Over the last few months, we here at Kuno have observed, commented on, written about and generally participated in the fiery debate surrounding today’s state of SEO. The debate is mostly about terminology, semantics and nomenclature. However, most stakeholders in the debate still assume that where a website ranks is paramount to the success of an SEOs work at-large. Last year, Google ushered in a slew of changes to its algorithm, which has fundamentally changed SEO forever.
Corroborating evidence for the argument presented below:
These changes mean that in order for SEOs to get their clients to rank well, they need to create and publish lots of content, deploy social media marketing and perform PR (what we call inbound marketing) in addition to their traditional SEO work. Because of this, many feel the term SEO no longer suffices for describing what is required to rank well. Others want to use the term SEO as an umbrella term encompassing content marketing, social media marketing and certain PR functions.
Andy Betts does a really good job of describing these changes in the SEO landscape, what the new landscape looks like and what caused it in the Future of SEO: Change, Convergence, Collaboration. Miranda Miller in Nomenclature: The Industry Case For and Against SEO interviewed many SEO industry experts to gauge their opinion on the debate. Some want to keep SEO as a catch-all phrase while others use terms like inbound marketing, internet marketing optimization or earned media.
While many participating in the debate have good solid arguments, they all seem to be ignoring the new reality – where a website ranks no longer matters. SEO success has generally been measured by how high a website ranks for a particular set of keyword phrases. The way it should be measured is by how many keyword phrases drive traffic regardless of where the keywords rank.
Kuno received more than 100 visitors in the last few months, which converted at 2.5% for the phrase Facebook Like. Our website doesn’t even rank in the top 100 for that phrase. Now imagine the traffic impact of having 14,000 phrases like that driving traffic to a website. Google’s search personalization, search plus your world, SSL encryption, geographic factors and others have rendered ranking a moot point.
If where a website ranks no longer matters, what are SEOs supposed to do? If they want to maximize how many keyword phrases drive traffic, they need to create lots of content, publish it frequently and distribute it across social media channels. Do companies really need to hire an SEO for that? A journalist is probably much better equipped for that than an SEO.
Some might argue that you still need keyword research and on-page sculpting, but any journalist with half a brain can download an SEO cheat sheet and spend a few hours on Google’s keyword tool. Other's may want to talk about the need for link building. If a webmaster is publishing good content two to three times per day, distributing it via social media and engaging in PR tactics, the link building naturally takes care of itself.
Yes, this is a simplification of the process, but there’s still truth in it. Ideally, an enterprise level company would want to hire an existing SEO, inbound marketing or internet marketing company that’s equipped to create content daily, distribute it and engage via social media while deploying ongoing PR. However, for smaller companies that don’t dwell in competitive search environments like pills, porn or poker, hiring writers will deliver far better organic search engine traffic for the money.
It is for this reason and this reason only that the term SEO is in trouble. It doesn’t really matter what replaces it, but when companies start to figure out they can solve all of their search engine woes by simply creating a lot of good content on a regular basis and distributing it via social media, the term’s days will be numbered.
Pie Chart: MarketingTechBlog.com