Guest Post – Our host is Jessica, In this post Jessica gives her opinion on why SEO is not on the way out.See How To Become a guest author on Spice Up Your Blog.
Every day it appears some self-appointed ‘expert’ has declared the industry of SEO dead on its knees, this time next year we’ll all be flipping burgers, stacking shelves or asking people if they’d like a copy of The Big Issue. Whilst I don’t have the advantage of having a time machine (some guy with floppy hair wearing a bow tie stole it) I think we really do have to stop with the doom and gloom before it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Why Is SEO always about to die ?
The latest round of theories is citing social signals as being the death of SEO. There are several reasons why this is a load of bull pie:
In the olden days SEOs could wonder round the net grabbing all the links they could get their grubby little hands on, quantity was the name of the game and quality was pushed to the back of the priority list. We all knew this was wrong but in defence of the naive, it worked at least at the time. Whether it was through spinning low quality articles, forum spamming, directory listings or simply throwing cash about everyone wanted links.
Now we know this isn’t the case, in fact sites with too many of these ‘unnatural links’ as Google has been calling them has caused rankings to fall and even businesses to go under. These days only original content that’s on topic carries the value needed.
Verdict: This hasn’t killed SEO, it’s made it more challenging. Links still carry a lot of weight in the ranking algorithm, the practice just needs to be re-evaluated.
SEO itself is still fairly new, it’s only the graduates just coming out of college and university now that even consider the concept in their marketing courses. The rest of us are pretty much making it up as we go along as it the rest of the industry and as with anything new it’s still changing and evolving all the time and the latest evolutionary step is social media. As new as SEO is, social media is even newer, it’s come to play and it’s only fair we let it. Facebook is predominantly the second most popular website in the developed western world behind Google; anyone would be hard pressed to argue it isn’t a powerful force – so why wouldn’t the search engines take notice of it?
The theory is that a tweet or Facebook like can have power within the ranking algorithm in the same way a link can, it’s another way for a search engine to see someone has ‘voted’ for your site.
There is one fundamental flaw in the argument of everyone shouting ‘the social signals are coming, SEO is dead’
Google is the biggest search engine in the world, it’s the one most SEOs want to rank in. Google doesn’t actually have any social data! Yep, that’s my argument as to why most of us shouldn’t be packing our desks up just yet.
For a long time Google has been looking over at Facebook feeling more than a little bit jealous. Facebook can’t collect all our data quick enough, it’s got data coming out its ears – valuable, precious data that Google would really like to get its hands on. The same goes for Twitter, not quite as big as Facebook but still consuming enough data every day to make Google sick. Google asked if it could come over and play, it wanted a share of that data pie but it didn’t work out and Google left feeling a little bit sulky.
What does every child who isn’t invited to the coolest parties do? Yep, Google threw its own social media part and created Google + which was going to be way cooler than Facebook and Twitter combined (you know, cus it had circles and stuff). Unfortunately all the cool kids were happy over with Facebook and Twitter and didn’t want to leave and no matter how much money Google threw at advertising it’s cool new social media platform it just couldn’t get the social engagement it needed. A year on and the only people who really use G+ are Google employees and people that have something to do with the world of online marketing.
Enter Bing: The search engine that comes as standard with your Windows machines, the search engine that most people use only to find Google and set it as their home page. Bing might not have the market share that Google does but it has something Google would dearly love – it’s friends with both Facebook and Twitter and has access to all that lovely data. When you search on Bing you’ll see helpful little comments about your friends who liked/tweeted any search results so if you’re looking for a hotel in Oxford you can see if any of your friends have had any interaction with it and you know you’ve got a recommendation you can trust.
So we have a catch 22 situation and this is why SEO isn’t dead:
The only search engine with enough power to use social signals doesn’t have enough sway and the only search engine with enough sway doesn’t have enough social signals to use!
Google isn’t going to let this go, their motto is no longer ‘don’t be evil’. Their focus is on money and they’re much more transparent about it now. Assuming they don’t do something stupid to trip themselves up they’re going to be on top for a while to come but they’re not letting this social thing drop, they’re determined to do it. At the same time Bing is getting bigger and a lot of SEOs and people who understand search engines are getting sick of Google’s dominance and starting to really push Bing. At thing rate it will become a serious threat to Google.
It doesn’t have to be today or even tomorrow but someday soon you are going to have to start looking at social signals. SEO isn’t dead but the way it used to be practiced is. It’s time to branch out and integrate with other departments. Work with the developers to create a website that offers great user experience, make sure you’re ticking all the boxes laid out by Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and work with the social team to put together a full marketing strategy. If you work for an agency that keeps all the departments segmented you need to break out. It’s more fun now, we get to be more creative, design fun and engaging content and share it with as many people as you can, basically, just don’t spam, create a website for the end user first and the search engine second and SEO in one form or another will be around for a while yet.