Why are people saying SEO is dead?

People love drama.  People who practice SEO love drama.  Almost as soon as SEO became a thing, a number of blogs, videos and podcasts have been published declaring that ‘SEO is Dead’.  So we thought we’d jump on the bandwagon.  Only joking!  In this episode of ‘Internet Marketing for Humans’ we discuss why some people are saying SEO is Dead.

Podcast notes

Is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) dead? No it isn’t. SEO is not dead.

So why do people say SEO is dead? Partly to draw attention to themselves, even I’ve done this in the past. Years ago I published a Kindle book called ‘SEO is DEAD’. Don’t look for it, it’s not there any more.

I quite like that people say SEO is dead. But it would be much clearer if the phrase was ‘bad SEO is dead’.

Let’s have a look at what SEO was, and what it is now.

Way back (last century!) when I started trying to figure out how to get more traffic to websites SEO was a fairly new concept.

Some people found out quickly that getting search engines (this was back when there was more than Google!) to place sites at the top of search results there were ‘SEO things’ that could be done.

A lot of this was something we call keyword stuffing, which was using the target keyword over and over to try and fool search engines.

People also built things called ‘doorway pages’, which were crappy little websites that all pointed to the website you wanted to rank.

I won’t go into any more detail, mostly because it didn’t take long for search engines to get much smarter at seeing through these naff attempts at SEO.

So perhaps for some people who view SEO as a way of pulling the wool over Google’s eyes, the fact none of those tricks really work any more could be a reason to say SEO is dead.

But those people were missing the point from the start. SEO really isn’t about trying to fool anyone; good SEO is all about making the web a better place. It’s a focus on quality content, building great relationships and being generally kickass.

So that’s one group of naysayers out of the way, but why are other people saying SEO is dead? In fact why are some high profile SEO ‘experts’ saying SEO is dead?

In a way they are correct when they say SEO is Dead. Now that might be a shocking thing to hear. But unless you have read any of the many blog posts saying SEO is dead you won’t realise that there’s a crucial modifier missing from this statement.

It would be more accurate to say ‘Using only SEO is Dead’. It’s true; relying only on pure SEO in the traditional sense is dead as a good way to grow a company or increase profits.

It’s my argument that using SEO in isolation was never the best way to market anything. The same goes for relying on any one channel or method to promote your business.

SEO is an incredibly useful tool, and a great SEO program should always have many positive side affects that aren’t strictly SEO related.

So while where you rank in Google is undeniably important, it’s not the only game in town. Social is great, content is great, outreach is great. In short all Internet Marketing is great, but some methods (like social or paid advertising) will not suit every business need.

Being brutal, if you rank really well for all your target terms and ignore all other marketing channels what are you going to do if Google makes one of their many algorithm changes and your site drops a few places. Or worse, drops out of the listings entirely (very rare).

SEO isn’t dead, but if SEO was a Facebook relationship status it would be ‘It’s complicated’.