There has been a lot of talk recently about the death of SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
Well, SEO is not dead – but it is very much weaker!
Since the Google updates to Panda & Penguin the SEO changes have been considerable. Has the quality of search improved? I think not. There is a huge array of search terms that no longer produce results for niche small businesses. These same SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) now seem to produce a plethora of irrelevant pages and pages from the major branded giants – NOT what the searcher is looking for, and certainly not what the small business owner wants to see!
Google Panda & Penguin have sounded a death knell for many small online businesses.
But I am not suggesting that this demise is entirely due to Panda and Penguin. The diagram above demonstrates all too clearly the major problem – most Google search pages are now dominated by advertising of various types – Adwords/Shopping. In fact, it is very often impossible to see a non-local organic listing above the fold.
So, those long-coveted ‘first page of Google’ positions are now simply ineffective compared to previously.
A more detailed report by Tutorspree Blog entitled How Google is Killing Organic Search has analysed a much wider range of search strings. They have also considered a range of situations, such as on various mobile networks/phones, and pointed out that you have to scroll through multiple pages before you see your first organic listing. Their sobering closing statement reads:
“Nearly everything leads back to a Google product except for an ever-decreasing amount of “Organic” real estate.
It’s Google’s world, and from now on, you’ll have to pay to play in it.”
A further assessment has been made by the technical blog BGR where they make the much bolder statement “Google search displays only 13% organic results – the rest is ads and junk”.
In case you were in any doubt, even the mainstream media have picked up on these changes, as this article in The Guardian highlights. The conclusion they make is that businesses must move towards what it calls ‘social media optimisation’.
What does this mean for SMEs?
In our view – you need to refocus your SEO efforts away from search engine rankings and put more of the marketing budget into:
This can, in some cases, require a leap of faith, and some small business owners are understandably sceptical about the effectiveness of the “new world”.
One thing is certain, online businesses that only use search engine rankings for traffic will fail.
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