Is SEO Still Relevant For B2B in 2021

Author - armstrong-admin

Is SEO dead? The answer to this is not as straightforward as it seems.

Search engine optimisation is closely tied to the history of Google and can trace its origins back to 1997 When Tony Blair came to power with New Labour and Oasis and Britpop were at their peak.

Google as a search engine officially went live in 1998 and as this and other search engines evolved over time so to did SEO to keep up with those changes.

Fast forward to 2021 and we now have a search engines that have gathered enough data in those 25 years to develop artificial intelligence, recognise voice searches and localise search results down to particular localities and even user intent.

They have evolved to become a lot more sophisticated and their evolution has gathered pace in the past 5 years as Facebook, Google, Bing and other social media channels battle it out for our online attention.

So has SEO, which has always been about keeping up with the evolution of search engines, reached a crucial juncture?

One indication of this would be to look at interest over time using Google’s own trends data.

The above chart shows the monthly volume of searches over time and from this we can clearly see that interest in SEO increased dramatically in 2020 before falling back by July 2021.

So if we measure the death of SEO by the level of interest we could conclude that this has declined markedly.

Yet look again at the long term trend and it is clear that interest has only fallen back to something close to the long term average where it has been since 2007.

Of course, the pandemic will have had an impact and distorted these results. More people in lockdown equals more people using the Internet and if SEO is a major topic of interest online then it will naturally follow that searches increase.

It may also be the case that more business owners were paying much more attention to their online offering when it became clear that new ways had to be found to do business when there was a lack of face-to-face contact.  

So if interest in SEO hasn’t dropped then what about its effectiveness in driving traffic to websites and improving the bottom line?

Just as Interest in SEO remains constant so too does its evolution. Have we as humans stopped getting smarter in 2021? Did search engines stop adding new features to search?

Of course the answer is no to both these questions as it should be when someone asks the question is SEO dead?

A better way to look at SEO and its evolution is to understand that there will always be tactics that stop working as new methods come in to replace them. In the past there were often short cuts to success and even today some of these so-called ‘black hat’ SEO tactics can work for some website owners willing to take the risk of penalties.  

This doesn’t mean that SEO is dead or it has become an outdated means of improving the performance of a website. It just means that the old ways of SEO have been consigned to the rubbish bin to be replaced by new more sophisticated methods.

So as search engines evolve to become more sophisticated in providing the right results for people when they search, the work needed to optimise a site to conform to those standards has to continue.

SEO changes but not the fundamentals behind it

People often say, Google is always changing the way it ranks websites and we need to keep on top of those changes. But SEO is not simply a race between us an search engines to solve puzzles. It is simply the case that as the way we search becomes more sophisticated so to do the tasks required to keep up. Matching your site to user intent should be something that is ongoing because time doesn’t stand still.  

SEO has never been a quick fix and just as a web design is continually evolving to provide better user experience, doing SEO correctly is also about keeping up with the latest trends and how your websites perform against the competition.

SEO today is very much alive and just as important as ever to businesses that need organic traffic from the search results to generate leads or sales. In fact SEO has grown to incorporate not just the standard search results page but also optimising for localised search results, dynamic search results, Google My Business, Q and As, People Also Ask and so on.

The playing field has also been levelled up somewhat with carefully crafted content rewarded with a featured snippet at the top of search results.

So when people say SEO is dead or it doesn’t work, it is likely that effort wasn’t put in to planting seeds for the longer term. Often the secret to SEO success is a well put together website filled with optimised content people want to read and share. Content that offers the best answers to queries presented in a way that is accessible and easy to find.

Far from getting in the way of or being a distraction from social media marketing and PPC advertising, SEO should be seen as a crucial means of generating traffic and often the best means of generating sales from digital marketing.