Will SEO Ever Die?
SEO is somewhat of a unicorn in the world of digital. Many don’t understand what it is, how it works or if it is actually beneficial. Our SEO strategist Sophie deep dives into its past, present and future.
Will SEO Ever Die?
Alright, a bit of a deep question. But, as someone whose career has been formed by SEO - I hope not!
The serious and quick answer though, is no. As long as search engines exist, so will SEO.
The long answer? Well…
SEO is somewhat of a unicorn in the world of digital. Many don’t understand what it is, how it works or if it is actually beneficial. Therefore many don’t see the worth and moreover think it won’t stand the test of time. Because it is something that depends on many factors, doesn’t bring results overnight and is somewhat complex, it is something that many marketers choose to avoid.
Why is SEO Still Relevant?
SEO is still as relevant as it was when it began (back in the 90s). But being as relevant doesn’t mean it is the same as it was in the early days. Search engines, websites, digital technology and platforms have all massively evolved, and so has SEO.
The simple fact is, as long as users use search engines, SEO will be alive. It’s kind of in the name (search engine optimisation, for those who don’t know).
There are millions of people searching queries, questions, products, subjects and so on every single day. There are also millions of websites, trying to answer and be the best solution to those searches.
Sure, some big brands might appear to win every time. They might always seem to be at the top of results (think big brands with even bigger budgets). But either way, no matter what the budget or the brand size, to be at the top, those websites need SEO in some shape or form. Without it, they won’t stay up and those doing SEO will overtake. That applies to every website out there.
When It All Started
SEO began as we know it in the 90s. Some argue it began at the beginning of that era, some later. The first website was published in 1991, which is why some SEO’ers out there believe it really began life on that date. It came in several different forms, but ‘officially’, it kicked off around 1997.
The story goes, the manager of rock band Jefferson Starship is to thank for the term ‘search engine optimisation’ and its subsequent evolution. He was frustrated that the band was on page 4 of the search engine at the time, and wanted it to be page 1, position 1. However, some say this is fiction and look to companies such as Multimedia Marketing Group and Webstep Marketing Agency, who started using the term ‘search engine optimisation’ at the time.
However back then, SEO was very much directory driven and websites would earn places in the top spot through heavy link building, a basic website that worked and a focus around your main key phrases.
Where SEO is Used
SEO is used everywhere across search. Not just on websites themselves, but outside the boundaries of a business URL too. It is used to outreach and build links with other valuable companies, develop and grow local business profiles, earn places in rich results (think the recipe snippets you see when you search how to make gravy) and much more.
It isn’t what it used to be, the reality is that now, SEO is much harder, it requires much more time and investment and needs the relevant expertise to be implemented properly. Gone are the days of creating lots of low value content to over-target keywords, building massively high quantities of low quality backlinks and focusing on the algorithm and bots rather than people.
Google and search engines are more clever than they ever were before, you can’t fool them with high volume targeting. Now, their focus is to provide the most relevant, helpful and high quality information to users based on their search intentions. That might include:
Focusing on topic clusters rather than individual keywords
Creating epic content
Promoting that content across all of your channels
Making websites not just Google friendly, but user friendly (and mobile friendly)
Running regular site audits and keeping your website technically sound
Making sure your website is up to speed (literally)
Ensuring your outreach and links are high quality over high quantity
And none of this is easy. It requires expertise, time and effort, and another proof of the fact that SEO isn't dead is that more and more companies are hiring SEOs and paying much higher salaries for them. If SEO was winding down, that wouldn’t be happening.
Is It Worth It?
According to Intergrowth, 68% of online experiences begin with a search engine. 86% of people ignore paid banner ads, choosing to only click on organic search results. Bounce rates increase by 9% if your website takes 2 seconds to load and 38% if your site takes 5 seconds to load. These are just some of the stats that show SEO is absolutely worth investing in.
According to the same source, 63% of all shopping begins online, even if the purchase itself happens in a store. With this in mind, for e-commerce businesses SEO is an absolute no brainer. But even for those who aren’t selling online, it is essential for website success.
SEO is a long term investment, and one in which money is never lost. Unlike advertising where the budget is spent once and solely relies on the success of that campaign, buying SEO will only benefit a website and bring lasting rewards that stay forever if well maintained. It does many things, including:
Improving website usability
Giving strong competitive advantage
Supporting content marketing across the board
Maximising paid campaigns
Reaching thousands more people
Gaining quantifiable results over long periods of time
Increasing brand awareness
In 5 Years Time…
We could be walking round a zoo (pre Noah and the Whale). But really, in 5 years time, you guessed it - we reckon SEO will still be around. It will continue to exist and expand through not only search engines, but across channels. As ever, it will continue to evolve and so websites must evolve with it.
It is predicted that SEO and social media will increasingly merge in the coming years and as such, alongside AI advancements, we expect it to look fairly different in 5 years time, but its importance won’t be changing.
Rest assured, SEO won’t ever die - it will always exist in some form, so long as websites do. We look forward to seeing what its future brings.