The most succinct answer to this question can be found at IsSEOdead.org.
But if you want a longer answer, keep reading.
There is typically an uptick in posts, tweets, and comments about SEO being dead that correspond to the rollout of major Google updates. In the following image, you can see that interest, in terms of the number of searches on Google for “is seo dead”, coincide with the months containing well known Google updates.
As people’s rankings fluctuate during major algo updates, it’s understandable that they feel less in control of their website’s SEO and rankings, thereby letting their emotions lead them to exclaim, “SEO IS DEAD!”
I can empathize, because I’ve experienced frustrating ranking changes during the rollout of major updates over the years.
I mean, “Panda” and “Penguin” are bad words in my household.
And I’m sure pandas and penguins are nice animals so I feel bad that they have this horrible reputation placed on them unwillingly.
But just because someone is frustrated with their ranking drops does not mean that SEO is dead.
It’s actually quite an absurd claim because as long as people use search engines,There. Will. Be. SEO. Period.
Over the years I have had the privilege of working with a lot of great SEOs at SEO.com. We have all gone our separate ways now, but I reached out and surveyed many of them and asked them if SEO is dead.
They gave some fun and insightful responses:
“As long as search engines continue to be viable traffic channels, there will continue to be an opportunity to improve and enhance the way your pages appear in organic search.” -Brian Jensen, Founder and CEO of Congruent Digital
“Ten years ago, I wrote a post about this. In that post I defined SEO as the act of helping sites abide by search engine policies and create and serve up clean, compelling, and relevant content. Using that definition, I can say ten years later that SEO is still alive and well. In fact, I still agree with everything I wrote in that article.” -Nelson James, President of Signs.co
“Are search engines dead? No – that’s the quick and easy version for you. Humans are always searching – for that perfect gift, for that hilarious video they want to share, for silly answers to silly questions… for meaning. Oh, no! We’ve got an existential search crisis on our hands. Search will always be here; the only thing that will change is the form it takes. We are always searching.” -Travis Brown, Demand Generation and Digital Marketing Manager at Foursquare
“Is SEO dead? No.
Has it evolved? Absolutely! SEO used to be a department or a subset of a marketing team. Now, it’s more of a mindset that every marketer should have. Everything you do online needs to be optimized because almost everything you do online can have an impact on you’re position in the SERPs. One of the crawlers main purposes is to find contextual signals that help them determine both the reader’s and writer’s intent. If you are not optimizing your content, either on-site or off, you are potentially missing out on attracting new visitors to your site. As long as search engines exist, SEO will always be there.” -Tyson Hymas, Director of SEO Fulfillment at Searchbloom
“How could SEO be dead when search engines are still the easiest and most efficient way to search what you’re looking for? After SEO.com I worked for a company where we had no competitors in our space and we ranked first for our branded keywords without even trying, and I still don’t think SEO is dead. Title tags, meta descriptions and content are the foundation of any good website. SEO might have changed from what it once was, but it’s still an important part of a well rounded digital marketing strategy right up there with social, ppc, content and retargeting.” -Rebecca Babicz, Founder of Fall Line Digital
“I don’t believe SEO will ever truly die. Best practices will always exist, and as the algorithms evolve, so will the strategies and tactics.” -Sara Davis, VP of Growth at Can I Rank?
