirst that younger generations have for new tech and innovation (and let’s be honest, our laziness as well. Why look for something when we can ask our car/desk/phone/watch for it, right?).
Interestingly, the 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer saw search engines overtake all other sources as the most trusted news source around the world too.
Optimise For Users and Rankings Will Follow
Search crawlers won’t purchase your products so it’s time to stop optimising your site for them! Of course, ranking improvements are important to SEO but they should be little more than a happy side effect to the high quality website you’ve created.
A quick browse through most SEO forums will see an endless stream of questions about whether or not some arbitrary change will pick them up more rankings for a particular term, showing no regard for the user experience whatsoever. “If I move the helpful content and resources down the page and jam some more keywords at the top, will this help me rank better?”… The real answer: “Who cares?”
Before you even begin your campaign, you should consider the following before getting into the technical aspects later on:
- Know your audience very well
- Get an excellent understanding of their intentions; what is it they’re really searching for when they head to the search engine?
- Consider your real competition in the SERPs and determine how you can be truly, uniquely valuable to stand out from the noise
This might sound like common, basic business advice but these 3 elements form a strong basis to your campaign that points you in the right direction from the very beginning and is sure to earn you far better long term results than agonising over which exact-match domain you should purchase.
At no point should your SEO efforts ever lower the user experience.
Keep up with current trends in this fast-paced industry and you have an excellent opportunity to make a positive difference. Fall behind and cling to what SEO was and its really just your skillset that’s dying.