Alas, Poor SEO! I Knew Him, HoratEO…

Alas, poor Seorick!“Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath borne me on his back a thousand times, and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is!” -Hamlet, Act 5, Scene 1

Recently, there have been number of articles and even a couple videos on the web that have directly addressed what many in the industry have known for a while. No, not that SEO is dead. Because it isn’t. On the other hand, if you’ve seen SEO you know it’s not looking so great. But, not dead.  

It’s important to understand, here, that what I have meant by “SEO” is really “SEO as we’ve known it” – traditional, technical, on-site, on-page, link-building, anything-to-rise-in-the-SERPs, wild-wild-wild-west SEO, which we now see riding somewhat ungracefully into the sunset.

But, SEO is not dead. It is transforming.

This ongoing metamorphosis, prompted by drastic changes in the way search engines evaluate websites, is in a direction away from mere mechanical tactics, and toward the need for an organic and integrated marketing strategy.

So what does this actually mean for our old friend SEO?

SEO is no longer a stand-alone silo. It is part of a larger and integrated whole, functioning toward a unified marketing goal.

SEO is no longer the pursuit of ranking as an end in itself. It is part of a larger strategy of lead generation, lead nurturing and conversion.

SEO is no longer about “gaming” the search engines to rise in the SERPs, but part of a larger marketing and branding strategy that seeks to provide the best possible customer experience, which will then deliver to the search engines various signals of genuine authority and relevance.

Now, make no mistake, some of the old SEO tactics and techniques still work. And some will continue to work, including:

  • On-site and on-page elements, such as:
    • properly optimized file paths and file names
    • properly optimized page title tags
    • properly optimized H1 and H2 header tags
    • appropriate and non-stuffed keyword usage in your copy
  • User experience factors, such as:
    • site download speed links to other relevant pages on your site
    • title tags on links
    • alt tags on images
  • Inbound links, excluding paid links or links from “bad neighborhoods,” and preferably links that have been earned by having great content

So, SEO clearly still has a role to play, but it is increasingly a role that has meaning only as it relates to other factors, and to the overarching (and underpinning) integrated marketing strategy.

As an example of this, let’s say a page on your site is ranking number one for a particular search term, and this has been driving more traffic to your website. More traffic is definitely a good thing, but do you know how well your landing page(s) function toward conversion? A poorly designed landing page will negate the benefit of more traffic.

Similarly, are you getting high traffic only from very generic search terms, which represent customers in the initial phases of their research and, therefore, not ready to convert? If so, might you rather get traffic from the more specific “long tail” keywords, which generate lower traffic, but typically represent customers further along in their decision making and therefore closer to conversion? Perhaps it would be best to rank for both sets of customers, using content specifically designed for both groups toward the end of lead generation, nurturing and conversion?

Ranking and traffic still matter, but as tactics within a larger strategy.

So, it turns out SEOrick (groan!) still has a few kicks left in him. He just has to remember that now he’s part of the team!

by Brian Tibbs