Is SEO Dead?
With Google's Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird updates resulting in a multitude of sites being penalised in its rankings, there has been much talk as to whether SEO is dead. So is SEO dead, or has it just grown up a little bit?
Google has over 90% of the of the search market in the UK, and with over 85% of website interaction coming from the first page of its search results, there is obviously a HUGE demand by companies and website owners to have their listing appear on the first page for their chosen keywords. This demand led to site owners and SEO agencies looking at how best to exploit Google's algorithms, and this in turn led to a situation where numerous links were placed on poor quality sites, listings were made on thousands of pointless directories and content was written for the search engine spiders, stuffed with keywords. This approach was hugely successful, but only for a limited time. If this is your understanding of SEO, then yes, thanks to Google's recent updates, SEO is dead.
However, all of that wasn't really true, professional SEO. What it was was a series of loopholes, shortcuts and workarounds, and it was inevitable that Google would take action, because it was resulting in some terribly poor sites sitting at the top of the search listings. The result of Google's continuing updates will be an improvement in the search listings, with results that reward good quality, relevant websites that provide a good user experience, sites that offer users useful and relevant information, and sites that integrate well with the growing presence of social media.
With all the loopholes closing, true SEO specialists have had to adapt to the changing rules of the game, and now have to adhere to strict guidelines and rules to ensure sites are not penalised. Links are still important, but they have to be relevant and of good quality. Content is key, and should be written for users and not search engines and should be readable, not stuffed full of keywords and key-phrases. Finally, SEO should integrate with your offline and social media marketing, 'social signals' from sites such as Facebook and Twitter being seen as increasingly important.
So whilst it has been a tough time for many sites in terms of SEO, especially those who have been penalised, what Google's continuing updates of its search algorithm have done is to ensure the search listings now are more relevant and of a higher quality, and also have also ensured that SEO is now a professional and reputable activity. SEO isn't dead. It's just grown up.