Is SEO Still Worth It in 2021 and Beyond?
You may have heard some rumours that search engine optimisation is something you should let go of in 2021.
We’re here to dispel those rumours. SEO is alive and well.
However, there are significant changes, which make businesses think it’s not working for them anymore. SEO has always been complex, and that’s why you cannot trust your SEO campaigns to neophytes in the field. With the modifications taking place, it is crucial that you go with these changes; otherwise, your website will not survive.
Why SEO is Not Dead
It’s disappointing to know that there are actually a number of marketers who believe SEO is dead. The reasoning behind this belief ranges from how complicated it can be, to the continuous changes Google rolls out.
Some businesses complain that they just do not move up Google’s search results. Therefore, they quickly assume that SEO is no longer the profitable channel for marketing it once was.
But it’s time to face the reality that SEO is not dead; rather, it continues to evolve.
Numbers do not lie, so let us take a look at how SEO has helped a great number of businesses with successful campaigns. The figures below are based on local search statistics after Google kickstarted its Pigeon update in 2014. During this time, black hat SEO tactics were no longer working, and more stringent guidelines were in place.
- 86% of people use Google Maps to search a specific business
- 78% of mobile searches resulted in customers purchasing at the business’ offline store
- 72% of local searches prompted people to visit enterprises to within 8km from their location
- 18% of mobile users who look up a product or company end up buying what they searched for
And speaking of local searches, 80% of customers turn to search engines like Google to find what they need, including a business, product, or service. The same percentage of users prefer to receive customised or targeted ads. These ads make it easier for them to locate a local business, especially those near their area. Additionally, 33% of all mobile searches are location-specific.
So, what do these numbers tell you? As a business, your goal is now to focus on mobile users. It’s also a good idea to target mobile search, which is easy with SEO. Of course, you should not forget about other platforms. SEO does involve some research, including competitor and keyword analyses. It’s all about knowing the trends while adapting to these changes.
In line with these changes, results under a particular campaign take some time to appear. But many people are not fond of changes. Why fix it if it’s not broken, right?
Some Tactics Are Dead
The truth is that the old SEO tactics were broken. Several years ago, websites could get away with tactics known as black hat SEO, which included:
- Keyword stuffing, which meant there were so many keywords on one page at a time
- Cloaking, which was designed to fool Googlebot by showing different content than what the visitor sees
- Link buying, where the business typically pays other websites to link back to a page or content, even though they are completely unrelated
Many companies also thought that having a bigger website meant they had a better chance of dominating Google rankings. As a result, they crammed their sites with useless content and pages. Typically, the pages were empty or duplicates.
Back in the early 2000s, all the mentioned tactics seemed to work. But Google discovered these tricks, which led to a more tightened set of standards. The changes caused several websites to rethink and modify their strategy in order to gain back their lost organic traffic. Additionally, Google began to impose penalties on websites that try to deceive the system, including a dramatic decrease in the overall website traffic.
Focus on Quality, Useful Content
Instead of fooling the system, Google favours white hat SEO. The tactics involve:
- Answering questions that users often ask through FAQs or a live chat agent
- Delivering the best experience for all visitors across all platforms, especially those on mobile devices
- Creating a fast website for everyone
- Offering a sound site structure complete with perfectly working links
The mentioned techniques above have quickly become top SEO trends this year. Additionally, if you are able to execute them on your website, you will see the results you want fast.
SEO is Demanding…But It’s Worth It
Many people give up on SEO because it’s not the easiest method of marketing a website. Back when black hat SEO tactics went under Google’s radar, ranking up on the search pages was unproblematic. For example, you could type hundreds of keywords relevant to your website and hide them using white coloured text. Then, you put all these keywords on specific pages of your site and voila! You got yourself keyword stuffing and cloaking techniques that would boost your website traffic.
These days, those fraudulent methods will not work under Google’s scrutinising bots. Instead, you’re required to wait while you produce quality content. But what makes content “quality?” It’s quite straightforward. You simply have to provide articles and blog posts that your target audience would want to read from start to finish. Content is king in the kingdom of SEO. Therefore, you need to focus on content while also ensuring that the pages have:
- Title tags
- Meta descriptions
- A cohesive layout
SEO is also about improving your XML sitemaps while ensuring that Google can read and scan the content without issues. Users should find content as compelling as possible. At the same time, it should also allow them to get the gist of the entire post quickly. It’s typically achieved with the use of headings and lists.
Clearly, SEO is more demanding in 2021 than how it was in the 2000s. But it is more beneficial than ever, especially in today’s world where competition across any industry is tough. If you’re not ready to get your hands dirty to provide the best experience for the Googlebot and your site visitors, SEO will not give you the results you want.
Despite all the changes that Google applies almost every year, SEO is here to stay. It may be complicated, but you can get the help you require from the right team of SEO specialists.
SEO has a fundamental principle, which is to assist Google in providing answers to the users’ questions. How you achieve this goal is up to you. But it’s essential that you give your audience the answer required when and how each user wants it. That is how you succeed in SEO this 2021 and beyond.