Is SEO Dead?

Many questions like "is SEO dead", "Is SEO writing Dead", "Why SEO is Dead", "Does SEO work for small business" and so on are being discussed. Why do some experts say "SEO is dead"? What arguments do they use? Do they realy understand what SEO stands for? Are they SEO losers (probably, old-school SEOs) or just crafty marketers who promote their non SEO services? Do they suggest to avoid SEO at all or partially? At least, may be SEO is really dead, and SEO specialists who claim the opposite are just biased persons? 

SEO is an acronym for "search engine optimization" or "search engine optimizer. 

According to the Google's official position, "deciding to hire an SEO is a big decision that can potentially improve your site and save time...".

Google also says, that "many SEOs and other agencies and consultants provide useful services for website owners, including: review of your site content or structure; technical advice on website development: for example, hosting, redirects, error pages, use of JavaScript; сontent development; management of online business development campaigns; keyword research; SEO training; expertise in specific markets and geographies".

We can conclude that official Google position sounds like this: SEO works. Moreover, Google listed (in general terms) what  should be included in SEO.

If so, why a lot of people say that SEO Does Not Work Anymore?

Because: 

1. SEO is about keyword rankings but there are keywords with high competition for which high ranking and getting traffic is almost impossible.

Ryan StewartRyan Stewart (a recognizable organic traffic expert): " Here's an interaction I used to have five times a day.  - I'm looking for SEO for [domain.com]. I want to rank for [keyword terms x, y, and z]. Can you guys handle that?  - I'm tired of explaining to people SEO doesn't work that way anymore. Google shows search results based on what's best for the user. We can't just rank for whatever keywords we want... SEO is absolutely not dead. As long as people use Google search, SEO will be alive. However, let's recap. Money/buyer (i.e., purchase-intent) keywords are: dominated by huge brands that 99% of the world can't outrank (without spamming); returning less product pages and more articles and other forms of content; triggering the knowledge graph, review aggregators, and more user-focused results" (from the article "Why I Stopped Selling SEO Services and You Should, Too", 2015).

2. SEO is more complex activity than just meta optimization and getting some backlinks.

Stephan SpencerStephan Spencer (a recognizable SEO expert): "You’ve optimized your H1s and meta tags and you’ve built a few (hopefully white hat) links. Now you just sit back and watch your site rise to the top of Google, right? Wrong. This sort of cookie-cutter approach to SEO — rarely works in today’s search landscape... Give up the old school SEO “tactics” that used to work but don’t anymore" (from the article "SEO is not dead; it’s just a shape-shifter", 2016).

3. SEO is a just a part of Search Marketing. Search Marketing is a part of Internet Marketing (Digital Marketing, Online Marketing). Internet Marketing is a part of Marketing. Hence, do not rely just on ONE marketing channel.

Danny SullivanDanny Sullivan (a recognizable SEO expert): "SEO hasn’t died in the 12 years since it was first predicted, it isn’t going away any time soon... SEO ... isn’t something a smart marketer should ignore or just leave to chance.. I don’t know any search marketer worth their salt who suggests that anyone should fixate only on search marketing alone" (from the article "Is SEO Dead? 1997 Prediction, Meet 2009 Reality").

Andrew Edwards Andrew Edwards (a recognizable digital marketer): "Even if you got to the top, did it improve your business or did you just accumulate a very high bounce rate? ...With no keyword reporting, a major support system for SEO has been, quite simply, taken away... SEO is not going to get easier. It's going to get harder." ("Are We Coming to the End of SEO?", 2014)

4. Google is not the only one search engine where your website' audience spends their time.

Danny Sullivan: "Yelp is a search engine. Facebook is a search engine. Twitter is a search engine. Amazon is a search engine. Quora is a search engine. Pinterest is a search engine. YouTube is a search engine. See where I'm going? By understanding who our target audience is and where they spend their time, we can attack those platforms and build an organic presence".

