Is SEO Dead? One of the most common questions in the world of search engine marketing that tends to pop up every other year.
I get emails and FB queries all the time with questions like ‘what is the future of SEO’, should we invest time in learning SEO anymore and similar ones.
So I thought I should write about it.
The article is mostly going to be my personal thoughts, however, being in the digital marketing industry for more than 7 years, I am confident about these thoughts.
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I divided this article into two sections, the first part being my thoughts around why I think SEO is far from dead and second being, strategies that I KNOW no longer works in the 2019 world of SEO.
Let’s begin with the first part.
Is SEO Dead? Here’s Why SEO Is Far From Being Dead
Alright, I will keep it plain and simple. I personally don’t think SEO is dead because all my businesses grew every year since 2012 on the back of SEO alone. Even in my latest case studies, I showed you how I am building and investing in more websites where the only (or the dominant) marketing channel is or will be SEO.
I don’t plan to change my strategies anytime soon.
Spending is Growing
According to this Forbes article, the USA market, being the biggest one will spend roughly about 72 Billion USD in SEO services alone and it is going to reach $80 Billion USD in the year 2020.
The growth has been consistent over the last 10 years and though it has slowed down a little as it would in any other industry when it matures.
With more and more people looking at websites to find information and internet access being more available in countries, this number is only going to rise.
Also, note that this is the stats of US alone and that’s not the world. As non-English queries arise, the spending on SEO is only going to grow.
Big Companies Now Care About Search Engine Marketing
Two things happen when big companies come into an industry. The prices for that service increase and it gets more competitive to sustain in that industry.
We have seen both happening in the world of SEO.
One independently owned popular websites were Wire Cutter, which the New York Times bought with another site at $40 million USD.
That’s when everyone started to realize that big companies are now interested in the SEO and ranking game.
This has been good as SEO companies are now able to charge more for their work, thanks to the industry growth.
It also means that small SEOs now find it more difficult to rank for national and international terms which were not the case in 2012.
You can’t just have average SEO skills anymore to get away with your site. Things have changed.
A site that makes about $564/month can easily get sold for $18,829 in 2019 which would not be more than $6,000 in even the year 2016.
Small Companies Have Started to Chip In
It is not only the big companies that are spending on SEO. Small companies have now started to chip in too (of course, not at the same level). I work with small companies from all over the world with our SEO Service and we regularly see clients like photographers, plumbers, architects, and lawyers doing well with the help of SEO in their local area.
The best part about investing in SEO as a small company is that you don’t have to spend a lot. As a local business, you would only want to rank in a particular area and not in the whole country (or worldwide). That brings your cost down which allows you to grow the business.
I remember I did my MSc dissertation on ‘What Small Businesses Think About Local SEO’ and the findings were not great.
I found in my research in 2017 that most small businesses preferred Facebook page over SEO, primarily because of not knowing what SEO is and how it can benefit them.
It has changed quite a bit in the last 2 years as more business owners now know about SEO. Facebook is still dominating, thanks to the ease of using and managing a Facebook page, however, ease of use doesn’t always co-relate to the generated revenue.
All studies have suggested that small companies that invest in SEO see 50-100% more growth than a company that prefers social media marketing as their main channel.
What’s the reason?
I won’t go into the details but it happens because of a concept called ‘inbound marketing’. When someone types something on Google, they are actively looking for a service. On the other hand, social media marketing is more about showing a ‘possibly interested person’ something which they might or might not be interested in.
SEO Job Market is Growing
I remember the year 2011. Other than a few marketplaces like Odesk (now Upwork), and Freelancer, nobody was hiring an SEO guy. SEO was not a traditional profession.
Where it is still not a mainstream role, things have improved quite a lot in recent years.
A search engine journal career study tells us that SEO is one of the fastest-growing professions in the US.
A quick SEO job opening study by US region shows us this:
We still don’t have the data for 2019 but it is going to be even better than in 2018.
If I wanted, I could scrape data of the 2011-2013 window on a popular job portal like Indeed and compare it to the 2017-2018 window but I know there will be a massive increase.
SEO managers are now making anywhere from $60,000-$150,000 on average which was unthinkable back in the days.
Why do you think people think SEO is dead if it is not?
It is because saying ‘SEO is dead’ is a self-supplied excuse that helps you not to work and procrastinate. That’s what I personally think.
Anyway, though SEO is not dead, there are SEO strategies that are buried under 30 feet in 2019. Let’s talk about some of those, shall we?
Some SEO Strategies that No Longer Work in 2019
There are more than a good few SEO strategies that no longer work in 2019. I have personally tested most of them but I would love to know your thoughts in the comments too.
It breaks my heart to see people trying to build Web 2.0s to send backlinks to their primary websites. This used to work just fine back in the days but have started not to work AT ALL since 2018 (or maybe late 2017).
Web 2.0s were all about creating free websites on platforms like Blogger, WordPress, setting up a quick site and sending a link back to your main site.
There was a time when if you Googled something, chances were high that you would find a Web 2.0 site on the first page of Google.
Since then, they have started to disappear as Google now doesn’t care about sub-domains and parasites.
Building a web 2.0 site is the biggest waste of time in 2019 according to me.
I remember the days when you could just hire a cheap VA to do 100s of blog comments/day to get backlinks.
You can still do that on most blogs, however, the links don’t bring any value. They are no-followed, they look spammy and they are considered as spam by all search engines.
In fact, doing blog commenting is the fastest way to increase your Moz spam score.
You should still do blog comments, but the purpose should not be a link. The purpose should be to engage in a genuine discussion with the writer of that post. That will result in a better relationship and will end up in a backlink if done right.
Scholarship Link Building
I have talked about this in the past. The idea was to create a small scholarship page on your website and then reaching out to universities to list that page on their scholarship portal.
This almost always resulted in quality .edu links which resulted in a decent SERP rise.
I have seen .edu links working well even today but the effect has been very low. It is now considered as a spam method to get links.
If you are using this (it still works), use it with a pinch of salt. I don’t, anymore.
Keyword Stuffing Content
Don’t worry about making your ‘Yoast plugin Green’. Keyword stuffing doesn’t work. Try to write naturally when you are writing an article. Writing your keyword a thousand times in an article will not help you rank for that term.
The purpose of a press release is to let the world know about the recent news about your business. It might be a change in your phone number, an address change, a recent service that you launched or etc.
PR releases result in 100s of no-follow links which might help a little in keeping your link profile clean and diversified. However, they don’t help you with rankings.
Trying to target the same keyword in more than one page of your website might do more harm than good. Google has recently come up with an update that is now preventing duplicate URLs for any keywords on a SERP page (has nothing to do with the backend keyword cannibalization).
Make sure that you have a spreadsheet with two columns (URLs and target keyword) to track every keyword you are targeting. There will still be ‘natural cannibalization’ which we can’t avoid. Let’s not worry about those for now.
There’s, of course, more but notice how I didn’t include PBN or a few other Black Hat strategies? That’s because they still work and they work better than the white hat at times.
I have a question for you. What is one SEO strategy that you think doesn’t work anymore in 2019?