Is SEO Still Important?

SEO - Search Engine Optimization

If you have a website or blog that is an integral part of your business and relies heavily on web traffic, then the relevance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in today’s online marketing climate  is something that might interest you.

Just a tad.

Well maybe more than a “tad” since more web traffic can potentially equal more leads.

And more leads can equal more sales.

And more sales equals more awesomeness for your business.

For a long time SEO (Search Engine Optimization) has been the golden ticket to rise to the top of the ranks in Google.

Of course, everyone wants to be on top – the question is what will you do to get there?  Some chose to implement black hat SEO tactics to accomplish their goals such as keyword stuffing, sneaky redirects, hidden texts and links, etc.  For a while it seemed like the cheaters were winning and  haters were hating until Google updated its algorithms and started penalizing those black hat tactics. But for years the reward for understanding  how to use keywords effectively and honestly was still payment for a trip to the top of Google.

Like a lady who hates to be seen in the same outfit twice, Google changed its algorithms many times over the years. The most significant changes happened only a few years ago. But this time Google  traded in bedazzled bell bottoms for a chic pair of black skinny jeans and created algorithms that reward good content by updating to Penguin 2.1 and Hummingbird and it only continues to refine its search methods.

For almost two decades there have been rumors that SEO died. But like the legendary Tupac Shakur, there is still debate as to whether that is really true.

Maybe the better thing to do is to redefine what SEO looks like in 2016 rather than load SEO onto a funeral pyre and light it afire as the waves crash solemnly against its keyword kindling.

Some marketers feel that SEO is really part of a bigger discipline of  digital marketing, which includes:

  • Email marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Referrals
  • Content marketing
  • Connection with the reader
  • Creating trust through consistent communication
  • Providing relevant and helpful content

Google is simply now rewarding SEO tactics that work hand in hand with a company’s overall online strategy.

So the next question is how does this work? How can you create an SEO strategy that compliments Google’s skinny jeans?

The first step is to better understand onsite search engine optimization factors that have more of an impact than just the existence of keywords on your page.

Google cares about meaning

Google still needs words in order to scan your site but now it has become more sophisticated in its interpretation. Before, Google would look for specific words. Now it scans for phrases and relevant words to develop conclusions for what your business or service is. For example, if you are a hair salon, Google will look at the word “hair styling”, “hair cuts” , and “hair salon” on your site and Google will understand what category your business falls into. If you deliver “high end” cuts or are located in a specific city,  your business could show up in searches that fit high end hair salons in your area.

According to Google, 70% of  searches are derived not just from the specific keywords but the synonyms of the words across over 100 languages.

What does this mean when it comes to creating content for your site? It means that it’s more important to focus on content that accurately describes your business or service because Google is going to look at the context rather than just one specific keyword for you to show up in searches.

Quality of Your Site

Make sure that your site is mobile friendly – In April of 2015 Google announced that they were “boosting the ranking” of mobile friendly sites. If your site was not mobile friendly then your site would basically not show up in mobile searches. Need to know if your site is mobile friendly? Google has resources for you to find out!

Structure your site well – Did you know the architecture of your site can affect your SEO? A good site structure allows the user to have a great experience while they are on your site. Linking within your site will help visitors get to important information easily. A well organized site structure will keep your visitors – well visiting for a longer period of time. Good site structure will also decrease bounce rates and increase engagement. These are all good indicators that you have a site worth ranking.

Speed Matters – They say slow and steady wins the race but that’s so not true when it comes to site loading time. The faster your site loads the better in the eyes of Google; so stick a carrot in front of that hare and let it rip.

Or rather…

  • Reduce the number of HTTP requests by streamlining the number of components on your page.
  • Reduce the bandwidth of your pages through compression to reduce the HTTP response.
  • Make sure that your site’s code is clean and streamlined. Remove any unnecessary code and make sure there are no extra spaces, line breaks, etc. Essentially make sure that your code is super lean like Chris Hemsworth.

Use Keywords Effectively

Keywords still have some sway when it comes to SEO but you need to be aware of the most beneficial way to use them. Long tail keywords are more relevant for showing up in searches that garner you the eyes of your target market and hopefully more valuable leads.

Use keywords in your headers, titles and descriptions. Be careful of stuffing the body of your article or your page with keywords. This type of behavior could get you in trouble with Google.

When it comes to the question of SEO really being dead, the answer could be that it’s simply changing. It doesn’t look the same any more, which is causing people not to recognize it for what it is. Imagine if Tupac emerged from his secret-off-the-grid studio today. He would probably look and sound different than he did back in the day.

Perhaps Google should consider adding a butterfly to its zoo of new algorithms in honor of what SEO  looks like today.

SEO is a caterpillar that has changed into a butterfly. It’s still alive but functions on a new level.

Want to talk? Schedule a free search engine optimization strategy call. We would love to chat!

 

 

 

 

 

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Scott Blanton

Content Writer at Iconic Digital Marketing
As Iconic Digital's content writer, Scott works with clients to develop brand stories and key messaging. When he isn't typing away at his computer, you'll find him exploring new coffee shops, spending time with this family, or working on a new home improvement project.