“No, of course, SEO isn’t dead. It’s silly to even to ask or debate this. So long as the behemoth that is Google is around and the biggest traffic driver on the internet SEO will always be alive. It simply needs to be what it should have always been – sound technical setup, smart but not overbearing on-page optimization, marketing tactics and strategies that build your brand, attract links and build trust, with an overall goal of making your website the most seamless customer experience on the web. If done correctly there is still, and always will be, the potential for good rankings and the traffic and sales that come from them.” -Dustin Heap, VP of Marketing at Signs.com
“SEO in an old school thought of calling or emailing to get links is dead IMO. I work on large 1mm+ page sites because there are technical issues that can be fixed there to gain a much larger segment of traffic. Technical SEO is flourishing these days and is becoming extremely dependent upon good SEO’s who know what they are doing. Technical SEO is alive and going much faster in the last 5 years then the old school thought of building a directory link or updating 1 single Meta Title tag. You have to do things at scale and test against what is in each country of the world on an SEO sense to understand what is going on and then go from there.” -Matt Storms, SEO Consultant at MattStorms.com
“Based on the volume of marketing agencies who are buying links from me every month, I’d have to say at least the link building aspect of SEO is far from dead.” -Adam Torkildson, Founder and President at Tork Media
“No, it is not dead. But it has surely evolved over the years as search engines become more intelligent every day and unroll ongoing updates to their ranking algorithms – all to help improve the user experience and prevent black-hat practices from manipulating search results. SEO is not so simple anymore and now requires a more long-term, in-depth, and high-quality strategy.” -Michelle Chambers, Strategic Account Manager at Foghorn Labs
“While SEO has transformed and certain techniques no longer apply, it is certainly as important as ever.” -Matt Higbee, Front End Developer at Clearlink
“SEO is not dead, but it has definitely changed. There are still things you can do to influence your ranking in the search engines but it’s harder to game the system than it used to be. SEO isn’t not about tricking the search engines, it’s about actually being relevant to the keywords people are searching for and having a strong enough reputation (i.e. links) to back it up. SEO extends way beyond the website. There are opportunities to be found across a multitude of different channels, including video, app stores, local/map listings, social media, and even voice (e.g. Siri/Alexa). People who say SEO is dead just don’t know how to do it, or they are doing it well and don’t want to encourage competition. Oh wait, can I change my answer? ;)” -Dave Bascom, Founder of Zen Contractor
“SEO is not dead but rather it has evolved. SEO is completely different from what it was when I started. Some of the same principles apply. I believe the most basic concepts behind SEO will exist as long as there are computerized algorithms trying to index and rank particular listings, pages, products, or any other type of content.” -Albert Mitchell, SEO Marketing and Analytics Manager at doTERRA
“Dead may not be the right word, but maybe reincarnated. If you’re not keeping up on current trends, you’re going to be acquainted with a past version of SEO. There are subspecialties within SEO, such as local optimization, that are far evolved from the article spinning and directory submissions of the past. I believe that the need for optimization for search indexing will continue to be a vital part of website success. The methods to do so are just different over time.” -Nicole Bullock, Senior SEO Strategist at Inbound Lead Solutions
“This is a really fun question in my current role because for me it is almost completely dead. Our market is tiny and 100% known for us so none of our marketing is intent on driving anonymous traffic in search of a solution. To most companies SEO isn’t dead, but when I ask my team to think of digital experiences that help tell our story, I encourage them to throw out any consideration for SEO in how they design. If it fits, great, but not even close to a source of qualified traffic for us. Contrast that with ecommerce companies where near 20% or more of their company EBITDA might be driven by SEO. Right tool for the right time.” -Andy Chesnut, VP of Marketing at Dsco
“Is SEO dead? Hang on, let me check my affiliate accounts. Phew! Still making money from SEO. I guess it’s not all dead yet. Right now, people are talking a lot about search tech that has the potential to upend SEO for certain types of searches. Knowledge Graph killed some SEO because it killed business models that didn’t provide enough value. Machine learning in search results is likely killing some SEO for similar reasons. And I don’t think optimizing for voice search will be a mainstream necessity for a while. Search marketers should be most concerned with understanding how consumers approach their decision journeys, who they trust for answers, and what media they expect to deliver it–because these are in flux. Search marketers today need to “own the search” — especially when that search isn’t just happening on Google.” -Scott Cowley, Digital Marketing Professor at Western Michigan University; Scott’s Bio
