Is SEO worth it 2021?
Does SEO still matter in 2021?
Is it still relevant?
These are common questions that business owners, website owners, and companies have about digital marketing.
SEO has indeed changed over the past decades. Sometimes referred to as ‘old school SEO’ and ‘modern SEO’.
Relevant Read: Complete Guide to Understanding SEO (2021)
What is Old School SEO?
Old school SEO refers to outdated techniques of SEO that search engine algorithms such as Google bots have caught onto. Such search engine optimisation practices are commonly frowned upon, as they are likely to bring more harm than good to websites who employ such strategies in today’s context.
Up till the early 2010s, companies can still easily get their website ranking boosted for SEO:
- Identifying high demand, low competition keywords.
- Check for profitability.
- Create a page around each of these phrases.
- Heavily optimise the page – site architecture.
- Build a lot of backlinks to the page, with quantity in mind over quality, and spamming exact keyword phrases.
Back then, such methods can easily lead to improved rankings and high profitability in a short period of time.
For example, we first look at the number of searches for each term in Google. There are 2400 searches a month, suggesting a relatively high demand compared to other search phrases around it, which floats around the 1000 quantity.
This can be a good term to target as the high bidding costs has validated the effectiveness of this term – companies are paying high prices to get ranked for such terms, suggesting its profitability.
Next, we create a page around the term. Suppose we pick water fasting weight loss, with 2400 average monthly searches, and weight loss surgery options with 4000.
We then take these keyword phrases and heavily optimise the pages. It is an easy process – repeating the exact keywords in the entire page.
Next, we include backlinks, and anchor texts with related keywords. This would give the website the required spike in ranking for it to land in the first page of Google.
However, over time, Google notices these types of ‘fast and furious’ attempts to abuse their algorithm and stepped up its efforts towards curbing such practices.
After all, these webpages are not user-friendly, effectively going against Google’s motto of value-adding to their web users.
These are not user-friendly and do not benefit readers, and Google hates it. Google now penalises these poor pages and many websites have been hit as a result.
Google now places heavy emphasis on quality content, heavily penalising websites with spammy-content and links.
Old School SEO Practices That Are No Longer Effective
It is not to say that these following SEO tactics are wrong, but being slightly outdated, they might be, at the very least, limited in their effectiveness.
Some industries or website owners might find success with such practices, but have to bear the risk of facing the consequences in the long run or near future.
- Keyword Stuffing. Spammy old tactics no longer work as effective as they were before, as bots evolved to comprehend the difference between authentic and malicious spam sites.
- Focus keywords and meta descriptions were a heavy point of focus in the industry years ago. In fact, SEO efforts were heavily driven by singular keywords and single pages. However, in recent years, the attention is shifted to engagement metrics instead. Brands now engage its audience in order to build an active following of online users, focusing on selling its brand rather than its product or service.
- Outdated SEO key performance index (KPI) would largely focus on ranking standings. In the past, SERP standings are everything. However, as SEO becomes more advanced, such as the inclusion of local SEO, brands and companies start to turn their attention towards being more ROI focused.
What is Modern SEO?
One thing unchanged about SEO is its concept. SEO is really just about information showcase and retrieval. You want to let your content be searched, crawled and retrieved by search engines more easily.
You want to know the language that your customer speaks, the questions they ask, and eventually, provide the best possible answer and resource to their question.
Improvements and Changes in Algorithms
Modern SEO’s significant change comes in the form of improved algorithms. Through the use of machine learning, computers understand human language better than before. Even today, their concept of the human language is continuing to grow.
Think about the suggestive search function that Google has.
How it helps you autocorrect your common errors when constructing an email.
How it suggests to your what to search before you can even finish your thought while typing into the search bar.
How it is able to provide generic responsive suggestions to the emails that you have received.
Over time, improvement in algorithms leads to faster and more accurate search engine results.
Voice Search & Virtual Assistants
Think about the increase in voice searches and virtual assistants.
Bixby, Siri, Google Assistant, Cortana are likely to perform more searches as time goes by, and websites have to optimise and account for voice searches now.
Voice searches can be seen in the same vein as long-tail keywords as they are signs of a more committed search intent. It would be a waste of oppurtunities for website to neglect this aspect of modern SEO.
Searches are also becoming more precise and specific, as the internet grows in usage and information availability over the past two decades. Detailed research focusing on customer’s explicit requirements, behaviour are used to formulate design marketing campaigns to target and attract relevant traffic.