Tim Burd Tim Burd (a recognizible online advertising expert): "As a marketer or business owner, it is more important to know where your customer is looking for your product, than to rely solely on your product appearing at the top of Google... Facebook's move to step up its search options poses the largest threat to Google's market share. Consumers are more likely to care what their friends' favorite restaurant is than what restaurant is on the first page that comes up on a local Google search. Mobile apps and niche social networks are taking market share. Instead of searching all of Google for the best restaurants in Manhattan and being flooded with difficult-to-decipher results, users can search Yelp, an application completely dedicated to detailed lists of the best establishments, with review peer ratings... Search engines, specifically Google, will likely always be the place we go to get the information we need." (from the article "The Top 4 Reasons SEO Is Dead", 2015) . 

5. Today' SEO is actually all about content marketing.

Dave DaviesDave Davies (a recognizable SEO expert)"A couple things are very clear: You’re going to need content that will rank for Q&A and informational queries. The battle for the searchers’ eyes is going to change dramatically and the quality indicators will change with it. Providing the best possible product images, information, videos, guides, etc. will be what separates the results. There will likely be result sets closer to an image search result than a typical SERP now for e-commerce queries, and other query types will likely also change. Staying on top of these changes will be more critical than ever" (from the article "The Death of Organic Search (As We Know It)", 2017)

Stephan Spencer: "Longer-form content is performing better in organic search today, because the content describes more fully the topic and has more of the related entities present. Focus on the experience of your site: How can you make it better? Get deep into the mind of your ideal visitor and figure what makes them tick. What are their frustrations? What are they looking for? You need to solve for your user, not for the search engine. Your focus should be on creating remarkable content, and then on getting users to rabidly consume and share that content. Now more than ever, extraordinary and noteworthy content that creates a conversation or adds massive value to existing conversations is an essential prerequisite to successful SEO".

Ken Krogue Ken Krogue (a recognizable lead generation expert): "Invest in real, valuable, relevant content that your audience wants... Take the time to make it so compelling that people talk about it and share it. Look to real social media community support, compelling PR, and real content; for that is where true SEO practitioners are turning more and more also... Onsite, internal, or technical SEO is more important than ever (the practice of making your content adhere to best practices so Google ranks you high)... I like backlinks for real people. Share better and better content that is compelling to them. I use bit.ly links to track my links so I know the paths readers are taking. It shortens a link and tracks how many people click on it." (from the article "The Death Of SEO: The Rise Of Social, PR, And Real Content" and "The Death Of SEO (Part 2): Generating Real Content", 2012).

Neil Patel (a recognizable digital marketer):"Content is still king, and optimizing your page with visual and easily digestible content draws traffic. 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... 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" (from the article "Is SEO Dead?", 2017).

Eric EngeEric Enge (a recognizable search marketer): "While basic SEO strategies are still important, such as keywords, substantive content, anchor text and backlinks.... SEO can no longer be considered a bolt-on strategy, either. To be effective, it needs to be woven into a company’s digital marketing DNA, and pursued holistically. Every activity that is part of optimizing a company’s online presence, from its website design to its social network, is crucial to the semantic mapping of its identity, as well as its reputation for credibility and quality content (or lack thereof). In this sense, the line between SEO and marketing has become blurred. Google’s mission is to deliver high-quality, high-confidence search results. It needs to “trust” that the website and content it shows the user is relevant and accurate. So, today’s SEO is more appropriately understood in terms of the three pillars of SEO: authority, relevance and trust. Backlinks from authoritative sources, author reputation, expert content, citations by influencers and respected individuals, social media status—this is a short list of all the things you should consider in formulating your SEO strategy for today’s digital marketing environment. But SEO is not dead, by any means. In fact, this will help drive the maturation of SEO as a modern marketing discipline. Traditional SEO strategies such as keyword research and link building are still sound in this new world of semantic search. However, the focus on producing great content and great user experiences are more important than ever. In short, focusing on making your website as useful as it can be has become a major part of SEO, and that’s a very good thing" (from the article "Semantic Search and SEO: Everything You Need to Know").

