If you’ve been working in online marketing long enough, the idea that search engine optimization (SEO) is dead isn’t news to you. In fact, SEO has been around for many years and it has “died many deaths.”
According to the team at Search Engine Journal, the term SEO was used as early as 1997 and search engines were already being denounced as a dead-end technology by November of the same year. That’s about 10 months before Google even came to exist!
In the years since, SEO has been pronounced dead many times, including in 2011, when Google’s Panda update cracked down on manipulative SEO techniques. But with 40,000 Google searches being processed every second and an average of nine algorithm updates made every day, one thing is clear — SEO might be changing, but it is as relevant to your business today as it has ever been.
In this article, we’re going to break down why SEO still matters, what strategies you should be using today and what to keep an eye on for the future.
The aim of SEO is simple: to improve the on-page and off-page aspects of your website so your business appears at the top of search engine results.
For example, if you offer dog grooming in Richmond, you want your business to show up first when someone looks for this service on Google or Bing. To this day, SEO is the most effective way to get your website above your competitors and to the top of that list. If 40,000 Google searches a second (or 3.5 billion searches per day) isn’t enough to convince you how important SEO can be, consider these facts:
SEO might be changing all the time, but some ingredients have been central to SEO success for many years. Make sure you use the following ingredients in your SEO strategy. If you’re already following some or all of the steps below, completing an SEO audit could be the key to enhancing your online presence.
The way keywords are used has changed a lot over the years, but they have never stopped being important to SEO. Every time your potential customer types a query into Google, they’re using keywords. To show up in search results, you need to be using those keywords too.
The easiest way to find relevant keywords is to start typing your products and services into Google. The suggestions that come up are keywords that people are using. You’ll probably want to use a mix of long-tail keywords and short-tail keywords, as well as semantic terms. Semantic terms are related to your main keywords. To find them, simply scroll to the bottom of a Google results page to see related searches. For example, when I search for “plumber”, some semantic keywords include “emergency plumber”, “cheap plumber” and “24/7 local plumber.” For more information about keyword research, check out HubSpot’s beginner’s guide.
“Content is king” might be the most overused term in digital marketing circles, even more so than “SEO is dead.” However, onsite content is an undeniably important part of your SEO success. With the right keywords, you can start creating high-quality, relevant and useful content. Some of the webpages you will need to create content for include the homepage, the about page, individual product and service pages and the contact page. You should also craft content for regular blog posting and case studies.
Every page should be focused on a small group of long-tail and short-tail keywords. The content should be expert, authoritative and trustworthy (E-A-T) and designed to solve the problems of your target audience.
If you want a guide for what high-ranking content might look like in your industry, simply search your main keyword and take a look at the first page results. By analyzing these results, you can learn:
By this stage, you’ve already completed the first steps in on-page SEO optimization. That is, you’ve created high-quality webpage content that’s supported by extensive keyword research. But on-page optimization doesn’t stop there.
Off-page SEO optimization focuses primarily on building links and brand mentions that point to your website. For example, when we recommend Neil Patel’s Ultimate Guide to Off-Page SEO (and we really do!), that is a backlink to that page. A brand mention involves mentioning a website or its work without directly linking to it.
Other aspects of off-page optimization include a healthy social media presence and other tactics to drive traffic to your website. For more information, we recommend Neil Patel’s guide!
It’s impossible to predict exactly what SEO will look like in 10 years, five years, or even next year. However, by examining emerging trends, we can get some insight into the future of SEO.
Those are just a few of the trends that will drive SEO in the next 12 months and into the future. While SEO is always changing, you can keep up by mastering the fundamentals mentioned above and keeping one eye on emerging trends.
Things can sometimes seem uncertain and they can definitely change fast, but one thing is for sure. SEO is alive and well and it’s not going anywhere any time soon.