“SEO has never been stronger, and many things indicate that it will only continue to grow. Mobile technology, software, websites, and marketing are still in its infancy. SEO certainly shows a presence here but it also has much room to grow. We, as digital marketers, watch and learn how consumers adapt and learn new ways to engross themselves into the digital world. SEO will continue to help bridge the gaps between the content we race to produce and those looking for it. SEO doesn’t die, it evolves.” -Rich Harding, Online Marketer
“SEO is absolutely NOT dead, and I’ll explain why. More and more components of our lives are going online, including our cars, watches and home appliances through devices like Alexa and Google Home. Voice search is also changing the game, and video is gaining popularity with content creators. With so many different ways to search today, I believe it’s more important than ever to ensure our brands remain accessible, which means SEO is still essential. There will always be people searching for solutions to their problems, searching for entertainment, searching for gift ideas, searching for the best local businesses…and that means SEO will continue to be something brands should invest in to ensure they can be discovered.” -Andrew James, CEO and Founder of AndrewJames.co
“The SEO team is an enigma at many large organizations. A good SEO will work with PR, Video, Content, Web Dev, and yet technically own none of it. So some may feel the need for an SEO no longer exists. I suppose theoretically there could be a company where content writers naturally incorporate the best keywords into their headlines and copy, the PR team smartly links back to the website with helpful links, and web developers always follow Google’s best practices. And yet, even in this hypothetical company there would still be an SEO. Why? Because being an SEO isn’t just about doing SEO, its about being held accountable for a websites most valuable asset; organic traffic. The concept of just doing SEO in a silo has been dead for a while, but what the “SEO is dead” argument fails to account for is how important the organic traffic channel is to every website. What happens when organic traffic is down year-over-year? Who does the CMO hold accountable and task to improve it? As long as we have search engines we will have organic traffic, and as long as there’s organic traffic there will be an individual or team held accountable for the performance of that traffic.” -Christian Greiner, Director of Digital Marketing at SolarWinds
“Not at all – most people promoting that idea are referring to SEO of old. 10 years ago, SEO could be described as a method of tricking search engines to rank well. Because of advances on Google’s side, SEO has evolved. We typically break it down into a few categories – technical SEO/usability, content, and promotion. Content and promotion aren’t unique to an SEO campaign but with SEO in mind, they can be more powerful in generating search traffic. When people ask “is SEO dead?”, I like to share the example of a $100 million revenue company we work with who through some technical mishaps, caused their search traffic to cut in half. After some thorough analysis and on-going SEO work, they recovered that traffic and are growing from increased organic rankings, traffic, and conversions. To them, SEO is very much alive and well.” -Bryan Phelps, CEO of Big Leap and Board Member of Utah’s Digital Marketing Collective
“I see this question posed all the time. My answer is always the same when asked. SEO is NOT dead…at least the way I view SEO. I see SEO having everything to do with optimizing the content on a website in a way that makes it easier for search engines to consume it and understand what it is about. It is also about developing and executing a plan on how to build real relationships in your industry and earn links from relevant places. This means being authentic and doing the work, not seeking out a shortcut to “game” Google’s system.
If your definition of “SEO” is finding the latest “shortcut” to get rankings – then I would agree that “SEO” is dead. If done right, I don’t see real SEO ever being dead. #JustMy2Cents” -Rick Hardman, SEM Manager at MasterControl
“Honestly, anytime I hear someone ask this question, I die a little inside. I might also shed a tear or two. SEO is not dead, nor will it ever be dead. If you really think about it, over the last 30 years or so, the internet has gone through several iterations and overhauls and as a result, SEO as a whole hasn’t died, but certain tactics have. As long as there are human beings asking questions or seeking knowledge/greater understanding, there will always be a need for great information/content, stored by machines, and categorized based on certain datasets/criteria. That information has to be optimized and become relevant for the humans seeking this knowledge. How they access that information will change… we have Siri and voice search now, we have mobile apps. Content must be optimized and relevant in relation to these technologies and that’s called SEO. Period!” -Greg Shuey, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Stryde
“No. SEO, and marketing in general, are constantly changing because search engines are constantly changing. If the question was “Is SEO from 2010 Dead?” then the answer would definitely be “Yes”, but because there will always be a need for Search Engines, the SEO strategies will always need to be evolving. An even better question is “Has SEO Changed?”. And an even betterER question is “How Will SEO Evolve Next?” (this statement is brought to you today by the letter E and the number 5)” -Matt Nickle, Musician and Composer at Matt Nickle Music
“As long as humans have questions an evolution of search engine optimization will live. So it’s not going away. Formats and tactics will shift and adjust, it’s name may change as well, but the more digital our world becomes the more valuable the skill of SEO becomes. -Alex McArthur, Growth Marketing Consultant
