SEO is DEAD? (a different view...)

Ok, I give up.

I have not written about this topic before. The idea that “SEO is dead“, that is.

But, I saw a post today, and for the umpteenth (that’s a real number!) time in one of the forums where the good Internet crowd is discussing the viability of SEO and it’s use.

Is it here to stay, or is it more like a rotting tree? Should a webmaster and marketing teams not place as much weight on it? Or, perhaps the hardcore stance some say: “don’t bother with SEO”.

The main focus of conversation this week was around Social Media (you know, Twitter, Facebook, etc) and that it has taken over, and has minimized the importance or value of SEO (search engine optimization).

So here’ my take, and it’s OFFICIAL, ok?

“Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results.”

SEO is not dead, never will be, never can be.


Because as long as search is both a necessity (it is) and a tool (that too) used by few to millions of people, it must be optimized for the them. Most users are not smart. Anybody with their head screwed on straight will recognize this. We all need help.

Even a simple address book search system on a desktop needs to be optimized or the user will find some other way, or un-install the app. There needs to be an easy, fast, efficient way to store and retrieve data and the engagement (user experience) with it.

When SEO is discussed, eyes and ears look to Google, the search giant.

Optimizing websites or assets to get placed high in the search engines is a valuable exercise. (Do you know what a keyword is worth when found in the #1 position in Google?).

And, the more useful, friendly and accessible you make those assets, the more Google, other search engines, their investors and YOU will love it (you’ll find what you’re looking for, i.e. “relevancy”). And, SEO is not just about your website pages, it’s about all things search: videos, images, local search, news, books and more (Universal or blended search).

And, since content and links (internal/external to your websites) are front and center when it comes to SEO, including having the technical issues working right of a high performing website (easily found, fast loading, relevant, navigable and highly converting) – it is impossible to declare SEO as dead, dying or gone. Rather, it may be a fight of “labels”. Google has said it includes social ‘signals’ in their algorithm.  Social media gets a lot of love in the press. Most don’t know what SEO is, and some know of Social Media (referring to it by brand name, like I did just then… don’t have time to explain it here). That’s not to say the JOB of an SEO hasn’t changed. It was simpler before (not always easy) – and today – you have to become a more 360-view type marketer, and learn the power of inbound marketing.

At the end of the day, Google will look at content, links and users (social activity/sharing) and determine the most relevant results for a query. And, it includes “time” and “freshness” data too. For example, an older page around “Lady Diana” may rank well today, but when a new story breaks on social media (social user networks), blogs, others – new pages may/will get a rise that day, that week, only to then die down, and the original page becomes visible again. And, the entire site is now becoming a factor of ‘health & quality’ for search.

Spamming the search engines is a BIG issue. Handling a million+ spam requests a day – and figuring this all out is the job of the highly intellectual and well paid scientists and PhD’s roaming Google’s Mountain View campus and around the world. They know there is a lot of spam in the social realm, and software and apps are rampant in this regard. Even the new Google+ social signals can be tampered with.

However, this entire discussion is “relative”. For example, if you have a website that is performing well, has a lot of rich content, and gains visitors, subscribers daily and is growing in rankings, traffic every month – you’ll still be far away from the competition if you have a brand new website and competing for a term like “weight loss”.  You can employ all kinds of SEO and SOCIA MEDIA strategies, and still be dragging. You could do massive work on the social media front and get traffic and visitors, but little movement in the search engines. You need a comprehensive strategy these days.

Formula for SEO SUCCESS = Content (keywords) + Links + People ==> Conversion

Formula for SOCIAL MEDIA SUCCESS = Content (and eventually…links) + People ==> Word of Mouth ==> Conversion (maybe)

Can you see how powerful the combinations can be? SEO is more valuable to the conversion metric, which is the most important to a business. (thinking profits here, not branding).

Well, nothing has changed since the word SEO appeared. If you have a great site with useful, relevant content that people will share (linking to it and possibly sharing it socially), it is naturally going to get a higher listing in the search engine results.

Social media simply adds to the power of SEO, but doesn’t replace it. A well executed social media campaign with a crappy website will not work. All parts must play together.

Therefore, start with your content, your connections (in the blogging world, connections are more important than content – at least if you are beginner) and your conversions. Yep, call it the secret formula for online success: C3. (cheesy, but it works!)

What do you think? Is SEO dead?


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Entrepreneur Magazine says Jon Rognerud is one of the most sought-after Digital Marketing Experts. His clients extend from high-end brands and middle-tier businesses in both B2B and B2C. His SEO website optimization book, "The Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Website" from Entrepreneur Press is in bookstores now.