Over the past couple of months there has been quite a bit of banter on the web about whether or not search engine optimization (SEO) will finally fall on its face in 2010. This has been a perennial argument for at least the past ten years, maybe longer. After all, Google keeps updating its algorithm to avoid being gamed, right? This has been further accelerated in recent months by the addition of Google Suggest, personalized search, localized search, real-time search and finally, the search giant providing answers to questions within its own site (for example, sports scores, weather, movie showtimes, and I’m sure there are others). If Google is changing things to make this more difficult, then what’s the value of this service?
Don’t be fooled. Yes, the snake oil hucksters that schlep keyword stuffing and link spamming are doomed, but their future was never very bright to begin with. If this is your strategy you’ll get nowhere, and if you’re paying for this then you’re wasting your money. If you’re charging someone for this, shame on you.
The core aspects of SEO, however, are needed more than ever. Google alone averages more than 200 million searches per day. With that much daily traffic, their view of your website matters. Do you really want to completely ignore the potential to earn traffic from them? Or worse, leave it entirely to chance? If you get one ten-thousandth of one percent of that (that’s 0.0001%), 200 people per day will see your site. Do that many people cross your doorstep each day? Does your phone ring that many times each day? Clearly there is an upside to paying attention to Google.
The traffic that your website receives can provide keen insight into what your target market thinks about your company. Whatever the goals of your company, your website can help you get there. Increasing sales, improving customer retention, reaching a new customer base, improving the return that you get on your AdWords spend… these are all achievable. As long as you are measuring your website’s traffic and can recognize trends, you can reach your goals.
Don’t misread the data. Yes search is changing, it has been since it started. It would be a mistake to infer that this makes SEO irrelevant. Quite the contrary, the changes that Google is making strengthen their search results, which gives people greater confidence in the answers they find through Google, which means that more people will be searching.
Optimizing your website for search is more important now than ever. Frankly, it’s irresponsible to think otherwise.