If there’s one constant in the world of search engine optimization (SEO), it’s that people love throwing out predictions that it’s dead (or at least dying).
It’s happened, to some degree, with every algorithm update Google has released. It happened with the leap from keyword-driven search to organic, content-driven search. It happened when Facebook and other social networks started gaining popularity.
And now, with the push towards artificial intelligence and voice search, it’s happening again.
Reports of SEO’s death are as predictable as the tides. They happen frequently enough that there’s even an entire web domain dedicated to quelling the myth, seoisdead.net. Right there on the homepage, the author refers to SEO being dead as one of the oldest cliches on the internet.
The simple truth is that SEO is functionally immortal. As long as search engines and the wider web are around, it will persist in some form. Because at its core, SEO is about optimizing your content so that Google’s likelier to show it to the people you want to pull in.
And if you think for a moment that Google is no longer relevant, per data-driven media agency Visual Capitalist, Google users in 2019 generated 3.8 million search queries a minute.
So if search engines are still so relevant, and SEO is all about curating content so it plays nice with search engines, why do so many people trumpet its demise every other month?
Either they don’t actually understand SEO, or they’re trying to fleece people. What’s true about SEO is that it’s evolved. Certain tactics and strategies that worked in the early days are no longer relevant.
Keyword stuffing and link farming used to be valid ranking strategies. Exact match domains used to be a great way to place, and content spamming was once a great way to bring more people to your site. Today, these strategies are a waste of time at best, and a route towards penalization or blacklisting at worst.
If someone believed SEO was solely about keywords and technical elements, it’s not inconceivable they would believe SEO to be dead. Traditional SEO still plays an important role, but it’s much diminished if you don’t tackle the other aspects of website marketing. Optimizing your site today is about more than technical, on-page elements.
It’s about content. It’s about what you do on social media. It’s about guest posts and user engagement and natural language.
SEO, in other words, is part of a greater whole. Someone who believed SEO to be all about black hat tactics or meta descriptions or on-page keywords might be right in believing SEO to be dead. The practice as they knew it is dead and gone.
But at the end of the day, that just means they didn’t really know it all.