Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) has played a crucial role in making the internet what it is today for well over two decades.
Despite it being a critical marketing technique for businesses representing themselves online, many marketers thought it was a fad that would simply die out after a few years. Some still believe this.
It’s an industry that has to adapt constantly to changing search algorithms, which can make it frustrating and incredibly challenging. Now, with the increase in artificial intelligence, voice and video search, and social media, does this mean that SEO is finally nearing the end of its limited lifespan?
As an SEO myself, I’d like to think not. But, let’s take a look at the facts and figure out if SEO will die.
Is SEO Dead?
The topic of SEO being dead is circulated online almost every year. It’s been doing the rounds ever since its birth some 25 years ago, yet here we are in 2022, still thriving in the world of Search Engine Optimisation.
So, why do people make claims that SEO is dead in the first place?
First and foremost, SEO today isn’t what it was back then. Gone are the days of keyword stuffing and paying £50 for an influx of backlinks to get you to the top of Google. SEO is a much more challenging and strategic game now, and people don’t like change.
Search engines are making it increasingly more difficult to rank highly. The tightening of standards and increased complexity of algorithms means that business owners struggle to see the impact of their SEO efforts. So, if it’s not working for them then SEO must be dead, right?
We’re losing space
We’ve witnessed the space for organic listings shrink right before our eyes. Search engines are prioritising paid ads (unsurprisingly, it’s a smart business move) which makes the fight for top-of-the-page organic presence even tougher.
On top of this, we’ve got other features such as Google’s question boxes pushing organic listings even further below the fold. Whilst a handy feature for users, it’s also contributing to the rise of zero-click searches.
Users being presented with the answer to their question means they’re less likely to click through to the website, which can be detrimental if you rely on website traffic. On the flip side, it shows you’re an authority on the subject and puts your business right in front of potential customers which can’t be such a bad thing.
Despite all of this, 53% of website traffic comes from organic search. So, that doesn’t sound like SEO is dead.
Artificial intelligence is taking over
The rise of machine learning and AI sparks concerns that the need for SEO will soon be obsolete.
Technology such as Google’s RankBrain algorithm means that less value is placed on exact keyword matches and metrics such as backlinks and Domain Authority. Instead, AI is learning what people are searching for (no matter how vague) and adjusting the rankings to suit.
Greater value is then placed on how people are interacting with those search results. User experience metrics such as click-through rate, dwell time and bounce rate are used to judge if users found that page valuable or not. RankBrain may then tweak the algorithm itself to reflect how well each listing performed.
So, if Google is getting smarter and keywords are almost becoming useless then it must be game over for SEO.
Why SEO won’t die
SEO is very much alive and kicking, and will be for many years to come. For as long as search engines exist, so will SEO.
The need for content creation will never end
SEO is a core part of the online world. Search engines are built on the development of content, and it will always need to be optimised to reach the right people.
Think about it, search engines wouldn’t continuously update their algorithms if SEO was no longer needed. Their main goal is to provide the best user experience possible so they’ll keep coming back, and they do this by offering up the most content-rich pages first. How would they be able to do this without the creation of rich content?
Content will always be prioritised above all else.
Users will never stop searching
Most of us won’t be afraid to admit that when we have a question, we’re heading straight to Google to find the answer. It’s a habit that’s become ingrained in us because it’s easy and accessible.
There are approximately 106,778 Google searches per second and there’s no sign of this slowing down. We’ll be using search engines for as long as they’re around, so content still needs to be produced to answer these questions and offer up solutions to problems. And this content needs to be optimised to get it in front of the user.
The demand for search is only getting greater
We rely on the power of technology to perform simple tasks and give us instant solutions. Technology makes us lazier, it’s a fact. And this technology is only being improved upon to make things even easier.
From learning how to make the perfect iced latte to finding your local takeaway’s opening hours, you can find just about anything with a quick search. Except now, you don’t even have to type your query in – just ask the question out loud and let Google do its thing.
