Why SEO is really dead this time and what to do about It.

SEO is dead! SEO is dead! It’s always a great headline, and I know, I know, you’ve heard this story before. Every time Google changes its algorithm or a new social media technique takes off, it’s tempting to say that SEO is dead. And, viewed narrowly enough (SEO is keywords in titles or SEO is links), any of these changes might mean that SEO is dead for you–if that is all SEO was to you. But let’s take a look at some signs that SEO is really dead.

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There are four key reasons why it just might be true. SEO might really be dead this time.
  1. Google+. Google includes items from individual social streams into every user’s distinct search results. How can you optimize for multiple different search results when you don’t know what the individual people are looking at?
  2. Gmail in the search engine results pages. Google is piloting an opt-in program where search users can include their individual mailboxes in their search engine results pages. Again, how can you optimize for individual search results pages when those results include each individual user’s Gmail accounts?
  3. Pace of change. There have been over 500 google search updates this year. How can Google, or your customers, or anyone else for that matter, expect you to keep up with all those changes?
  4. Panda and Penguin. These updates are deliberately designed to catch “over-optimization.” Okay to be fair they’re really trying to catch spam. But many of the now-penalized activities were once common SEO techniques. And, while the team here at Biznology offers webinars to help you navigate Panda and Penguin and outline Penguin-safe link-building techniques, the long-term trend is clear. Google’s trying to crack down on anything “too SEO” in favor of quality content.

Which, to be fair, is really more good news than bad. As I just suggested, Google’s practices actually reward you when you help your customers. They have even said,

“Our advice for webmasters is to focus on creating high quality sites that create a good user experience and employ white-hat SEO methods instead of engaging in aggressive web spam tactics.”

In other words you’re not optimizing for Google, you’re optimizing for customers

So, how do you do that?

Well, first tell your brand story. What are your values? What are the things that matter to you? And what is your value to customers (i.e. why should they care)?

Solve your customer issues. Listen to what your customers say about you on social channels. And, more important, listen to what your customers care about whether they’re not talking about you.

Use content marketing and your blog, Twitter and Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn to answer your customers’ key questions. The more effectively you do that the more effectively you’re actually creating content that is valuable to your customers. And the more you’re doing a good job of what Google says: “…creating high quality sites and creating a good user experience.”

By definition any of these techniques employ white-hat SEO methods because you’ll be generating interest and you’ll be generating links organically, attracting attention by addressing customers needs.

The key takeaway is this: If you take care of your customer, Google will take care of you.

So is SEO really dead? Eh… maybe. In truth, it doesn’t matter. But it’s a fact that using your online marketing to do the right things for your customers will never die.

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Tim Peter

Tim Peter built his first website in 1995 and loves that he still gets to do that every day. Tim has spent almost two decades figuring out where customers are, how they interact with brands online, and delivering those customers to his clients’ front door. These efforts have generated billions of dollars in revenue and reduced costs.

Tim works with client organizations to build effective teams focused on converting browsers to buyers and building their brand and business. He helps those companies discover how marketing, technology, and analytics tie together to drive business results. He doesn't get excited because of the toys or tech. He gets excited because of what it all means for the bottom line.

An expert in e-commerce and digital marketing strategy, web development, search marketing, and analytics, Tim focuses on the growth of the social, local, mobile web and its impact on both consumer behavior and business results. He is a member of the Search Engine Marketers Professional Organization (SEMPO), HSMAI, and the Digital Analytics Association.

Tim currently serves as Senior Advisor at SoloSegment, a marketing technology company that uses machine learning and natural language processing to improve engagement and conversion for large enterprise, B2B companies.

Tim Peter’s recent client work covers a wide range of digital marketing activities including developing digital and mobile marketing strategies, creating digital product roadmaps, assessing organizational capabilities, and conducting vendor evaluations for diverse clients including major hospitality companies, real estate brands, SaaS providers, and marketing agencies.

Prior to launching Tim Peter & Associates, LLC, a full-service e-commerce and internet marketing consulting firm in early 2011, he worked with the world’s largest hotel franchisor, the world’s premier independent luxury hotel representation firm, and a major financial services firm, developing various award-winning products and services for his customers. Tim can be reached at tim@timpeter.com or by phone at 201-305-0055.

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