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The rise of social media, the proliferation of search spam and a myriad of other factors have resurrected the age old question about SEO.. Is It Dead? This issue became especially controversial when Forbes writer, Ken Krogue, posted the following Why SEO is Not Deadarticle on the site: The Death Of SEO: The Rise of Social, PR, And Real Content. In it, the author discussed the rise of PR, social and real content as the reason for the decline of SEO. Social networks are after all, increasingly driving more and more traffic to websites than ever before. With it, traditional SEO links are slowly being replaced by social signals to indicate relevant content on the net.
As expected, the article attracted a lot of attention from the netizens with SEO marketers being the most vocal. It’s an ongoing debate and the Forbes article is just one of the many predictions about SEO that stretches way back to 1997. However, the rise of social media does indeed puts a new twist into the discussions and I’ll try to contribute my own two cents through this article.
So why is SEO NOT Dead?
1. Search is More Relevant than ever. Particularly Local SEO: One thing that most people oversee in this issue is the fact that SEO and Search Engine Algorithms are in a state of constant evolution. As the needs of the people and the available technologies change, so does the algorithm of these search engines to remain relevant to its users.
Take the example of Google. As the need for more local information grew more pressing over the past years, so did Google’s search algorithm to include local search results, Google maps and Local reviews in its search engine results. As sharing of content over social media increased, so did Google incorporate social signals into its search results. SEO will not die as long as search engines, and most notably Google, are still providing users with relevant results.
2. Search is STILL King when it comes to Capturing Sales:
Social media marketers may say what they like but Search still trumps Social when it comes to capturing leads and converting them, which is not surprising since most people still refer to search engines to research products or services or at the time of purchase.
In fact, an ATG study on how users discover new products shows that search engines still dominates social media by a large 45% margin (53% vs 8%). When it comes to converting sales leads, Search also dominates Social by almost 300%. Both data are not surprising, after all, the user intent on search is more geared towards lead capture than social.
3. Social Media Search Sucks:
The internet is a money driven organism and when it comes to looking for more information about or possible sellers for products and services, social media search is still way behind the quality of search engines. Despite the potential of social in referring traffic to company websites, it’s still SEO that refers the most relevant leads. This can be seen in the study made by one marketer regarding the conversion rates of search and social in which search posted a 4.5% conversion rate vs social’s 1.3%.
4. Search is Merging with Social Media
While search and social media are vastly different in so many ways, a synergy of both their strengths gives us a glimpse into the future of SEO wherein Search Engine Optimization merges with Social Media Marketing. In fact, Google has already started rolling the ball with its integration of Google Plus results and Twitter data into its search algorithm. Facebook is taking baby steps towards the same thing with its own search engine Bing and its Open Graph.
5. SEO is not limited to Google, Yahoo and Bing
If we dig down to the roots of what Search Engine Optimization means, we will find out that as long as information is being compiled, analyzed and ranked through search engines, we will always have a demand for people who are skilled at optimizing data to rank high in search results. Under this definition, optimization for ecommerce search engines such as eBay, Amazon, Google Play, etc also falls under SEO and these are also growing at a phenomenal rate. The ranking algorithm and variables each one uses may be different but the principles behind them remain more or less the same.
So is the death of SEO imminent? Perhaps it’s not the gasps of a dying industry that the doomsayers are hearing but growth pains of an evolving one.