THE BOTTOM LINE

SEO is not dead, it has become more complex, because search engines evolve. Hence, the old way of making SEO is dead. 

Josh SteimleJosh Steimle (a recognizible Marketing Influencer): "If you change the title tag on your homepage in the hope it will cause your website to rank better on Google, you’re doing SEO. If you add a blog to your website because you heard Google likes content, and you blog every week because you hope this will get your website ranking higher for more terms, you’re doing SEO. If you convince a friend who works at a reputable online publication to write an article about your company and link to your company’s website, you’re doing SEO... SEO will die only as soon as the search engine dies. " (from the article "SEO Is Not Dead And Will Never Die [Infographic]", 2013).​

Sam McRobertsSam McRoberts (a recognisable SEO & online marketing expert): "If, when you say SEO, what you really mean is manipulating search engines to place sites that don't really deserve to rank well at the top of the SERPs...Then yes, I'd say that's dead (or dying at least, as some manipulative tactics still work quite well). SEOs were (and many still are) helping sites to rank better that don't really deserve to rank better. In many cases, SEOs bought or worked with keyword-rich domains, loaded them with poor-quality content and ads/affiliate links, and manipulated their link profiles. SEOs will need to adapt or die. Luckily, SEOs are really good at adapting to change. SEO, the art of making content more accessible and understandable to search engines, will exist and thrive for as long as search engines exist. That said, SEO is no longer a silo. It has massive dependencies in other departments, from social and content to PR and advertising. If anything, I'd say that the role of SEO has changed from specialist/technician to more of a project manager/strategist role. SEOs are exceptional at understanding how all the pieces of the online marketing puzzle fit together. Current SEOs, the smart ones, are already shifting into roles like creative director, marketing manager, digital marketing strategist, etc. They're escaping the SEO silo because they know full well that SEO is no longer an independent discipline. For people looking to get into SEO, I'd probably recommend against it. I mean, learn SEO, by all means, but you'd better also learn PPC, CRO, design, social, copywriting, basic coding skills, and numerous other disciplines on top of that. The days of being a plain old SEO, a specialist, are pretty much done" (from the article "Is SEO Dead?", 2013).

"Even with the most sophisticated marketing strategy, people will mostly find you via search. They might have heard about you and then researched your product. Or they may just be looking for what they need by using a keyword. Your search rankings are important regardless of whether search is your number one channel or not. Leads that find your business from search typically convert at higher rates. People “found” you on their own. This makes them feel like it is their solution rather than someone selling them one.
Making a real difference with your search marketing means you have to think beyond Google. You can leapfrog by ranking well on product listing websites like Capterra and GetApp. They have high search rankings and are well-known. Often you can even pay for ranking high on such websites.
Don’t underestimate your SEO efforts. Instead of going for a top general keyword, aim to rank high for many niche terms. This will give you solid overall traffic that will be more targeted.
Content is a powerful force for attracting and educating an audience. At Hubstaff, content is one of our top acquisition tactics. We get many new visitors via search. Less people find our content via social channels or influencers". http://blog.hubstaff.com/growing-a-startup/ 

HOW MODERN SEO WORKS

  1. Perform SEO Audits constantly to be sure that your website in whole and your content in particular meet best practices and search engines' guidelines.
  2. Conduct a SEO Competitor Analysis.
  3. Create long-form content (that has additional value to existing content).
  4. Before content creation, conduct a keyword / topical research (your website should solve your visitor's real problems).
  5. Promote your content via social networks and other websites.
  6. Analyze results, optimize and promote your content constantly.

Modern SEOs should learn more stuff to get more traffic from search engines. With increased competition between millions of websites and improvements of search engine algorithms, it is clear that for better ranking your website should be first optimized for your audience (and then for search engine but not vise versa).

SEO is dead for those who did not evolve with evolution of digital reality and for those who.. cannot wait.

According to Maile Ohye (she is a Developer Programs Tech Lead at Google), "In most cases, SEOs needs four months to a year to help your business first implement improvements and then see potential benefit".