Digital marketing changes at a remarkable pace, often leaving website owners wondering what they should do to get the best results. Recently, phrases such as “content is everything” have become commonplace in SEO news headlines. The new emphasis on content naturally can make you wonder if SEO still matters, or if it’s dead.

Humble beginnings

SEO began in the early days of internet search. Website owners discovered that they could “game the system” by loading pages with keywords. Primeval search engines simply counted keywords and their frequency when determining what results to show to their users. All that has changed.

Algorithms rule

Nowadays, Google dominates the search industry and has revolutionized search to ensure that users can find high-quality, actionable content. The algorithm that powers Google and its competing search engines have the ability to measure the readability of a page as well as other factors such as social media signals, backlinks, formatting, content types and more.

Artificial intelligence

As search engines become smarter, so do your competitors. Corporations with access to the latest AI engines and machine learning systems have gained a strong advantage in the world of SEO. This means that getting to the top of search engine results pages (SERPS) is becoming nearly impossible for owners of small websites.

Information blocking

SEO strategies depend on having ample relevant information available. Unfortunately, Google has become involved in “information blocking,” preventing Google Analytics from displaying many queries that generate traffic for any particular site. As a result, you will see entries such as “not provided” or “other” as a growing percentage of your results.

SEO tips

Although in many ways the outlook for SEO seems bleak for small businesses and even for small SEO firms, the situation falls short of hopeless. Sites still need to follow sound SEO practices and third-party SEO services can still help you attract relevant search engine traffic. However, when SEO comprises the bulk of your digital marketing strategy, you may want to diversify.

So, moving forward, continue to audit your website for SEO, but you should also expand your effort to increase the quality and diversity of your content. Also, remember to engage on social media and pursue other strategies such as influencer marketing. In other words, SEO still matters, but it doesn’t warrant the time and energy it may have commanded in the past.