You would think that after a decade of writing about SEO, one might run out of things to say. But the truth of the matter is that despite all of the clickbait calling for and/or proclaiming “the death of SEO” (which has been happening as far back as we can remember), the practice has only increased in importance. In fact contrary to the naysayers, it doesn’t look like it will be going anywhere any time in the foreseeable future. The fact of the matter is that as long as search engines exist, optimising what appears on them to better meet their requirements will always be a thing. It’s pretty simple logic really, but as many readers would know, Search Engine Optimisation is a corner of marketing that is rife with hyperbole and over-dramatic statements. Nearly two decades in, people still lay claim to some sort of insider knowledge or understanding that perpetuates a narrative in stark contrast to the facts. So to drive the point home, we thought that we would run through a short list of three doomsday predictions that didn’t come true. Starting with…
REPEATED CONTENT ASSESSMENT UPGRADES.
A very common thing in the early days of the industry (although it could be be argued that we’re still there, so lets say 2010-2014ish) was to announce with every update to the “Panda” part of Google’s algorithms that SEO was on its deathbed. The reason for this was simple. Black hat methodology was still very prevalent. This is relevant because it quite simply does not matter how “smart” the algorithm gets if you are not trying to cheat it. Anyone who is playing above board should have no reason to freak out when the search engine gets better at assessing quality content.
Of course there has been the occasional example over the years where search engines have changed what constitutes “quality” in counter-intuitive and contradictory ways, but overall these changes should only increase positive results for websites with genuine, helpful, relevant content.
REPEATED LINK PROFILE ASSESSMENT UPDATES
PENGUIN 2.0……. Many readers had PTSD flashbacks just reading that. This was an example of where Google really shook things up. In hindsight we’re sure that even they realise that it was a bit much to roll out all at once, despite the fact that they did spend a good year or two preparing everyone for the update. With that said however, it was entirely necessary. In the preceding years, links to your website were given increased importance and were erroneously seen by Google as an elegant solution to the problem of spam content, which arose due to the high importance they were putting on the content side of things (remember “Content is King”?). But again the black hats came out to play and again they were cheating the system rather trying to work with it. It was around this time that Google started to display an open disdain for Search Engine Optimisation Companies and the rules of the game started to change dramatically.
For those who aren’t in the know and haven’t already guessed, Penguin 2.0 was an update to the part of their algorithm which assessed the links pointing to your website. As we said it was highly necessary because given the initially simple assessment technology they were using in this area, everyone was abusing the hell out of it with fake links, link farms and other nefarious schemes designed to trick the search engine into displaying desired websites on the front page. They had to nip this in the bud quick, so they put their best people on it and then rolled out one of the largest updates the search engine had ever seen. And boy did it make waves!
A lot of those who were there like to refer to it as the occasion during which Google really messed up as sites like The Salvation Army’s took major hits in rankings and in some cases got themselves blacklisted completely, but let’s be clear: These sites were utilising underhanded tactics and fake/low quality links and they paid for it accordingly. And while the 6 or more months it could take to recover from a “Penguin Slap” may have been genuinely excessive, SEO was not to blame for this, just black hat practitioners and impatient businesses.
There have been many more link profile assessment updates both before and after this milestone, but this one set the benchmark and destroyed a lot of lesser marketing companies.
SOCIAL MEDIA DIDN’T KILL SEO
One very important thing that everyone seems to forget is that when Facebook really started to gain steam, Google saw it as a HUGE threat. This wasn’t paranoia on their part. It became quickly apparent that there was a tonne of potential in Facebook’s search bar within the first few years. Facebook even tried to make this happen via Graph search. Thankfully for Google, this was a dismal failure, but they were so worried about it that they created the now defunct Google+ in an attempt to enter the social media market and head Zuckerberg off at the pass so to speak. If they had a successful social platform and a search engine then surely their superior search functionality would help them win right? Well, kind of. Facebook was terrible at search and failed miserably at it. Google was terrible at social and failed miserably at it. However while Fb abandoned their ideas around search entirely, Google continued even after the failure of their social platform to “Socialise” their search results, focusing on places, business listings, reviews, maps and all of the other great extensions that we’ve come to know and love.
Now, this isn’t to say that social search couldn’t still one day kill Google. We firmly believe that it could still happen. But it would be much harder now, but it could happen because who wouldn’t prefer to be able to search for a digital marketer in their local area who their own friends recommend and who specializes in their particular needs instead of just “SEO Brisbane”?
But that’s it from us for today. We initially did try to come up with an exhaustive list but we would be here forever. Make no mistake about it, the above three examples cover some of the most seismic events in online marketing history and SEO survived all of it. So the next time you’re wondering “Do SEO Services Work in 2019?”, the answer is yes. And well on into the future.