I’ve been promoting websites since 1998 – before we even used the term Search Engine Optimisation. Back then it was far from clear which of the multiple search engines would rise to enjoy the kind of dominance that the mighty Google now enjoys, with multiple sites competing for your searching time. (Lycos, Infoseek, AltaVista etc etc).
Once Google started to emerge as the main contender, of course, in the early 2000s, there followed in its wake the first of the doom-mongers proclaiming that “SEO is dead”, based on their contention that Google’s focus on inbound links was the death knell for any serious optimisation work.
Having watched the industry grow from what was really a small handful of practitioners to the enormous range of companies and freelancers that are involved today, I can confidently state that SEO is far from dead – it is simply evolving.
One of the main reasons that people currently suggest SEO is dead or dying is the fact that mobile browsing has overtaken desktop browsing in terms of usage. What this means is that more people are using their smartphones or tablet devices to access the internet than are using traditional desktop or laptop computers.
Why does this impact on search engine optimisation? Well, Google generates the vast majority of its income from paid adverts – AdWords – that it includes in its search results. What you may not be aware of is that the top results in most searches are actually paid adverts. And on a mobile device, the screen space is so small that you may not be presented with non-paid results at all when you perform a search.
So the theory is that, with eg 51% of searches not delivering a non-paid result, there is no point putting any effort into SEO as the majority of people won’t see your site in the non-paid listings anyway.
However, if 49% of searches are still performed on desktop or laptop machines, this is actually a fairly large number of people considering the number of people online. (Even if these figures are 55% / 45% – that’s still a very large number of people being ignored by the non-SEO sites).
So to turn the naysayers’ argument on its head – if they’re saying we should only focus on the 51% who use mobile devices, what they’re implying is that we should ignore the 49% who don’t – thus leaving a very large amount of potential business that we’re not targeting.
The most compelling reason to believe that SEO isn’t dead, though, is this one:
The fundamental principle of modern day SEO is based on ensuring your site features quality content that visitors will actually benefit from having access to. (And I would argue that this has really always been the basis for a solid long term SEO strategy).
As a result of having this sort of content on your site, you are far more likely to attract the kind of quality inbound links that Google wants to see in order to determine that your site is worthy of appearing in its listings for relevant search phrases.
But the main point here is that the type of quality inbound links you get as a result of your quality site content will actually send you quality traffic in the first place. So, rather than simply having a bunch of links that are designed to boost your ranking in Google, the links you gain nowadays are more likely to bring you potential customers in their own right – with the fortunate knock-on effect of also helping to boost your site in Google. The very definition of “win-win”.
So my contention is that SEO is far from dead and will continue to be able to generate new business on an ongoing basis for many years to come – as it is successfully doing for my clients at the moment.
You can read more about my SEO services at my consultancy site.