SEO is dead. They say. Don’t make me laugh.

Interesting research [below this post] shows that Organic Search is accountable for about 40 to 50 percent of total visitors, within different markets. That’s quite an impressive number considering all the blogs on ‘SEO is dead’ [8.5 mln results on Google].

Intriguing even. How are numbers like that possible? Is it because we, as a market produced 90% of the content currently out there in the past two years?[IBM research below the post] Or is it because people still rely on Google & Bing as their main source of searching for answers?

Most likely the answer lies in the middle. But this data shows quite the opposite of the death of SEO. Far from it even with 40 to 50 percent share of traffic. As a matter of fact it’s prove that SEO is quite alive, more important than ever and exactly doing what it has been doing all the time: changing. Either because we try to manipulate the results or because the market matures.

Who’s helping the organization adapt to the ever changing needs of SEO?

Within an organization someone always has to take responsibility for SEO. Maybe not ‘the seo guy’ per se. But someone has to think about how to get that huge amount of traffic your way via organic search. Someone that does not forget the basics, but focuses on the future at the same time. And in the meanwhile helps the organization to adapt along and change tactics accordingly.

Who in the organization experiments with what looks like the future and makes the now to be ahead of the competition? Let’s them [competition] live in the past. Testing and scaling is how to become ahead of the curve. No, that is the stage you are ahead of the curve.

Dare to be different

Being ahead of the curve means being different. Do things not everyone yet understands, but we SEO’s do. For most businesses that is very difficult. SEO is not something that is easily understood. Let alone the [investment] risk needed to invest in the unknown. Or more accurate: the unproven. Because let’s be fair to management: How often have you invested in something that you haven’t seen or done (yourself) before?

Hence it is imperative to educate the true potential of search to the business, the need to adapt, take risks and work with the unknown. That’s how evolution works in a search driven world. That’s how a business grows to the top of the market.

But being different is scary. Especially if it requires an investment, albeit in working hours or money. Let alone that SEO is not an exact science and upfront it is not sure that the strategy / tactic will actually work. Quite the paradox that we got ourselves in if you think about it.

But it makes total sense… Think about the current leaders for example; It’s the companies that dared to invest in content marketing years ago, when it wasn’t even called that way. Did they have the biggest budgets for it back then? Of course not, they made baby steps. Published simple, but qualitative articles and slowly enriched them with other media. Because data showed them that worked even better after they started testing it. All while others were still spinning articles and quite literally asking for links. Why? Because that was easier. The ones investing in quality content were the first, hence they didn’t need the big budgets to compete. There was no competition in this area as we know now. Think about it:

Being the first = there is no competition.

To me that also means that there is no loss when testing. There’s always a lesson to learn when trying something new. Especially if it’s combined with pure logic, reason, business focus and small steps at first. Something we SEO’s are pretty good at — if i may say so myself. We know the market demand, competitors, and where the website needs optimization to address this. But again, you only get there if you are enabled to do so within the organization.

Optimizing page titles doesn’t get you the 40–50% share of traffic

That is often where the problem lies. “SEO is a technical thing” and therefore you’re sitting in the IT department. Or “SEO is about changing page titles” so you get to sit with content working on meta descriptions, H1’s and Page Titles. Hooray. No, if you ask me SEO is becoming more and more a strategic center of the organization. I even dare to say that’s exactly where SEO should be within an organization anno 2016. Let me repeat that as a quote for strengthening purposes.

I dare to say that SEO should be at the strategic center of an organization anno 2016.

It’s all about integration of SEO actions within the organization

Think about it. Who’s better capable of overseeing and coordinating market-, competitor-, trend-, (technical) website performance, ranking- and business data to make it actionable with content, technique, pr, digital marketing, UX, merchandising, IT, category management aligned with overall business objectives? An experienced SEO has had real experience in most of those departments for quite some time! They speak the language with management, content, it and understand the data. Long gone is the time an SEO was merely a hacker. Although that sometimes still is the idea.. With all this knowledge and experience combined a good SEO has turned into a true strategist. One that knows how to prioritize and handle website optimization to grow the free organic search visitors for the long term with both short and long term improvements to the website and beyond. Where are the biggest opportunities and what is needed to benefit from them? Think about the numbers once more, 40–50% of traffic is a huge responsibility, or opportunity if that’s not yet the case for your business.

SEO is a shared effort of everyone working for the business

It definitely requires a certain maturity from the organization for the SEO to mature into an advising, insights and reporting, evangelizing, monitoring and a testing / research role. The organization needs to have SEO in it’s DNA for this to work. The SEO has to be able to blindly trust that the basics are taken care of. All departments need to be aware of their influence and willingness to act on it as the SEO will always be there to help fine tune the (missed) basics. Then, when SEO is within the DNA and we can start advising and steering based on our own research, that is when the 40–50 % traffic share definitely is a realistic target.

But also then we will not have reached our end as SEO. Change in our work is inevitable. We learned to adapt, and therefore we will do so in the future. But SEO is not dead. Please, we are just getting started!

“This post is my own and does not necessarily represent my employer’s positions, strategies or opinions”