SEO May Not Be Dead; But The Best SEO Assumes It Is

Last week, a client of mine asked me if I think SEO is dead. He heard from a friend that none of his tricks worked anymore and that SEO is a thing of the past. This is not a new sentiment. Even forbes wrote about SEO dying. My response to him was…

“Every Single Day That Passes SEO Becomes More and More Relevant and Necessary.” 

Here’s why. Let’s take a step back and think about what the point of a search engine is, and what function they serve. Back in the day there was so much information being created online that it was very difficult to surface relevant information. It is was even more difficult to surface relevant information that was credible. Pretty much your only tool was following websites you trusted and trusting that the pages they linked to were credible. So, Search Engines Function To Help Us Find Relevant Information We Can Trust. 

So, when you ask me if SEO is dead, I want to know how you define SEO. Because as far as I can tell, content creation has gone warp drive and managing the amount of information out there becomes a bigger and bigger task as the world keeps spinning. In fact, because of programmatic websites, and the new generation of content curation, the barrier to create content online has become so small that everyone and his cat is cranking out content by the bushel.

I would agree that there are new ways to surface relevant content besides google. Like friends recommendations on social media, or pinboards, or tumblr blogs, or whatnot. But, every single one of those networks just creates the need for better and better algorithms.

As Content Creation Becomes Easier and Easier, Search Engines and their Algorithms Become More and More Important. 

I think we can all agree that the need for ways to surface relevant and credible information still very much exists, and in fact that needs becomes greater as more websites and content come into existence.

So, I guess that brings us back to What Is SEO Really All About? To most the answer will be helping websites rank higher in search engines. But that is really a feature of SEO, it is hardly the actual goal or the final benefit. The Real Purpose of SEO is to Make Sure Your Target Audience Finds You When They Are Looking For What You Offer.  

Now, Search Algorithms however need to be extremely fickle about the content they show in search results because a competing search engine is ONLY A CLICK AWAY. So, let’s recap this quickly.

1. The need to surface content that is relevant and credible is as great as it ever was.

2. Search engines can only afford to surface content they trust and consider relevant to a search query.

3. Your Job as an SEO is to make sure a Search Engine recognizes that you are indeed relevant to that query, and that you can be trusted.

4. SEO and Search Engines exist everywhere, not just in Google and Bing. Amazon is a search engine, Ebay has  search algorithms, Facebook introduces graph search, twitter has a very popular search tool. All of these fit into the category of Search Engine Optimization. Why? Because SEO is about Making Sure Your Target Market Finds Your Content When They Are Looking For What You Offer. No matter where they are, as long as there is an algorithm helping surface content, there is an opportunity to optimize your content to be recognized and appreciated by that algorithm. 

So, I think we can all agree that SEO is Alive and Well.

So, why am I recommending you act as if SEO is dead? Well, it’s simple really. One of the Key Features Major Search Engines are looking for is CREDIBILITY. Do you really think trying to manipulate search engines to rank a page, without any value to your users is something that will work forever? Of course not. The goal is to weed out the garbage and surface only great content. So, creating great content is the first step… More importantly, social signals and links are the core of how google and other search engines decide how much to trust your content, and getting that organically is the only sustainable strategy for SEO.

The Rule of Thumb for Sustainable SEO is…If It Doesn’t Have a Reason To Exist Outside of Influencing Search Engine Rankings, It Shouldn’t EXIST AT ALL!!! 

So, practically applied… Here are some takeaways

If a link doesn’t generate traffic to your website, it probably doesn’t have much value for SEO.

If a page on your website and it’s content doesn’t help your users, it shouldn’t exist.

If a link on your website to other pages don’t help the navigational flow, it probably doesn’t help at all.

Google and other search engines entire multi billion dollar business relies solely on surfacing the correct content for a query. Don’t you think they are most interested in surfacing the content that leaves their searchers, and your users happiest? So, stop investing time and energy into worrying about if something works for SEO, and instead assume SEO doesn’t work and focus on other organic traffic strategies like social media, social bookmarking, content curation sites, etc… and watch as all your KPI’s move up and to the right. More engaged users, More referrals, More referring URL’s, More Transactions, More Money, More Profits… and SEO, that is just the gravy of doing your job well.

That’s right. Assume SEO is Dead, Make your website DEPEND on a Healthy mix of organic traffic sources, and your SEO Rankings Will Be The Cherry On Top of Your Delicious Ice Cream Sundae. 

(Note: Technical SEO is obviously very important, and I strongly encourage you to make sure search engines can crawl and index your site, and that all your content is tagged properly both with meta tags and micro formats. I am talking on a holistic SEO strategy level. Focus on your users first, and Your SEO will rock better than any other strategies.)



About David Melamed

David Melamed is the Founder of Tenfold Traffic, a search and content marketing agency with over $50,000,000 of paid search experience and battle tested results in content development, premium content promotion and distribution, Link Profile Analysis, Multinational/Multilingual PPC and SEO, and Direct Response Copywriting.


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