Search engine optimization (SEO) has come a long way since its inception. Long gone are the days when stuffing your content with keywords and buying links were acceptable practices that even SEO companies used. Nowadays, search engines have become highly sophisticated, and the requisite for ranking high in search results has changed dramatically.
But, in spite of SEO’s evolution throughout the years, many are still skeptical about its ability to pass the test of time. Ever since its inception, concerned, skeptical or just mean voices have been foretelling SEO’s doom. Now more than ever, with the advancement of social media and artificial intelligence, businesses are wondering what will the future of SEO hold and if it’s still worth it to invest in it.
Will SEO still exist in five years or is it a dying practice? Should a marketing agency continue to offer SEO services or should it focus on other areas of digital marketing?
Let’s find out.
The Evolution of SEO
In its early days, Google’s algorithm was clunky and limited, even a bit sloppy. It only considered a few factors when displaying content in search results. Evidently, webmasters and marketers took advantage of its simplicity to skyrocket their pages to top results.
But, here’s a vital distinction: at that time, SEO wasn’t a marketing strategy, but a straightforward way that anybody could use to get popular. For example, all you had to do was repeat the same instance of a particular keyword a bunch of times, and your page would rank number one in SERPs. It was that easy!
However, starting with 2003, Google realized the divisive way businesses were using the search engine, so it decided to add new ranking factors into the equation to prevent scams and opportunism. They’ve also added new rules and penalties for those sites that employed unethical practices, such as keyword stuffing, duplicating their content or buying links.
The State of SEO in 2018
Ever since 2003, Google introduced a series of developments that firmly eliminated sites that use black hat techniques to gain a competitive advantage. As such, nowadays, SEO is no longer a way that businesses could cheat their way to the top of search results, but a commitment to providing the best experiences. The pages that rank high are there for a reason: the content they offer helps, educates, and adds value to users’ lives.
Here’s just an example: just a few years back, guest blogging was an extremely popular and a surefire way to boost your ranking. Things got so out of hand that even SEO expert and former Google representative Matt Cutts announced at some point that the search engine frowns upon this practice.
But, with the new Penguin update, Google introduced a smart way of analyzing inbound links, rewarding sites with natural inbound links and penalizing those who affiliate themselves only for the sole purpose of getting a rank boost.
Yes, SEO Is Hard, but It’s Not Obsolete
There’s no denying that search engine optimization can often feel like rocket science. Just when you thought you got the hang of the game, Google’s algorithm undergoes a massive change that forces you to reconsider your entire strategy. It can feel like Sisyphean work, so there’s no wonder that many are questioning the efficacy of SEO.
But, here’s what you need to understand: Google isn’t changing its algorithm just because it made a purpose of tormenting you. The search engine giant is just responding to changes in online search habits. Users expect relevant and accurate results and won’t think twice before changing their query if they can’t find what they’re looking for on the first page. As such, Google is tweaking its algorithm to meet users’ needs. Evidently, businesses must comply with the changes if they want to dominate Google search. That means providing a flawless user experience and great content.
So, Will SEO Still Be around Five Years from Now?
The rapid evolution of technology and the emerging concept of an Internet of Things that keeps devices like automated cars, smartwatches or lightning solutions connected to the Internet make a lot of business owners wonder how will the landscape of SEO look in the future. Given all the advancements in online marketing, social media, and the introduction of machine learning solution, will SEO still exist five or ten years from now?
The answer is YES. Regardless of the new devices and technology that comes our way, we are still going to use search engines to look for the products and businesses that meet our needs best. What will change, however, is the way people perform these searches.
For instance, it’s very likely that instead of typing, consumers will use voice search and assistants like Cortana, Siri or Google Now to look for the things that interest them. That means that you will have to change your strategy and adapt it to the new reality. For example, nowadays people use head terms when searching online because it’s more effective and convenient. But, in the future, when people will begin talking to virtual assistants, they are more likely to use complete and complex sentences. As such, you will need to optimize your content for long tail keywords rather than head terms.
SEO isn’t going anywhere. It will continue to be relevant and an essential digital marketing component even a decade from now. Instead of wondering about the future of SEO, focus on creating quality content, making your web design responsive, and buckle up for the revolution.
SEO is complex, demanding, and time-consuming. It can take a village to keep pace with all the changes and keep your business relevant. But, that’s why we’re here! Head on to Australian Internet Advertising and schedule a free consultation to learn more about our services.