Voice search might be taking over, but younger generations of today are born with this type of technology at their fingertips. They’re more educated and adept at the power of search, and this will only heighten the need for it for years to come.
So, whether it’s a voice search or a written search, people will still be using Google, just in a different way.
Marketing platforms are expanding
‘Optimisation’ is the key aspect of SEO, and that doesn’t necessarily have to take place on a traditional search engine. In fact, the number of marketing platforms with search ability continues to expand.
AI can’t do what humans can
Despite concerns that AI is on the verge of taking over, humans will always need to be a part of the SEO process. And it all boils down to, you guessed it, content.
AI is a major part of search engine algorithms, but that’s actually more of a help than a hindrance to us SEOs. We can use it to take our SEO strategies to the next level.
Using AI tools such as Semrush helps us understand a lot of information about users and what they’re looking for. We can identify keyword opportunities and content gaps, and even get recommendations on optimising that content. It takes a lot of the legwork out of SEO and avoids time spent shooting in the dark.
Of course, that begs the question if AI already has all of this information, can’t robots just fill in the gaps?
To put it simply, no. Robots can’t write in a way that connects with humans, like humans can. Humans need to curate that content, making it readable, relatable and exactly what the user is looking for. Then, we need AI to index and deliver that content to users looking for it. It’s a two-player game.
There are endless reasons why SEO will always be a thing. But, the overarching point is that in 2022 it’s still very much a crucial online marketing tactic, just one that’s maturing.
The future of SEO
SEO isn’t going anywhere, but the techniques and tactics behind it will always be changing. We can’t always predict how algorithms will change or how this will impact our strategies, but does this mean we should give up? No, because our competitors won’t.
Search engines are constantly evolving to keep us on our toes, so we have to be up for the challenge and quick to adapt if we want the results.
So, how do we win at SEO in 2022 and beyond?
Optimise for voice search
1 in every 4 Google searches on a mobile device is done by voice, and this is undoubtedly on the rise.
Voice really is the new search, and this means we have to rethink our SEO strategies and optimise our content to be found by voice search. Unsurprisingly, 40.7% of voice search answers come from the Featured Snippets on Google.
So, we need to optimise our content to give it the best chance of landing in a featured snippet.
- Find the most asked questions in your industry, and provide in-depth answers in the form of articles
- Include question-type search queries as headings within your content, and offer concise answers
- Write in a way that reflects how a person would speak to target voice searches
Google’s RankBrain is built upon the method of detecting natural language, so making sure that your content speaks to the user and utilises conversational keywords is the way you’re going to nail this one.
Prioritise user experience
Google cares about user experience, so you should too.
It’s all well and good having perfectly written content, but if your site is taking 10 seconds to load, isn’t optimised for mobile or generally just difficult to navigate, you’re only hindering your own SEO efforts.
So, don’t ignore your technical SEO. Ensure your website is fully responsive and pay attention to loading speed. Google places more importance on this than ever.
Include visual content
Images and videos are a huge part of SEO in 2022, and if you’re not including them in your strategy you may just be missing out.
Search engines are indexing and ranking visual content, so if you’re optimising your images and videos correctly you may just be able to drive traffic to your website.
Include plenty of images within your content where you can, ensuring they have fully optimised alt attributes and title tags so that they can be picked up by Google.
Now is the time to start taking advantage of video content, if you don’t already. The goal is to get your videos ranking on YouTube and Google Search, as opposed to simply embedding them onto your site. Create content that fits within your marketing strategy, and optimise them fully on YouTube with detailed titles, descriptions and captions.
Videos have a good chance of appearing in Google question boxes and Featured Snippets when done correctly, so keep this in mind when creating your content.
If you’ve learned anything from this article, I hope it’s that SEO will in fact last forever (at least, for as long as search engines do). If you want to stay ahead of the game, then you need to keep up with the constant changes in this fast-paced world.
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