It’s no secret that the SEO world has changed. Ever since Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithm changes, and the subsequent updates to them, prior best practices fell apart. There’s no doubt about that. Things that were once highly effective tools of SEO, like link wheels, are no longer relevant. Because of the ever-decreasing ways in which a marketer can manipulate search engine ranks, there has been an increasing chorus of people proclaiming the “death” of SEO.
Some Self-Serving Claims
It’s been a long-running trend to proclaim the death of SEO. Here’s a nice little article from 2007 which lists other, older articles proclaiming the death of SEO. The claim that SEO is dead is not a new one.
These claims tend to come from two kinds of people: SEO-ers who’ve jumped ship and are trying to get people to follow them, or from people who work on elements of marketing that could be considered strategic alternatives to SEO. Once upon a time, a lot of these voices were from people doing search advertising. Now they’re mostly from content marketers.
Is content marketing important for SEO? Sure it is. Is it more important for SEO than it used to be? In most cases, yes. Is it a replacement for SEO? Not a chance.
The New Age of SEO
Let’s be clear on something: SEO is not dead. SEO will quite possibly never be dead so long as search engines as we know them remain widely used tools.
SEO has been an ever-changing field since the beginning. Remember “keyword jamming”? Remember those websites that were padded with “invisible” text at the bottom of the pages back in the 90s? Remember the link farms of the 2000s? … The most effective tactics have always changed as Google and other search engines have evolved, and I would be very surprised if that fact doesn’t remain true for a long time to come. The only thing about SEO that is infallibly true is the value of those highly coveted top organic search ranks.
The job of the SEOer has not changed. The SEOer is not suddenly a content marketer. The SEOer’s toolbox, however, has changed.
Many technical factors surrounding SEO are still important. Site performance is still very important and something that can be directly controlled. Clickthrough is still very important and is something which is readily influenced. Ensure that any page that you would want to use as a landing page has the appropriate metadata such that your site’s appearance in search results attracts searchers. Making use of Google Authorship and tagging content accordingly can have a profound effect, especially for companies which generate a lot of high-quality content. Additionally, SEOers need to ensure the website’s entry points should be controlled.
Keyword research is still important. The results of this keyword research are then fed to content development teams to help guide the content focus towards things that people are looking for. SEOers then need to ensure that the content is appropriately optimized, or that the content development teams know enough about SEO to create well-optimized content themselves.
Content marketing is very important for most organizations, but it’s still just one piece of SEO. Having an SEO strategy which focuses solely on content will put you at a strategic disadvantage versus those companies with a more holistic approach.