SEO is dead: discuss

Search marketing has undergone a transformation with the much publicised Google updates including Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird. Has this killed SEO altogether?

PiranhaBy Paul Airey, director of Piranha.

That depends on what you understand by SEO. If you’re picturing a series of shortcuts to help skew ranking results - such as overstuffing of key words, purchasing poor quality links or having listings on thousands of pointless directories - then I am glad to report that SEO is dead.

But more accurately, SEO has just grown up. Google has around 91% of the UK search market with approximately 85% of website interaction coming from the first page, so the economic pressure to have a website ranked highly on Google is enormous. Site owners and SEO companies have spotted the huge financial gains available and exploited the weaknesses in the search engine algorithms.

Google has started to catch up with those who identified shortcuts. The result, search engines hope, is that search results will continually improve, delivering websites that are technically better, provide a better user experience, better content and will interact with social platforms. Whether the ultimate goal is to push more companies to the necessity of ‘paid for’ advertising platforms is not for me to say, but the facts are clear: the loopholes and shortcuts are closing.

However, search engines are still the number one source of new business for many industry sectors. The game is still the same, but the rules have changed. SEO specialists now have to adhere to the rules to avoid penalties. They have to be more creative in their link building, ensuring the site is technically perfect on all platforms, ensuring the optimum performance of the server and focusing on on-site content supported by off-site marketing and PR. Whilst the changes implemented by the major search engines have badly affected many sites and SEO companies, in the long term it can only be a good thing as it continues to increase the professionalism of the online marketing community and as users, we should all see more accurate results.