4 Reasons Traditional SEO is Dead
How User Experience and Site Authority are Changing the SEO Game
If you’ve been a business owner for long, chances are you remember when the buzz about search engine optimization began. When internet databases like Google and Ask Jeeves first gained popularity in the late ‘90s, these search engines ranked pages by keywords, page titles, and inbounding links. Pages often gained high rankings by “keyword stuffing” and other simple on-site tricks. But by the time the mid-2000s rolled around, search engines began ranking pages based on the quality of content provided. And that’s when the topic of SEO took off. Major search engines like Google implemented huge changes to weed out websites that prioritized advertisement-based revenue over user satisfaction. And similar changes to Google’s algorithms are still happening today.
With all that said, we’re naming 2017 the year that traditional SEO is dead. So here are four reasons you should be thinking more about how your website performs and less about how it ranks on search engines.
1. The Internet is More Than Just Words
The intention of every major search engine is to create an easier way for website users to find the content they’re looking for. And in the early days of search engine optimization, the only tangible way to analyze content for its relevance was through words. But a website is more than just words, right? It’s made up of graphics and videos and links and structural elements. The limitation of traditional SEO is that it focuses on only one piece of an entire website: the words. While search engines may only analyze a percentage of the big picture, internet users don’t interact with websites the same way. Visitors see and experience every element of a website at the same time, and while the words are a huge part of that experience, they’re not the only element that matters.
Focus this year on establishing a holistic approach to the way you build or maintain your website. SEO is important—there’s no doubt about that—but at its best, SEO is only responsible for getting people to your site. It’s up to you what they do when they get there.
2. User Experience is Everything
While the latest Google algorithms consider more than 200 factors for ranking on its search engine, there are only a handful of factors that correlate with significant results. Many of these significant factors are used to determine the quality of a site, which directly affects page rankings. Factors such a dwell-time (how long a user stays on your site), bounce rates (when a user lands on your site and then immediately navigates away), and page views per unique visitor have major influences on page rankings. Now more than ever, user experience (or how users interact with a website) is critical.
Creating a website that is both easy to use and engaging will boost repeat traffic, increase conversions, and grow your word-of-mouth referrals. And doing so establishes the quality of your website with Google and other search engines by increasing dwell-time and page views and by decreasing bounce rates. At the end of the day, both your page rankings and your website conversions will increase, which means growth on both sides without any sacrifice to either.
3. Organic Traffic from Social Media Increases Every Day
Very few business owners doubt the power of social media anymore. In an age where the average person spends more time in a day on social media than they do eating or drinking, there’s no denying that social media matters. Social media is responsible for a massive amount of website traffic every day, and the percentage of website traffic from social media is constantly increasing. Many industries experience a large percentage of revenue coming from traffic that originated with social media, meaning that users are becoming more and more likely to find your business on social media than they are on major search engines. This is especially true for e-commerce businesses, who report an average of 26% of website traffic coming from social media.
A strong social media strategy creates an opportunity for a business to tell its story to people who would normally never get to hear it. Being active on social media is a proactive approach to raising awareness about your business because you’re meeting people where they are rather than waiting for them to look for you. It’s always important to have a great website, but getting people to your website is a major undertaking. Often times, a strong social media strategy is far more effective for driving website traffic than SEO.
4. Google Has Trust Issues
Remember what we said about “keyword stuffing” and other outdated methods for ranking pages on Google that became popular years ago? Turns out Google has developed some major trust issues since then. Now, Google uses an extremely complex system called PageRank to determine the trustworthiness of a website and its domain. This calculation analyzes factors such as backlinks, domain age, and domain reputation to establish how trustworthy your site is. SEO expert R.L. Adams says gaining Google’s trust can take years, especially if your website is relatively new, and gives some great tips of building that trust over time.
The bottom line is, boosting your page rankings (especially in a competitive industry) can be an overwhelming undertaking. Think of establishing strong domain authority as a 5-year long play. There are things you should be doing to increase it, but it’s not the only way (or even the best way) to grow your business.
It’s easy to get roped into SEO schemes that guarantee first-page placement for relevant keywords, but be cautious about placing too much value on paid methods for boosted page rankings. Many SEO companies charge more than $1,000 per month for their services, and while they often deliver on their promises, first-page rankings don’t always translate to increased revenue. If your website is not user-friendly and your content is not high-quality, chances are that all that extra traffic your website is getting is wasted effort. Prioritize creating a site that engages users and delivers an unforgettable experience, and you’ll quickly see your website traffic resulting in increased conversions and growth for your business.
If you’ve got questions about your digital strategy and how to best grow your business, contact us today to schedule a consultation.