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10

Feb

Is SEO Dead in 2021? The Honest Truth Exposed

“SEO is dead!!!”

We hear that claim once a week from business owners who think SEO is a marketing strategy offering diminishing returns. They see new ways of growing their business like Facebook Ads, Tik Tok, and digital PR and they want YOU to pull your SEO budget.

If you're a small business owner wondering if SEO really is dead, here’s the honest truth.

SEO isn’t dead. But it has changed.

As long as the internet exists, SEO will exist. Google has a global market share of 86.86%, and businesses like yours spent a combined $79.27 billion on SEO in 2020 (more than triple the spend compared to 2010).

So if the SEO industry is 3x-ing every 10 years, could it really be dead?

In this guide we’ll take you through the numbers that show SEO is still a proven tool to attract leads and customers, explain why the supposed death of SEO comes from confused business owners, and offer our practical tips on what to do next to improve your SEO in 2021.

Does SEO still work?

Before we show you that SEO is very much alive and kicking, consider some of the common complaints from business owners who are frustrated with the state of SEO in 2021.

Because when people complain that SEO is dead it doesn’t mean they’re saying SEO has gone away.

As long as Google is around then SEO will be around. What those business owners ACTUALLY mean is that SEO doesn’t work for them anymore. They think common SEO strategies are no longer effective, and that investing in SEO is a waste of money.

  • “I used to be able to spend a couple of hundred dollars a month to get to the top of Google”
  • “My content was outsourced to India and I was ranking, now the same strategy doesn’t work”
  • “I always put tons of keywords in my content to boost my SEO, now it does nothing”

These are the types of complaints we hear about SEO.

Far from showing SEO is dead, they show that old SEO strategies don’t work anymore, and that businesses who were trying to take shortcuts are super frustrated about it.

You can’t pay an offshore writer $5 on Fiverr and expect a blog that’s going to rank on Google. Just like you can’t pay someone a few hundred bucks to build 10,000 spam backlinks to your site and expect to see a change in your results.

Because SEO isn’t dead, but it has changed.

What used to be a process that was more easily manipulated is now a process that requires time and effort. There are no shortcuts in SEO in 2021 and that’s what frustrates short-sighted business owners. When they say “SEO is dead”, what they really mean is “I hate that I can’t take a short-cut to the top”.

To give you an idea of the type of SEO strategies that no longer work, these include:

  • Spammy backlinks
  • Keyword stuffing
  • Copying someone else’s content
  • Clickbait headlines
  • Creating tons of thin content pages
  • Hidden text or cloaking

But the SEO strategies that DO still move the needle are the same:

  • quality content that solves people’s problems
  • earned backlinks from relevant websites
  • technically sound websites that look great on mobile devices

Traffic from Google and other search engines still drives 50% of ALL traffic (that’s more than Google Ads, Facebook Ads and social media combined). And 70% - 80% of people ignore paid ads and focus on the organic (aka SEO) results on the first page of Google. These stats don’t exist in a vacuum - they show your customers still turn to Google when they want to spend money.

In short, SEO isn’t dead.

But SEO has evolved and the businesses who failed to evolve with it are pretty upset about it!

Why COVID-19 has made SEO more important than ever

COVID-19 made 2020 a challenging year for all Australians. Uncertainty relating to health, employment and travel sent people home - and lockdowns kept them there.

With so many people at home and separated, there was a silver lining for small businesses because the number of people going online and using the internet EXPLODED. Data from the Australian Communications and Media Authority showed engagement in online activities increased significantly during COVID-19 - with internet shopping seeing regular spikes.

The reason internet usage spiked to all-time highs is because your customers looked for their favourite products and services online. Instead of stepping foot in their favourite shop, they jumped on Google and started searching.

As more and more people look online to buy products and services, it’s the businesses who nail their SEO strategies and capture the top spots on the first page of Google who will benefit.

Think about your own experience during lockdown.

