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SEO is dead – no really this time – it apparently might be

Or is SEO just getting some context? 5 ideas for resetting your SEO agenda

I’m not a fan of lightly making big, idle statements and this one has been made before. I say ‘SEO is dead’ now because the industry and culture of SEO, is fast transitioning. SEO Moz, or as they’re now called ‘Moz’, dropping the SEO element of the brand name. Of course SEO is not dead, it's simply now viewed in context, for what it is - one important practice in digital marketing.

When the SEO Juggernaut, ‘SEO Moz’, goes to the lengths of not only re-branding but changing their URL (that can be cataclysmically bad news for an SEO minded out-fit judging by the impact on Econsultancy when they dropped their hyphen), it illustrates just how important it is for them to move away from the pure ‘SEO’ label, a label that seems so dated now. Note that they’re heading into ‘Inbound Marketing’ now - where content, social and search combine. Though I’d suggest that ‘inbound’ is still narrow, simply describes the affect of what is simply content marketing done well. But maybe that’s just me.

We can see this SEO Moz style shift amongst SEO agencies too - increasingly turning from Search experts into integrated, full-service, content, creative, social, optimising, digital marketing agencies. The SEO label is now too one dimensional?

A dispassion for silver bullets

I’ve always felt frustrated with the snake oil element of SEO practise - a cure of all my digital marketing ills? "Get to No.1 in Google rankings for only $1000 month". The years of hoopla and confusion - I’m glad we can all now view search engine presence with a wider context and some common sense. I started in marketing at a time when people were advertising obsessed, before the temporary PR bug, and eventually the Google driven SEO industry that spear-headed the growth of online marketing. I’m glad it’s had its day, let’s hope that we can be sure to contextualise marketing based on consumer behaviour and preferences, over a brand’s channel preferences.

Marketing in an information rich world

The reason why we’re seeing the shift away from pure SEO, I believe, is because we’re in such an information rich world, a world that’s infinitely more informed and connected than Google’s search engine alone can facilitate. Information now finds us. Tech empowered consumers battle their way through more and more information, using more devices across more websites and networks than we probably could have imagined only 10 years ago. It’s not cost effective, ethical or really possible to approach off-page SEO in the same way that we used to. And often, building a presence on high quality, high-ranking intermediary websites is much more manageable and cost effective.

Of course your site’s search ranking is very important, just less than it used to be due to the wider options that we have available. It's time now to take a wider view and see SEO in context.

5 ideas for re-thinking your SEO agenda…

  1. “Content is the new marketing”: How many times do we see iterations of that statement. Content has always been central to SEO success, and still is, but no it’s not new at all. How long have print magazines been around with advertorials, or company owned magazines? Comfortably the early 20th Century if not the 19th? Either way, it’s roughly 100 years before the Internet as we now know it. Delivering value to users and customers to earn attention, build relationships and engender trust using content is very old. On this point - content marketing remains multi-channel, and so not necessarily digital, all of the time.
  2. Authority and trust: Old school SEO’s try to buy it, they’re interested in links at almost any cost, from link farms to link purchasing. Links are votes, Google values natural links, we should EARN and scale back-links if you want to put them safely in the bank and build trust - and an enviable momentum that money cannot buy.
  3. Forget SEO and forget Google: OK, not totally but hear me out. On-site optimisation - perfect - refine this art. The art of site development and copy-writing - as important as ever and not easy. Just stop getting fixated, especially with off-site SEO and back-links, it’s the means over the end - customers, visitors, whatever it is that your website is serving. Focus on them, Google is naturally on your side that way - they’re supporting you, the good guys. Despite how it might sometimes feel 🙂
  4. Content marketing is the most SEO-PR relevant domain: In some ways of course it is, and always was for the authentic brands doing the hard work. The difference is content is focussed on a value exchange, not more promotion in a different format. Create and promote content when you have something useful to say. Content marketing is also a genuine expansion from pure campaign led marketing to a marketing process based way of thinking.
  5. Marketing is (and always has been) about people: Ask yourself “how can [your brand] be valuable in the service or entertainment of people”? The vast amounts of information, technologies and changes in customer behaviour now offer you this opportunity. An opportunity to make sense of it for your consumer. Evolve your marketing strategy to be about generating value on the one hand (inspire, inform, educate, entertain) and highly engaging on the other hand as a result. Coke’s 2020 vision does a great job of contextualising content, and so SEO, as a result to drive the inbound effect that ‘Moz’ are re-positioning to talk about.

As ever - we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Danyl Bosomworth

By Danyl Bosomworth

Dan helped to co-found Smart Insights in 2010 and acted as Marketing Director until leaving in November 2014 to focus on his other role as Managing Director of First 10 Digital. His experience spans brand development and digital marketing, with roles both agency and client side for nearly 20 years. Creative, passionate and focussed, his goal is on commercial success whilst increasing brand equity through effective integration and remembering that marketing is about real people. Dan's interests and recent experience span digital strategy, social media, and eCRM. You can learn more about Dan's background here Linked In.

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