Is SEO dead? The short answer is no, and virtually every other blog post on the Internet will say the same.
Instead of just talking about the benefits of search engine optimization for websites, we’re going to be taking a look at how the nature of SEO has changed on Google and how the influence of SEO in terms of search rankings continues to ebb and flow.
We’ll be talking about Google in mind for the most part simply because it’s by far the most used search engine (88% US market share) and therefore the most relevant to website owners.
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What Is SEO? (briefly)
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a process in digital marketing in which website pages are optimized in such a way that they can rank effectively in Google’s search results.
The primary goal of SEO is to have web pages—whether they’re product pages, service pages, blogs, or other landing pages—rank as high up Google’s results pages (SERPs) as possible.
This is done through several ways.
Here’s a list of the most important factors that are taken into account when Google’s search engine algorithm determines who comes out on top.
- Site security: Google has long been encouraging websites to adopt HTTPS, and sites that are secured this way are preferred over others which lack security measures.
- Page speed: Google accounts for the time it takes for a page to load, rewarding sites that are fast and punishing those that aren’t.
- Mobile friendliness: How a website performs on mobile is a key factor for SEO—sites that are optimized for mobile use are favored in search rankings.
- Domain authority: DA is an indication of a site’s “authority”—which is determined by a site’s relevance to an industry/topic and its backlink profile.
- Keyword-rich copy: Search engines scan a web page’s copy to determine whether it’s relevant for the searcher—pages with copy that correspond to keywords and search terms will be shown in the SERPs.
- Technical SEO: On-page copy isn’t the only copy that matters. Titles, sub-headers, and image alt tags all play a role in SEO.
- UX: Google’s algorithm uses an AI program called RankBrain to study user experience “signals” such as organic click-through rates, dwell time, and bounce rate.
- Backlinks: Links from other sites pointing to a website’s pages is a key identifier, helping Google understand the legitimacy of certain pages. Backlinks from sites with high DA are more valuable.
What Does this Mean?
As you can see from the above list, there are myriad factors which search engines account for when determining page rankings.
Each of these are well and alive and being used for the purposes of sorting content to provide searchers with the most relevant results.
The question, then, is not whether SEO is dead, but which components that make up SEO are the most important? And which factors should be singled out for particular attention by businesses?
Is SEO Dead?
Let’s just take a brief moment to say that because of the importance of all these factors in ranking for content in search engine results pages, SEO most certainly is not dead by any means.
SEO has evolved to encompass a greater variety of considerations that are taken into account by search engines when showing pages to searchers.
Once upon a time, Google’s algorithm was far less sophisticated than it is today.
This led to it being taken advantage in a number of ways. One of the most recognizable techniques people used was “link spamming”, where people would post links back to their website on other site’s comment sections, wikis, or forums.
The intention for this was to build a positive backlink profile for their own site by having these links point to it from other domains.
Since then, Google and other search engines have worked hard to stop practices like these, which is why today all of the factors listed above are key components in the ranking of web pages today—by having a variety of factors determine rankings, sites have to accommodate a range of positive signals to succeed.
When it comes to backlinks, specifically, link spamming and other shortcuts are not remotely viable, as user intent, the referring domain, and where the link is anchored are all significant indicators of whether those links are legitimate or not.
In any event, as many older and more rudimentary forms of SEO have fallen by the wayside in favor of a larger variety of more sophisticated “signals”, search engine optimization remains a significant factor for website owners to consider.
Which Factors Are Most Significant?
It goes without saying that when optimizing site content for search engines, all of the signals that are assessed should be optimized to the fullest extent.
This encompasses many considerations—getting alt tags in order, ensuring keyword-rich copy, image file sizes that don’t slow down the page—all of these aspects of SEO must be accommodated for the best chance at success.
That being said, there are certain aspects of SEO that site owners should pay special attention to.
First and foremost, having great copy that search engines can correctly identify as being associated with the desired topic and intent of searchers is crucial and should be top of the list.
There will be readers who came across this blog post precisely because search engines determined it to be relevant to their search query, in this instance the topic of whether SEO is dead or not.
Other major considerations for SEO should be the site’s domain authority and its backlink profile.
These two are linked in many ways. Backlinks refer to links from other sites pointing to your pages—the higher the domain authority of the referring site, the more valuable the backlink.
Establishing a strong backlink profile for a website will in turn increase its domain authority, which is used by Google and other engines to determine the legitimacy and authority of a website.
Google itself, for example, has an authority score of 98 out of 100, which means that any content it posts is likely to rank very highly compared to competitors with lower DAs.
Once these SEO practices have been optimized, move onto the other signals and make sure the website has the best possible head start in being ranked favorably by search engines.
Is SEO dead? Not by any measure. Search engine optimization is today a central aspect of the online marketing strategies for all businesses, big or small.
SEO has evolved and changed over the last number of years to incorporate over 200 signals that are considered when ranking and the practice as a whole remains crucial in garnering visibility for websites.
SEO is not dead, and organizations that have little or no strategy for optimizing and ranking for their web content should absolutely consider incorporating one or looking to an agency for consultation in order to get more eyes—and leads—for their company.
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