Therefore, it is crucial to optimise content and provide information that satisfies user’s immediate enquires.
One way of achieving customer base is by addressing what customers want and understanding the ‘why’ behind the query. This is commonly referred to as Search Intent.
In modern SEO, it is necessary to incorporate information from Google while making an effort to think beyond the unsaid. Marketers are tasked with an additional burden when promoting a product, having to evaluate ways to not only sell the product, but also the brand message to audience members.
Long Tail Searches
In addition to search intent, which shows the variation and different types of search intent for different enquiries, modern SEO also focuses more on long tail keywords, a fairly recent concept which represents customers who have a deeper level of interest for a certain product or service.
Websites now focus on optimising for long-tail keywords as well, as long-tail keywords have, understandably, better conversion rates. According to recent research by WordStream, although the top 10% of landing pages convert at 11.45, the average conversion rate for long-tail keywords is far higher, standing at 36%!
That is more than twice as effective as traditional landing pages. With that number, no company can afford to not pay attention to this modern SEO strategy.
With more searches done by search engines and its users, content become increasingly common on the internet. Blog articles, videos, podcasts and infographics, can all be obtained through a search. More companies will try to position themselves in that digital space to attract customers, making content creation and content marketing an even competitive field than it was before.
There is a larger demand for good content, and an increased expectation for companies to provide them. Companies compete against one another to churn out information that can solve the searcher’s problem better than anyone else on the search result ranking page.
Making sure your content matches the intent of the user will reward you with screen time with your prospective customers. The focus of content for SEO purposes have shifted over the years to focus more on the audience’s perspective, rather than the digital algorithm.
After all, this makes sense. No amount of digital momentum is going to be able to compensate for organic traffic. No point being the first on Google rankings, but customers are reluctant to stay on your website long enough to make a purchase.
Recommendations, push notifications and internet cookies have had a tremendous impact on how people consume content online. AI systems are not only used by teams working.
Technical SEO remains as the foundation of quality and comprehensive websites. In this era of competitive digital marketing space, many technical aspects of websites have to be in line for a website to perform well for both humans and non-humans.
- Internal Linking
- Mobile friendliness
- Site Search
- Page Loading Speed
- Duplicate Content
Is SEO Dead?
With the rise of machine learning and AI systems, it is commonly misunderstood that SEO will be drowned in the rise of algorithms. Some might even feel that pay per click ads are a better option.
After all, with machines capable of automatically organising human knowledge and conducting voice searches, what would you need SEO for?
Nevertheless, SEO is still here to stay. As long as algorithms and bots fail to understand websites as well as a human eye and mind can, SEO efforts will always be required, regardless of on-page, off-page or technical aspects of optimisation.
Much of the SEO industry is about chasing the ‘latest discovery’ and ‘next big thing’. However, it is important to note that some of the old methods still work, just with a different approach and focus.
As the old saying goes “The more things change, the more they stay the same”.
SEO can be summarised as simply a method of data integration. It is important as it acts as the core factor and foundation for other digital marketing channels. Hence, SEO remains relevant in 2021, and is likely to remain so.
The Future of SEO
The future of search engines may involve algorithms knowing what a webpage is about without the need to watch words on a page to words within a search enquiry.
Google’s understanding of websites is improving at a frightening rate, even in 2021. The Knowledge Graph certainly points toward a future far different in how Google may rank and understand web pages.
Bing, unknowingly, is catching up to Google in its own way. While it is far from being the number one search engine in the world, being a default search browser for Microsoft devices allow it to gain some traction. Currently, Bing is known for being the only search engine that can peform a social search, which integrates social media activity with its search results.
Bing’s approach to ranking page is drastically different from Google’s, instead opting to rely more heavily on social signals in their search engine algorithm. This makes Bing’s search engine more like a distant relative of social media marketing.
While there is plenty of unknown in this approach, it is interesting to see how this development can unfold.
For now, intent-matching, providing a pleasant user experience and having valuable backlinks should be the guiding principles of any digital marketing team looking to enhance their website’s SEO foundations.
Google will continue to push and rank results to match ‘intent’, based on their historical data and ranking signals.
With information so readily available, and brands so easily substituted, the intern has indeed redefined the traditional marketing funnel from the old days. People no longer adhere to a linear journey when making a purchase.
Companies are beginning to notice that, and hence, make an effort to enhance their digital marketing channels.
Find us today to get a quotation for your SEO needs.