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Why Is Everyone Saying SEO Is Dead?
The other day my boss asked me if I thought I could find a place on Etsy or something that would make custom Matt Cutts’ earrings—as in earrings with Matt Cutts’ face on them. His man crush on Matt Cutts is mildly disturbing at times, but my only options are to go along with it or try to figure out how to monetize the grilled cheese recipe blog I’m too lazy to write and too lactose intolerant to execute for when I inevitably get fired.
Side note: my coworker Alex Perini has a pair of Google Bot earrings (nerd alert!). Close enough, right?
Where is all of this going? Oh right. I was browsing Matt Cutts’ Twitter feed the other day with the same fervor that normal 24-year-old females probably devour their monthly subscription to Cosmopolitan when I stumbled upon this little 140-character show stopper:
Search Engine Land refers to Jill Whalen as “one of the first major personalities in the SEO industry”—with an SEO career of nearly 20 years. In a recent newsletter, she announced that she was moving on from SEO. One of her main reasons was that recent Google updates (such as the Penguin and Panda updates) have essentially eliminated the need to do SEO:
“Finally, however, Google put their money where their mouth was with their Panda and Penguin updates. At last the only real way to do SEO was what I had been espousing all along. And it’s a beautiful thing! Today’s SEO blogs and conferences are bursting with SEO consultants talking about how, when you create amazing websites and content for your users, the search engines will follow….Which means, my friends, that my work here is done.”
Do Google Updates Eliminate the Need for SEO?
My boss—a.k.a. President of the Matt Cutts’ fan club—likes to distinguish between SEO and SEO trickery. According to Big Ben Landers, SEO trickery involves all the things companies do that are misleading to Google (as well as consumers) in order to improve their search engine rankings.
Recent Google algorithm updates aimed at reducing webspam and preventing irrelevant or unworthy sites from ranking have helped to eliminate a lot of this trickery—including paid link schemes, spun and duplicate content, keyword stuffing, and more.
Need proof? Our top traffic-producing blog post of ALL time is “How to Tell if Your Site Has Been Penalized by Google Penguin.” We get plenty of calls from companies wondering why their Google rankings have gone down and what they need to do to get back in Google’s good graces. Clearly, plenty of people and companies are feeling the hurt from the Google webspam hammer.
Obviously, the Google updates are not flawless and probably never will be. We still see plenty of SEO trickery that’s working these days, like when someone pays a company to:
- Create one (or a couple) poorly written article(s)
- Create dozens of variations of them (typically with ‘article spinning software’)
- Post them on thousands of blogs and websites that they own (a private blog network)
- Link back to your business with a target keyword phrase (like, ‘Denver plumbing company’)
So while Jill Whalen claims that there’s no real need for SEO anymore, I wouldn’t go as far as to call it dead. Rather, SEO trickery is (for the most part) dead.
What’s Left of SEO
There are other portions of SEO that are still alive and thriving—mainly, the parts that attribute to user experience—site speed, mobile responsiveness, breadcrumb navigation, etc. Not all of the SEO strategies left, however, seem to directly cater to the user experience, but rather, to making it easy for Google to crawl and index your site. For example, as a user, I care very little about XML sitemaps on the sites I visit even though it’s one of the best ways to make sure Google can crawl and understand how your site is structured.
Even if you could argue that SEO is dead, well executed content marketing definitely isn’t.
In addition to these “technical” aspects of SEO that still matter for getting ranked on Google, you also still need content.
“Of course you’re going to tell me I still need content, Lexie,” you might say. “Because if SEO and content marketing BOTH kick the bucket, you’re probably going to have to move back in with your parents.”
First of all, I think I’m really on to something with that grilled cheese recipe blog. Second of all, I have plenty of evidence that content marketing not only works, but is one of the ONLY ways left to market your business:
Google still needs content.
In a blog post titled “Does Google Still Need Text,” The Great Ben Landers wrote that although Google’s technology is technically improving, it’s not going to use Optical Character Recognition (OCR) anytime soon to translate the text in the images on your website—a.k.a. if you want to rank on Google, you still need a decent volume of well-written content on every page of your site.
The more content you have on your site, the more likely you are to rank.
Blue Corona works closely with a lot of companies in the home service industry, so in 2012, we built a piece of software to crawl, analyze, and score various websites based on all the measurable SEO ranking factors.
All in all, we’ve reviewed more than 9,000 HVAC/plumbing company websites and over 3,000 window and door websites. One of the things we found is that websites that rank well organically tend to have a lot of text-based content on each page of their website. The highest ranking HVAC and plumbing websites have, on average, nearly 900 words per page. Content appears to be even more important in the window and door industry. The highest ranking window and door sites had, on average, just north of 1,600 words per page.
The smallest case study in the world—blogging five times a week is an amazing traffic generator.
What you’re looking at here is visits to Blue Corona’s site where one of our blog posts was the landing page:
As part of a little experiment, we decided to start blogging five days a week in June 2013. While we were initially disappointed by the results, we kept at it. Sure enough, we finally saw a significant jump in traffic last month. We plan to keep blogging until our fingers fall off—in which case we’ll have to order that software that translates spoken word into text.
“I Don’t Have Time to Blog Five Times a Week; I Have a Business to Run.”
That’s cool. Even though some people are saying SEO is dead, the great thing about me and my coworkers at Blue Corona is that we’re writers first and SEO nerds second—not the other way around. This means that not only can we provide you with a kickass content marketing strategy to get you ranking well in search engines (to get your business more traffic, leads, and sales from the Web), but we’ll also make sure your content doesn’t read like an outsourced company in India wrote it.
Contact us today to get more information about our content marketing services. If you tell them I sent you, I’ll rewrite your homepage for free. If you’re wondering where you can get your own pair of earrings, give us a call and ask for Alex Perini.
About The Author: Blue Corona is a data-driven online marketing company with offices in Gaithersburg, MD and Charlotte, N.C.
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