So is SEO dead? Not really! If you run a business and you want to stay relevant, then finding a way to promote yourself online is an absolute must. The web is how the majority of us now find information on any number of topics, and it’s also one of the cheapest and most ubiquitous tools available to companies looking to increase their visibility.
For a while marketing a business online has meant using SEO, which means optimizing your website to rank highly on Google, and this has proven a reliable way for a while now of getting lots of traffic to your site and of targeting specifically the people who want to be there.
But then Google made some changes to their algorithms and that resulted in a lot of websites being demoted or completely de-indexed for the very techniques that had previously been encouraged and considered the best strategy. This resulted in a lot of businesses going under and led to a lot of people hailing this as the “death of SEO”.
SEO was now too “unstable” to be a good marketing strategy, and the conspiracy theorists believed this was a purposeful move on Google’s part to drive more businesses to their AdWords service. Did Google make these changes so that the only guaranteed way of getting to the top of Google would be to pay them lots of money? And if they did, has it worked? Is SEO still a good option for a business looking to gain exposure online? Or is PPC (Pay Per Click) the best option now? What other options are there?
The State of SEO
Is SEO dead? The first thing to recognize is that SEO probably is not “dead”. The businesses that suffered largely did because they used “spam-like” techniques to get to the top of Google, and because they were relying 100% on Google for all their traffic. Both of these are mistaken approaches and the best way to use SEO is as a supplement to other marketing strategies. Most important of all though is to use SEO in a way that benefits your visitors first and foremost and that takes future-proofing seriously. Finding a good SEO company, and concentrating on delivering value for your visitors will win you favours in the eyes of Google and optimization means finding lots of ways to demonstrate to the search giants that you are interested in doing just that.
PPC campaigns on the other hand are more guaranteed than SEO as you are paying to get to the top of the search engines or onto other websites. At the same time though there is also a trade-off here and PPC is also more expensive and more temporary than SEO – once you stop paying you lose that position. Again PPC is best used as one part of a broader online strategy – and it can be particularly useful when used to research the value of particular keywords, or to bring back traffic that has already visited your site using remarketing (this is worth looking into particularly if you sell products from your site: https://ads.google.com/home/).
Social media is another big option for businesses wanting to get more awareness online, and every company should have a Twitter and Facebook account. Many studies suggest that people are more likely to buy a product if they “like” or “follow” the brand manufacturing it, and the interconnected nature of these online networks makes them great at facilitating viral ad campaigns. Social media can only do so much though, as potential customers will need to somehow be connected to your brand to hear your message and you won’t be able to target your messages that easily.
YouTube is a fantastic marketing tool and one that often goes forgotten by businesses looking at their online options. You can say much more with a short video than you can with a long article or a series of images, and if you can provide something amusing or interesting then you can rack up a large number of viewers quickly. It’s expensive of course, and again limited in some ways, but it’s definitely something to look into.
You can also use a range of other methods to market yourself online though, and many of the approaches you would use in the ‘real world’ will work just as well online. Look into ways that you can generate links through “link baiting” (providing great content that people want to share) and into using stories and events to get coverage on blogs and websites that will bring more people to your sites. Combine these methods with all of the above methods and you will have a powerful and comprehensive online marketing strategy that won’t be susceptible to little changes in algorithms or social media trends.