In 2010, Google introduced its newest search feature: Google Instant. Rather than waiting for users to finish inputting a query, the search engine instead began throwing out suggestions while they typed, based in part on their browsing history. The decreased standardization of Web searches had some experts predicting the imminent demise of SEO.
Three years later, having survived both Panda, Penguin and social media, experts are still forecasting its doom. And that only covers the last few years; the gradual progression of SEO since Archie debuted in 1990 has seen many such panics, each as unfounded as the last.
Who Says SEO is Dead?
Although SEO is still a vital factor in Internet marketing, it no longer commands such prominence as in the past. Many still use it as a blanket term to cover more than on-site optimization and link-building, but succeeding online now requires a strong social media presence as well. The old methods no longer work, and in that sense SEO is caught up in a constant cycle of innovation and limitation.
Others making this argument are less nuanced. Some use it for a sensationalist headline, while others claim to have discovered the technique that will fill the gap left by SEO. As with all things in the marketing community, take everything you read with a grain of salt.
Why SEO is Still Going Strong
As long as there are search engines, search engine optimization will be necessary to help worthy websites reach interested viewers. Given the incredible proliferation of websites and pages online, it is reasonable to assume that systems will always need a way to find information that users cannot. The methods, on the other hand, are sure to change, as well as the organizations setting the rules that govern them.
No matter what name it goes by, search engine optimization is simply a means of bringing publishers and companies to readers for mutual benefit. This practice predates the Internet and will outlast it, but until the last search engine shuts down, SEO will remain a vital piece of any website’s business strategy.
The question, then, is what currently works in SEO? When a so-called expert cannot find an answer that he likes, he declares optimization dead. Those who wish to continue profiting from the remarkable opportunities of the Internet, however, must stop and take stock of what has been left behind.
Link building has not been eliminated. In fact, the need for high-quality inbound links has never been greater. Rather than paying for or spamming links, webmasters must now court recommendations from reputable websites and social media users. It demands effort, helpfulness and cooperation. The quick tricks are being picked off one by one, and real finesse is now needed to bring a page to the top of the rankings.
In the old days of SEO, the impact of PR on page rankings was rather straightforward: It was all about building links. A good PR strategy centered around the goal of enticing just about anyone on the web to link to the company's site and/or press release.
Today's campaigns are in large part much more complex, thanks to Google's ever-evolving algorithms.
The current reality is that Google cares about the quality of content and credibility over a sheer volume of links and keywords. PR strategies must now cleverly incorporate the social stratosphere as well, leaving the two departments of SEO and Public Relations in a prime place to work together.
Successful SEO revolves around stellar content, and successful PR equates to an enviable network. Since SEO needs that network to thrive and PR needs great content to have something to crow about, the marriage of these two disciplines is now a no-brainer.
Networking and Citations: The Keys to Success
Many companies focus PR around two main areas: press releases and social signals. Both are critical to generating word of mouth, links, and overall buzz, but at the heart of success lies the quality of your network.
The first priority of any PR professional should always be networking.