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Is SEO finally dead?

By piranha

6th August 2014

Search marketing has undergone a transformation in recent years with the much publicised Google updates with creative names including Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird, but has this led to the demise of Search Engine Optimisation altogether?

The answer depends on your point of view and what you understand by SEO. If you think of SEO as a series of short cuts to help skew ranking results such as over stuffing of key words, purchasing poor quality links from link farms or having listings on thousands of pointless directories, then I am glad to report, that yes SEO is Dead.

The Answer

The true answer, however, is simply that SEO has finally grown up. Google has around 91% of the UK search market with approximately 85% of website interaction coming from the first page of Google so the economic pressure to have a website ranked on the first page of Google, not just for e-commerce sites but also for B2B sites is enormous. Site owners and SEO companies have simply spotted the huge financial gains available and exploited the weaknesses in the search engine algorithms. Yes it is true that in the past you could affect SEO by employing tactics such as having white text on a white background, or setting the font size to 0, but this is no longer the case (or more to the point, these tricks are more likely to be identified and the website in question punished according to Googles current rules)

Google has simply started to catch up with the organisations and individuals who identified these short cuts and updated their algorithms to systematically identify what it classes as SEO abuse. The result, search engines hope, is that search results will continually improve delivering websites that are technically better, provide a better user experience, provide better content and interact with social platforms. Whether the ultimate goal is to push more and more companies to the necessity of AdWords and other paid for adverting platforms is not for me to say, but the facts are clear that the loop holes and short cuts are getting closed.

The Future

Whilst this might paint a grim view of the future for SEO the facts are still the same, search engines are still the number one sources of new business for many industry sectors. E-commerce is growing year on year, there is still only one “first page on google” and the competition is stronger than ever. The game is still the same, it’s just the rules have changed. SEO specialists now have to adhere more to the rules to avoid penalties. They have to be more creative in their link building, looking at other forms of link baiting such as video, Infogrames and unique content, ensuring the site is technically perfect on all platforms, ensuring the optimum performance of the server and focusing on on-site content supported by off-site marketing and PR.

Whilst the changes implemented by the major search engines has badly affected many sites and SEO companies, in the long term it can only be a good thing as it continues to increase the professionalism of the on-line marketing community and as a user, we should all see more accurate results. My only concern is that this could lead us to a situation where a smaller and smaller number of sites occupy the top positions for more key words reducing completion and leading us into a situation that we have on the high street where independent, smaller companies get squeezed out altogether (unless they succumb to AdWords).

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