Is SEO Still Relevant in 2019?
Search engine optimisation (SEO) has changed a lot over the years. It’s seen the practice of keyword stuffing, where people crammed articles full of keywords to the point that they weren’t readable to a human. We’ve seen link farms used by this or that seemingly reputable SEO agency. They would create hundreds of sites that link to each other in an effort to boost search engine visibility. Various link-buying SEO services are still touted on the Internet, although they hurt a website more than help it in the long-run.
Every step of the way, Google has improved its algorithm to block underhanded practices. They state that any attempt to manipulate search rankings is against the rules. And they have the technology to enforce those rules. On top of this, Google is never forthcoming about exactly how their algorithm ranks websites. They can change their algorithm and years of search engine optimisation work can go up in smoke. It makes you wonder if it’s really worth the time and money investment when ranking is so “fragile”.
So then, is SEO dead? Is any attempt to alter your position in search ranking forbidden? How effective is SEO if it comes crashing down overnight?
To answer these questions, let’s begin by considering the customers who use Google.
Is SEO Still Relevant to Customers?
To find out, let’s look at the numbers:
- Around 94% of search traffic goes through Google
- Approximately 80% of searchers skip the ads to click on an organic search result
- 72% of people who visit a local business online will visit that business in real life
- 82% of mobile phone users use “near me” searches
- Nearly 2 billion people globally shop online
- 85% of customers conduct research through search before buying
Customers are using search to find businesses. They are looking not only for products and services. They want content that helps them make a buying decision. A smart SEO agency today will tell you that search engine optimisation is primarily about creating and delivering this content.
Without SEO, this content would not be visible to customers. Search engines would be less useful to them. Google would lose market share and money. Google doesn’t want that. So the next question is…
Is SEO Still Relevant to Google?
Google is ultimately a business. They thrive when searchers choose their search engine. People choose it when they find what they’re looking for quickly. Google wants a searcher’s first click to give them exactly what they wanted.
In order to do this, Google must sift through endless websites, looking at:
- Website authority
- Quality of their overall website
- User-friendliness of the website
- Depth and breadth of the content that matches a query
And they must do this all relative to the many other sites to deliver the best search results. Is SEO relevant to Google? Yes. It’s how they delight their own customers (searchers). Google relies on businesses to understand what kind of content and experiences their customers are looking for so that they deliver the best website to the searcher.
A digital marketing company that offers SEO services in 2019 understands that increasing visibility isn’t about manipulating the search engine or building a “straw house” that may blow down when Google updates its algorithm again. It’s about building a virtual partnership between yourself and Google. This partnership is built on mutual trust. You have a track record of providing useful content to customers. And Google has a long track record of trying to deliver content to searchers that they find most useful.
If your SEO agency is applying SEO strategies that do that, then you have an unshakable foundation on which to grow your online presence. But is it worth it? SEO takes time and money. It requires constant competitive analysis and adaptation.
Is SEO Still Relevant to Businesses?
Once again, let’s look at the numbers:
- Google processes 40 thousand search queries every second.
- Having a high search ranking delivers about 6X the ROI of search ads.
- Over 60% of search traffic goes to the sites in the top three positions.
- Over 50% of all website traffic now comes in through searches.
If you’re not getting over 50% of your traffic through search results, then those visits are going to your competition. How effective is SEO for them? Very. SEO is highly relevant to your business and the return on investment is well worth it when your SEO agency uses current, Google-aligned SEO strategies
What Does Search Engine Optimisation Look Like in 2019?
It’s important to realise that producing high-quality content alone won’t help you scale search results. Without a site that has undergone (and continues to undergo) complete search engine optimisation and complementing content distribution strategy, content has no chance of being found. Part of the job of an SEO agency is to ensure that content is found and that those interactions are analysed to continually improve content.
2019 SEO involves:
- Building a website that’s fast, user-friendly, mobile-optimised and easy to navigate
- Designing webpages that encourage people to interact with the site… clicking to expand, visiting other pages, providing contact information, and spending more time on the site
- Understanding your target audience and what kind of content they’re looking for in what formats (blog posts, videos, games, tools, etc.). You’re creating content that is helpful above all.
- Building content around the buyer’s journey (Discovery>Consideration>Decision-Making)
- Using long tail keywords that appear naturally in content. Those asking is SEO dead may believe that keywords no longer matter. But they do. These long tail keywords generally represent queries and questions people ask. The average query is 4 words long. Keyword stuffing creates content that will not rank well because it’s not enjoyable to humans. But the right use of keywords helps Google understand what your page is about so that you appear in the right searches.
- Using semantically complementing keywords. Rather than using the same word repetitively, you would build out content using several long and short tail keywords that demonstrate to an algorithm that can’t actually “read” the content that your content has substance and adequately covers a topic.
- Placing keywords strategically. Strategically doesn’t mean unnaturally. An SEO agency would make sure that the most important keywords are placed in headings, image alt tags and throughout the content.
- Investing in Software as a Service (SaaS) tools. These tools perform a variety of functions that would be time-prohibitive if done manually. But they are essential to achieving search engine optimisation. For example, SaaS tools can automate tedious tasks, learn what strategies your competition is using, or select the perfect keywords for your content.
- Delving into analytics to gain insight. Find out what’s working, and optimise. Is SEO dead? It would be is SEO services don’t involve analysation without which optimisation cannot occur.
- Having clear distribution strategies, generally including email marketing, social media, and search ads.
- Building partnerships with other industry businesses, news sites, educational sites and more to earn links and mentions that help build a website’s authority.
How Effective Is SEO in 2019?
In 2019, SEO is just as effective and important as it has ever been. Many of the strategies have changed over time as Google has improved its ability to spot those trying to manipulate search results. But when an SEO agency aligns its SEO strategy with what customers want from search engines, everyone wins.