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They Said “SEO is Dead.” Were they Right?

A few years ago, the “SEO is Dead” posts started being published. Now, here we are, years after some of these claims have been made about SEO going the way of the Titanic. Were they right? Is SEO, as we know it, dead, and is something else about to take over the world of internet marketing? I’ve been thinking about this question a lot lately as I’ve seen websites which once ruled page one drop to page two, three….or even off the SERPs altogether.

Having seen other sites rise to the top of the search results because of recent algorithm changes, here’s my take on the controversial topic of the death of SEO.

SEO is Evolving, But Why?

SEO isn’t dying. It’s evolving. As long as there are search engines deciding which pages will show up on the first page of their search results, there will be SEO…at least in SOME form or another. What’s now deader than a doornail is the “build a bunch of backlinks” approach to SEO. I’ve also found that publishing a lot of content isn’t the best way to climb the search rankings. There are sites which have pages and pages of content but which aren’t showing up anywhere NEAR the first page of the search results.

Clearly, something else is causing SEO to evolve, and I’d like to challenge your thinking with a theory which has proven itself again and again over the past ten years. The theory is that PEOPLE decide what sites will show up on page one. The search engines don’t decide. They simply gauge human interaction (click thru rates etc) and they rank sites according to what people are responding to. Every Google update has been about making the search engine results more appealing for people.

Every website that creates a good user experience is rewarded with high rankings. Every website that tries to apply formulas and fool the system has ended up paying for it in the long run. Has it always been this way? Yes, but it hasn’t always been obvious. In the early days of the internet, the search engine companies didn’t have the technology to measure people’s behaviors. They had to rely on backlinks to determine how popular a site was. There were no Facebook likes, not Twitter shares and no Google +1 votes.

Now, they have these things, and many webmasters and SEO experts are perplexed as to why the rules are changing. They’re saying that SEO is dead, but it’s not. Technology is evolving and the search engines are becoming more and more adept at ranking sites according to human behaviors. It’s puzzling that people still don’t seem to get this. Many of them are still trying to figure out the SEO algorithms and apply the formulas. They’re in for a rude awakening when the next Google update comes. So what can you do if you want to secure high rankings in the near future?

SERP Rank or Social Rank?

If you want to rank high in the search engines and if you want to make sure you’re not dumped by the next Google update or by the rise of the next big search engine, you need to focus on social rank, not SERP rank. If people like your content and keep coming back to your site, a time will come when you don’t even need to the search engine companies. You’ll create a following, the way a business is supposed to do.

What would happen if you made social rank your priority starting today? Just try it, the worst that can happen is the search engine companies will penalize you for giving people what they really want. But I doubt that will ever happen.

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