I often tell people that SEO is dead.
Like Gary Vaynerchuk says, “marketers ruin everything.”
You’re going to learn to be that writer.
Wait, let’s backtrack a bit. I might need to explain SEO to you. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.
Have you ever wondered what makes things appear in Google in the specific order they do?
When you Google search, or Bing, or whatever you use, there’s a method to the madness that is SERPs, or Search Engine Results Pages.
Go search for “David Lynch Quinoa Recipe” (that third word is pronounced “keen-wah”). For a lot of people, the first thing that comes up is an OpenCulture.com article. Cool.
For some people, you might get something else. If you’re logged into your account on whatever search engine you’re using, you probably have results custom tailored to you. If you’re not logged in, or if you’ve never searched the keyphrase before, then you’ll get the same results as anyone else in your shoes.
(Note: I added “&pw=0” to the link above, so if you clicked that, you will receive the results that show for logged-out users even if you’re logged in.)
These results are decided based on an algorithm that is a secret except for a few people who are working on it at the company.
For the sake of simplicity, let’s just stick with Google for the sample company and search engine. They all work the same, though have different algorithms to decide the ranking of websites.
There was a time where we used to spam content networks with articles full of backlinks to artificially raise the ranking of websites so we could make more money. We gamed the system. I wouldn’t say it was wrong, but maybe I’m just biased because it kept food on my table for a few years. I definitely wouldn’t say it was right, either.
Now that you know how search engines work, we can discuss why SEO is dead.
The search engine algorithm is getting smarter and previously mentioned systems that used to game the algorithm are no longer working. On top of that, the search engines are learning to build SERPs that benefit the user more and more. There’s far less “SEO trash” showing up on page one than there was 5-10 years ago.
Of course, SEO’s (Search Engine Optimizers) are trying out new things to game the system more and more, and there will always be new things, but it’s definitely not like it was back in 2009, where all you had to do was slam content aggregators with backlinks.
Backlinks are links in an article that link back to your main content (or, as marketers call it, “the money site”) with the sole purpose of increasing ranking. Backlinks still help your ranking, however getting good backlinks is very difficult these days.
People are using search engines less and remembering content more, for some inexplicable reason.
I don’t know how that works considering our brains are awful at storing information (great for processing it, though).
But here’s what’s going on: people are starting to remember sources more. A lot of people will go to a specific source to find information about a subject now.
For example, I am a big fan of the brand seanwes and the information they provide. I frequently search for things on their site rather than a broad Google search. To speed things up, I’ll still use Google, but search it with a “+seanwes” which makes sure it only searches for things on the internet that include the word seanwes in them.
Search engines are more tailored to the individual (at least, when the individual is logged on).
When you’re logged in to your Google account, it’s tracking the things you search and the pages you go to, and may or may not track what’s saved to your bookmarks (when using Chrome).
Then, when you search for things, your history plays into what results are provided to you. This has been, and will continue to get more and more custom tailored as times goes on.
And of course there’s social shares.
People are sharing things through social media, and a lot of people will use the search engines built into the social media to find the information they’re looking for.
An example of that is how a large portion of people no longer conduct Google searches for news. Instead, they go straight to Twitter to find out what’s going on. Twitter moves way faster than CNN or Fox and most internet savvy people know that.
SEO’s really not quite dead yet, but it’s getting there.
In part two, we’re going to discuss how to actually write with SEO in mind, despite the fact that SEO is dying, because it’s still going to benefit you. Continue reading here.
Join the newsletter
Subscribe to learn about making money writing. You'll learn everything from how to write better, to the business and marketing of a writing business.