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Is SEO Dead?

Christian and Shaun discuss SEO, is it as dead as many SEO bloggers and writers say it is?

"Shaun -
So I have received a lot of articles lately with big, dramatic headlines saying 'SEO is dead!', and it seems like every time Google brings out an update you get articles like that saying SEO is over, it's finished. What do you feel about that?

Christian -
They seem to come out of the woodwork everytime there is an update. And Google have said now, in their blog articles, that they are releasing updates on a monthly basis now. You hear about Google Panda & Penguin updates which have been all the talk over the last year and a half in the SEO industry.

It sends a lot of SEOs into a bit of a panic when Google releases a new update. For myself and our team here, it's important that we are aware of these things. We see what the update is and see if anything we do on any of our websites puts us at risk.

Shaun -
Yeah, but it doesn't mean that SEO is dead! It just means it's changing, that's all.

Christian -
Exactly, it just means it's changing. You have to stay on top of the game, because SEO is constantly changing and evolving. As someone who does SEO you have to be willing to adapt.

It can be frustrating at times, because you have to relearn your job effectively. I have to constantly make sure that I am not constantly being bombarded with SEO, because there are just so many different opinions out there in the industry.

Shaun -
I think that when you write those sort of articles, you probably have a different idea of what SEO is, therefore they are saying it's dead. If your definition of SEO is very spammy, links to your website, spammy content all over your site, and then Google penalises you for that, then those techniques are dead effectively.

But that is not what SEO means, it is much broader than that.

Christian -
There are literally hundreds of factors that influence how a website is ranked, for good or bad.

And some of those factors might be new ones that come in, some might get ditched by search engines. You think that years ago, there used to be a big emphasis on meta keywords. That got spammed by lots of people to get their sites working well.

Years ago that worked. But then search engines realised that people were just doing that to rank well and it wasn't really encouraging high quality content, so the search engines then said 'right, we are ditching the meta keywords tag as a signal'.

And the same thing happens with other factors along the way. I think of the Google Exact-Match Domain (EMD) update..

Shaun -
I think that that has been a big game-changer. That recent one, where Google is penalising domains that have keywords in them. And that has been a very common practice.

Christian -
Yeah, and that was quite recent, September/October time. And they said that if your website had an EMD and it's low quality, those two things coinciding, your website is at risk.

Shaun -
So something like 'web-design-cheltenham', those kind of domains?

Christian -
Yeah, yeah, 'cheap-hotels-cheltenham', anything like that, where you're not really referencing your brand.

I mean, Google is quite unclear about exactly how it goes about penalising. So on that note, the announcement was that the emphasis was on the pairing of an EMD with poor quality content. So for me, just try and see it as Google would see it - Google might flag up an EMD as a first step, but then ask the question 'is this a poor, or high quality website?'.

If it is a good quality website, for a genuine purpose, it's not got any suspicious links or anything like that, I think that Google should, in theory, bypass that site and it should be fine.

But if they find that it's an EMD, poor quality site, suspicions of SEO stuff going on, then a website is at risk.

And that particular update, was one where, I saw the update, and within a couple of weeks I am picking up a magazine and seeing an article with the title 'SEO is Dead', and I thought, 'Oh Gosh, not again, here we go'.

Shaun -
I actually think that, especially with the latest update from Google, the update is a positive update from Google. They are penalising poor quality content which is good for the internet.

It gives a boost to genuine websites, who don't practice the unethical SEO techniques and put genuinely good, unique content out there. Google will reward you for that.

Christian -
Yeah, and in the past Matt Cutts, who is the head of Web Spam at Google, released a video back in 2011 where he said that, Google does take account of keywords in a domain - yes it's a ranking factor, but that he was aware that a lot of sites were ranking well, just because of their domain name. The quality though, is not great.

And he said that "Google would be looking at that in the future.

What do you think? Are SEO bloggers and authors too quick to jump to conclusions? Is it poor journalism, or poor understanding of SEO as a discipline which causes such knee jerk reactions?

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