Is SEO dead?
Just asking the question makes me cringe. Or smirk. Or cry. I don’t even know anymore.
People have been saying “SEO is dead” ever since SEO was born.
And guess what. It’s not dead yet!
If you’ve ever Googled “is SEO dead,” you may have seen this website:
The author of the blog calls the SEO-is-dead-trope one of the “oldest cliches on the internet.”
Want to know when the site was first published? May 2010.
Why in the world am I writing about it?
Because every year brings fresh developments to the SEO industry that causes skeptics to once again wonder if SEO is dead or not.
The Internet has gone through several iterations over the past 30 years, and while SEO tactics have certainly changed, as long as search engines exist, ranking in them will be important.
New technology may change the way we interact and explore the Internet, but search engines will always be a factor, and optimizing your information for these constantly evolving algorithms will never go out of style.
You probably know where I’m going with this article.
SEO is not dead.
But, for a new age of machine learning, the AI takeover, and algorithm-driven algorithms, let me show you why SEO is still alive and kicking.
SEO for machines is still necessary even with the rise of IoT
The Internet of Things is upon us with automated cars, smartwatches, and even light bulbs that are connected to the Internet. It won’t be long before everything we own is connected, and certainly, SEO won’t be necessary for these machines to navigate the web, right?
Actually, it’s even more important to SEO-optimize a site for M2M communication in IoT.
While a person will scan a page to find the most optimal results for their needs, machines are forced to find contextual clues to determine both the reader’s and writer’s intent. It’s like a dating site.
To help you get started, here are some SEO-related tools that can help you scan your site, compare it to the competition, and target focused keywords.
And here’s an idea of exactly what types of “things” are being connected to the Internet, along with their intended purpose.
What’s important to understand is these machines aren’t replacing the Internet as we know it. They’re simply adding that much more to it.
Back in 1992, there were barely one million devices connected to the Internet, which isn’t a great sample size, considering the current 7.125+ billion people alive on our planet.
Currently, there are nearly 23 billion devices connected, and by 2020, that number is expected to more than double to 50.1 billion.
Internet searches performed by people aren’t going away. We’ll just be performing them from watches, cars, and other connected devices that are also performing their own searches.
Traffic is going to continue going up, and that creates a larger need for more intuitive content, not less.
Even in the world of IoT, SEO is necessary
SEO for people is still necessary
The difference in how we search the web in the future isn’t that search engines are going away, but that we’re more likely to use voice search.
With voice search, more words are spoken, long-tail keywords become more important, and writing in a conversational tone is necessary to sound human when your words are converted to speech.
As Rand Fishkin points out in Moz, the most likely result of conversational search is that only the top result will be displayed.
Instead of aiming and settling for the first page, search assistants like Siri, Google Now, and Cortana do their best to provide exactly the one result you’re searching for.
This is going to make SEO more vital and much more competitive.
With more searches being performed and fewer results being shown, a lot of websites are going to need to shift strategies.
Keep in mind that 75% of users never scroll to page 2.
Apple, Google, and Microsoft are striving to provide the best possible search results to encourage usage of their voice search programs, so catering to them is going to be key moving forward.
Like I said, search will continue to be important because people will continue to search the Internet. Whether or not the type of content searched for changes over time remains to be seen.
Real users will always be the ultimate audience for Internet content.
And real users will be searching the web in a variety of ways — with their voice, with their vehicles, with their appetites, with their minds.
And that’s going to require search optimization, in whatever shape or form it requires.
Schema, AMP, and other ways SEO beats PPC
Schema markup is now implemented in Google and other search engines as a way to provide more valuable, visual content for searches.
Now if you search your favorite song, for example, you’re presented with lyrics, release dates, concert schedules, artist biographies, and more.
Here’s a basic example of how schema markup features product information in the SERPs:
Schema is a sign of Google’s future search ambitions, and you’d be wise to follow their lead and start implementing it for your SEO.
This structured data details what type of content can be found on each page of your site, whether product descriptions, reviews, news, reference material, calendars of events, or more.
Schema’s structured data signals search bots to understand the context of your content, making it more reputable and raising SERP visibility.
Remember when I said SEO for machines is important? Schema, combined with sitemaps, guides machines through your site so they know where to direct visitors.
On top of schema, Google also implemented AMP-optimized pages, which are mobile-optimized, barebones pages meant for faster loading on mobile devices.
Although ad platforms and other plugins may have issues with AMP, a WordPress plugin makes automatic AMP versions of each of your website’s pages that can be found by adding /AMP to the URL.AMP results appear in a carousel above search results when searching from a mobile device and are hosted on Google’s servers instead of your own, so the web development community is currently divided on the issue.
SEO in virtual reality
And of course we can’t discuss emerging technologies without mentioning how augmented and virtual reality will change search engine results.
Once again, it’s important to understand that VR provides a whole new UI and UX, but the basics of search will remain fundamentally unchanged. Content is still king, and optimizing your page with visual and easily digestible content draws traffic.
These new technologies do open the doors for innovative new marketing avenues, however. Consider Pokemon Go, which boasts nearly 5 million active daily users.
Since players were moving around in the real world to catch Pokemon, many small businesses took advantage to host events at Pokestops and gyms nearby. It became one of 2016’s biggest marketing trends.
New technologies being used in new ways can help draw visitors the same way being listed on Yelp or Google Maps can. It’s all about how you use it.
Here’s a look at what analysts predict the VR and AR markets will be worth over the next five years. It’s expected to be a $41 billion industry that can’t be ignored.
That’s a lot of VR and AR headsets being used to connect to the Internet instead of traditional monitors. The consumer market is expected to account for $18.9 billion of this market by 2025.
This means VR and AR are poised to become another way people browse and view web content.
Getting involved in VR and AR today can increase your visibility for this crowd. It positions you as an early adopter of what’s sure to be a widespread technology.
Technology is constantly evolving. Twenty years ago, it was hard to imagine smartphones taking over the world the way they have. These days smartphones are old news.
Today, people have smartwatches, Fitbits, wirelessly connected earphones, WiFi hotspots built into self-driving automobiles, and virtual worlds that can be augmented with the real world to create an interface straight out of a sci-fi movie.
Some people think this new technology signals the death of SEO, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
The reality is that online connectivity is more popular and important than ever. People still depend on the web for entertainment, information, and the ability to conduct business.
As more and more devices and people connect to the Internet to perform more and more searches, SEO isn’t dying, but rather becoming more important each and every day.
With so many devices searching for so much information as fast as possible, the real winners of tomorrow’s Internet are the brands, entrepreneurs, and people able to make the best content available the quickest.
Nope, SEO isn’t dead.
So don’t worry about it.
Whatever you’re doing to increase your website’s search visibility, you can keep doing it until it stops working.
And then you can find the next effective SEO tactic and use it until it keeps working.
SEO evolves. And you’ll evolve with it.
But it’s not going away anytime soon.
What SEO techniques do you think will thrive or die as we move forward with technology?