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Is SEO A Dying Industry?

Ryan Darani
November 2, 2020
Year after year digital marketers asks themselves the same question. 'Is SEO dead? Is it a dying industry?'
I find it hugely surprising when this rhetoric rears its ugly head at the end of the year. I find myself asking why SEO is in the limelight so much.
The outstanding answer is no. The SEO industry is not dead. And, in fact, I suspect SEO will become more important over the next 5-10 years.
As more businesses adopt an online model and with more Governments encouraging SMEs to learn more about digital strategies, the more SEO will prove its worth. Digital marketing is a mix of various channels and I believe SEO has/is undervalued. 
Either through lack of knowledge or otherwise, the SEO industry has been tarnished with a brush that should've been left in the early 2000s.

Why do people say SEO is dead?

The simple answer to this is a lack of understanding. Followed shortly after by SEO has been hugely complicated by SEO professionals. And I get why.
There are some elements of SEO that are extremely complicated. Your average site or business owner's eyes will begin to glaze over as soon as you talk about faceted navigations or PWAs.
And it's these topics that make the wider collective believe that SEO is a dying industry. I think another consideration is that people want to rank at the top of Google without paying for SEO. I don't think SEO is respected enough by the wider collective audience (just my views).
They're simply too complicated for people to grasp quickly. And the easy alternative is to migrate to PPC, social advertising or email marketing. All of which play a huge part in any SEO campaign.
And vice versa. Something I think should die-off is that SEO is a dark art. Reserved for only a few. It's not, it's for everyone. But like anything, not everyone has the time, and not everyone cares about learning it.

Is SEO still important?

With COVID and lockdown 2.0 now officially announced, digital marketing (and marketing budgets) will be in the firing line. However, SEO proved how valuable it can be to your business during times where physical store visits are prohibited. The results you can get from SEO are sustained through continued budget being allocated to it every month. So if you make the decision to reduce your on-page SEO or your link building efforts, expect to see a drop in organic traffic and rankings. 
So, absolutely. SEO is incredibly important. Google will still be the most popular search engine during any (and all) pandemics.

Do the top search media outlets get it wrong?

Every journalist has one job: attract as many eyeballs as possible. Does that mean the SEO industry gets it wrong sometimes? Absolutely. It's like every industry in the world. If one major search outlet releases an article shouting 'Is SEO dead?' - trends will begin to emerge. It's natural. I recommend paying attention to the search engine result pages (SERPs) during these times. If you've been paying attention to your competitors all year, then you'll see any movements to their SEO strategy.
Companies like Forbes wouldn't be my first choice to find out if SEO is dying. I'd rather try companies like Search Engine Journal. Or rely on popular Twitter feeds to get the best insight.

It's not all just keywords and rankings 

Trust me, it's not. I know at least 20 different SEOs who look at very specific areas of search engines and their signals who would argue this point. 
SEO is about creating a website for a business that solves all of their audience's problems. Whether that's with a product or service, or helpful content, it's about the experience. The result of that experience is conversions, traffic growth, improved rankings (yes, it's apart of it), brand awareness, PR, online authority and revenue. 
If you look at SEO in isolation, you'll never see the benefit. Or, you might, but it's not the full picture. SEO has helped millions of businesses all over the world thrive online. 

Paid marketing vs. Organic search

When the argument of PPC vs. SEO comes into question, I always find it interesting. I won't make too many comments about PPC vs. SEO because a quick Google search will tell you all you need to know. But here's my two pennies...

SEO and PPC (or paid marketing of any sort) should work in tandem; not isolation. If you want short-term traffic to a page you've just spent a week building an optimising for SEO, then PPC comes in handy. If you want to eventually reduce spend on paid ads and rely on organic traffic, then SEO comes in handy.

Which leads me to my next point.

Paid search and SEO are related through KPIs

What is your main goal as a marketer? Whether your work for clients or you work in-house? My view is to get as many people onto my website or specific pages as possible. How I do that should depend on what the best avenue is for growth. Whether I combine PPC and paid social with SEO, or if I used e-mail marketing. It doesn't matter. 

SEO still plays a major part in the overall picture of driving revenue and growth. But no marketing channel should be viewed in isolation. Everything should work holistically. If you focus on the KPIs of your business, rather than specific rankings or budgets, you'll get much better results.

Is Google killing the SEO industry?

This, this I can believe.
There has been an ongoing battle between Google and SEOs ever since I started my career over 5 years ago. The battle of power and mystery surrounding Google's algorithms has always seemingly put SEOs on the back foot.
Google has continued to try and evolve its algorithms to make organic search more reliable for users. Google wants people to search for a question and get the best result for that query. At face value, that sounds really simple.
Write great content that answers your customer's questions and you'll win. You'll so exactly what Google asks for. If it were that easy, I wouldn't have a job. It's the nuances of search engines that makes SEO interesting.
But it's certainly not dead and Google is only trying to better the experience for the user. Whether at the expense of an online business or not. They don't care.

Why SEO isn't a dying industry

COVID proved that sustaining your business online can be the deciding factor between profit and loss. With a huge surge in online commerce, it highlighted the businesses who invested in SEO and those who didn't.
This is proof that SEO isn't dying. It just isn't as widely adopted as Google Ads. Or Facebook ads.
If you know the story of how I helped my Dad generate £30,000 through SEO, you'll know why I strongly believe in the SEO industry. And the absolute geniuses that help businesses all over the world.
What you should understand is that SEO forms a critical part of any digital marketing strategy. Sometimes you might not realise how/why and that's why education on SEO or Google's algorithms is so important.

Tips for survival

My tips for ignoring headlines that scream 'SEO is a dying industry' is to simply do that; ignore them. Don't worry about what journalists say or what other SEOs say. Focus on what works for you and your business. Whether you're a small, medium or large business, the opportunity is always out there. Is SEO always the first (or best) choice? No. Not always. But do I think it always comes into the picture? Absolutely.

Future of SEO

The future of SEO as an industry will remain stable at worst, but I anticipate huge growth in the next 5-10 years. SEO will become a more widely accepted discipline of marketing. I believe there will be an influx of companies who want to introduce SEO into their business or, people who want to learn the art of ranking websites.

If you want to book a 30-minute call with me, I'd love to help you see how SEO could benefit your business.
Hey, I'm Ryan! I'm a SEO consultant with years of experience beating Google's algorithms. I've worked with huge global brands and, incredible local startups so, I use that experience and knowledge, to try and help new (and experienced) SEOs!

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