“Nah quite to the contrary, SEO is very alive. Google’s crackdown on spammy tactics over the years has necessitated a change for some SEO providers but there are tried-and-true methods of SEO that are of immense value to any site that is trying to increase their organic presence. Those that say SEO is dead probably don’t understand that all marketing evolves, and SEO has done so as well.” -Eric Jackson, EVP of Client Operations at Big Leap
“SEO has changed, but it isn’t dead. The people that have been working in this industry over the last several years have seen a lot of changes that have impacted their clients or their personal business in a lot of ways. The strategies today are a little different but the objective is still the same. The changes that Google has made has forced people in this industry to try new strategies in order to get the same or better results. I think that if your strategy is strictly focused on SEO only then you are cutting out opportunities for your brand or your clients brand to thrive.” -Rob Chaffin, Founder and CEO of Dignitas Labs
“Of course SEO isn’t dead. It’s alive and well. Has it evolved? Absolutely. Will it continue to evolve? You bet. I look forward to the future of SEO.” -Tyler Brown, Digital Marketing Director at Big Leap
“So in short, SEO will never die. But as humans get more used to collaborating with machines and programs, our searching habits are going to naturally get more sophisticated and the results will become more limited. Therefore the SEO required to be one of the “fewer chosen answers” must be more sophisticated.” -David Malmborg, Sr. Director, Agency Operations at Number Six and Board Member and Past President of Utah’s Digital Marketing Collective
“SEO can never be dead, because SEO encompasses so much more than just keywords and rankings! SEO is no longer keyword stuffing, but is everything from the technical structure to the content and even to design itself. SEO is found in how well everything works together. So long as the internet is alive, SEO cannot die.” -Stephanie Patterson, SEO Specialist
“Do search engines still exist? If so, then there will always be a way of optimizing for them. Only those who are unwilling to continually learn, adapt, and test will have a future in SEO. Those who don’t learn, adapt, and test will simply fade away and think it’s a problem with the industry as opposed to themselves.” -Kevin Phelps, Founder of Multifuse
“Can I choose yes and no? SEO is not dead, but is a completely different animal now. Many of the quick and easy SEO tricks that used to work are no longer relevant and can actually hurt your rankings. The good news? Even though current SEO takes more time, it seems to have leveled the playing field. Sites that received top placement in the SERPS but were absolutely undeserving due to poor content, no longer can hold a strong position. Instead of building quick links, you have to deliver strong, relevant content and a great user experience. You have to actually be better than other sites to land those coveted positions. If this is death, it sounds like heaven. Good job, Google.” -Lori Gilson, Marketing Manager at Progress Mfg. Inc.
“Digital Darwinism & Natural (Marketing) Selection Charles Darwin came up with the theory that an animal will evolve to be able to survive in its ecosystem. No animal displays this theory better than the digital marketer. SEO evolves and as such a digital marketer must evolve or face extinction. Throughout the years, Google’s mission has remained the same; to give the searcher the most relevant result the first time. Search engine optimizing used to be about gaming the system, often times through sheer force of links. In today’s algorithmic climate, that simply won’t work. In order to thrive an SEO must develop a better understanding of their site visitors’ behavior. A strong SEO will carefully review the behavioral metrics and improve them in order to increase organic traffic. SEO isn’t dead, nor will it ever die, but it changes at a furious pace. The less adapted marketers will get very little to no results. “Innovation is not a matter of transformation. It’s a matter of survival” – Paulo Caroli” -Jon Rodriguez, Senior Digital Marketing Strategist at Red Olive
“No, SEO isn’t dead because people are still using search engines to find information. The way people access that information is changing a little bit. People still search for things to buy online, they still use their phones to navigate themselves around new places or to find a place they haven’t been before. They still look things up online to find out and learn new information. Because people are now using search engines in new ways (think voice search) the way the search engines display information is changing but it’s been changing for the last 10+ years! SEO isn’t dead as long as you need a search engine to find information. Just the way you receive that information has changed. I’m looking forward to seeing the changes that Google has in store for their users and how it impacts SEO but as long as people need information and I don’t see that changing you will need SEO! Just the method and delivery of that information is what is changing! SEO is a growing field and I see that field changing with the demands and delivery of how people use and consume information. I’m personally excited for the future and I’ve been hearing SEO is dead ever since I got started in this field and that was over 10 years ago. People are still paying me for my services and I don’t see that changing for a long time!” -Ty Kilgore, CEO & Founder at Everything Digital Marketing
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