  • Did you order anything online?
  • Did you search for your favourite businesses on Google?
  • How often, in the past 12 months, did you scroll to the 3rd, 4th or 5th page of Google? (we’re guessing almost never).

The pandemic pushed more people to Google than ever before, and that’s great news for any businesses kicking off their own SEO campaign in 2021. Just as it’s been great news for Google whose ad revenue jumped from $33 billion to $37 billion as more people used Google to search for businesses and click on ads.

With more of your customers migrating to Google, putting your business on Google is the proven way to increase your leads, conversions, and customers.

Here’s why...

Is 2021 the right time to invest in SEO?

Absolutely.

It’s getting harder and harder to crack Google’s ranking algorithm (which is why so many business owners think SEO is “dead” when really it’s just their SEO tactics that are dead).

With less chances for unscrupulous businesses to manipulate their rankings, the first page of Google is more accessible than ever. Instead of competing with a business who bought spammy backlinks to try and manipulate their rankings, or a business who published weak content stuffed full of keywords, it takes evergreen optimisation strategies to rank.

Remember, these evergreen SEO strategies are: great content, quality backlinks, and a fast and mobile-friendly website.

The fact there are no shortcuts to the top of Google now is great news because it clears the runway for your business. There aren’t as many businesses clogging up the rankings by paying for black hat SEO tactics.

So whether you’re a local tradie, service provider or retail store looking to get online, implementing your own SEO campaign (or hiring an agency to do it for you) can boost your rankings while your competition are stuck using outdated practices that harm their rankings.

It’s a common mistake Australian business owners make to separate SEO from their business, thinking SEO is a separate strategy that web developers and coders need to apply.

In truth, investing in SEO is the same as investing in your business because the 3 pillars of successful SEO in 2021 are:

  • Great user experience (UX) = fast, mobile-friendly website
  • Helping customers solve their problems people = quality content
  • Website authority = backlinks

Let’s forget about SEO for a moment...

Do you think your business would benefit if your website gave people a great experience every time they browsed online? Do you think your business would benefit if your content consistently helped people? And do you think your business would benefit if people saw you as an authority?

The answer is yes, yes and yes.

Investing in SEO isn’t just about getting on Google, it’s about helping people see you as their local expert so whether you paint houses or make trousers, they’ll see you as the best choice when they’re looking for your products and services.

The power of organic search results on Google

Think about the last keyword you searched for on Google...

Once you saw your results, did you click on a paid ad or instantly scroll down to compare the organic results below?

Customers trust organic results more than paid ads, which is why organic website visits result in higher conversion rates than Google Ads, because there’s a trust factor that comes with a website that’s earned its position on the first page of Google. This goes back to the way SEO has changed in 202. It’s much harder for businesses to trick their way onto the first page, any business that’s ranking organically is seen as being authentic and reliable.

As a result of this trust, every lead you get through SEO is more qualified.

Instead of getting quote requests or bookings with word of mouth referrals who are just looking for the lowest price, you’ll have leads who went looking for help on Google, found your business, and are genuinely interested in your products and services.

This is why SEO leads have a conversion rate of 14.6% compared to traditional marketing leads that convert at just 1.7%.

It’s not time to retire your SEO goals yet (here’s why…)

In this article you’ve learned why SEO isn’t dead, it’s just changed and that makes a lot of businesses very angry because they wanted to pay for spammy SEO tactics to find shortcuts to the top.

If you’ve got SEO goals in mind for your business, and you’re keen to get more work through Google, it’s time to forget black hat SEO and focus on putting your customer’s first.

Great content, a fast and mobile-friendly website, and quality backlinks are still the foundation of SEO success. But if you want to tweak your site using advanced SEO strategies, we’ve unlocked our latest batch of tips to give you a step-by-step roadmap of what to do next.

Click the link below for our round-up of influential SEO strategies you can implement going forward.

Looking for more proven SEO tactics to boost your rankings in 2021?

Access our 16 most influential SEO tips exclusively here