Search engine optimization. What is it? “The Language of Content Strategy” by Scott Abel and Rahel Anne Bailie defines it as:

The process of using best practices to design and create content that will rank well in organic search engine results.

Think of SEO this way: If a customer-focused content marketing program is the sandwich, then SEO is the mayonnaise. It touches nearly everything and enhances the overall flavor of the sandwich, but on its own, it’s not very appetizing. — Content Marketing Institute

The consensus within content doers is that content marketing and SEO are two very closely related disciplines and should be treated as such. While the destination might be to get prime optimization, the first step on that path is to deliver high-quality content. Without that strategic component, people might easily find you, but will just as easily lose interest after one sentence if that content lacks substance.

High rankings alone are not enough (or even the most important factor) when it comes to search.  Search Engine Watch

And Forbes agrees. Contributor Josh Steimle writes, “Search engine rank is the metric focused on more widely than any other, and yet in only rare cases is it the metric that matters most.”

In her book “Clout,” Content Science CEO Colleen Jones calls SEO, snake oil. “A cousin of overpromised technology, SEO snake oil is the promise of high search engine rankings with little effort.” She reminds us that search engine formulas aren’t public and they change frequently. Again, this goes back to compelling content. Without it, SEO’s relevancy dwindles. Quickly.

For the past 20 years, search engines haven’t stopped tweaking their algorithm. — Contently

The rub of a search engine algorithm is that it’s constantly evolving and there’s no sure way to know exactly what a search engine’s algorithm is. While page rank and SEO brings order to the web, if you happen to figure out how to game it, the algorithm will change.  

Organic reach is the number of people shown your post through unpaid distribution—and it’s down because users are searching elsewhere. — Entrepreneur

In the same article as the above quote titled, “The Top 4 Reasons SEO is Dead,” Tim Burd, CEO of DigitizelQ sites consumers intelligence level and frame of mind as the impetus for the sea change in how organic searching is actually measured. Organic search’s share of visits to publishers actually dropped 6%. In the past two decades, searching has gotten far more sophisticated with well-written and consistent content, syndicated and repurposed content, advanced keyword research, and heavy social media sharing all playing a part.

Search continues to evolve rapidly as a result of changes in user behavior; the content that is searchable; search technology; where search occurs—for example, within social networks and on new devices; and the arrival of new participants in the search market. — McKinsey

While social media seems to play into the downtrend of SEO, people are still searching for things organically. It’s just not in the buzzword-infancy-phase; it’s now a mature channel. While organic searching may have dipped, Google is still the world’s most popular search engine by a large margin.

Today, consumers have so many options of where to search, making it apparent that SEO may not be as heavily weighed as once thought. The concept of SEO itself isn’t going anywhere; it just means it’s not the only game in town. Regardless, high search results mean nothing if your content doesn’t live up to its ranking. Jones said it best, “I have a love-hate relationship with SEO analysts. I love their enthusiasm for making content easy to discover through search. I hate the outdated SEO advice many pass off as expertise and that, in turn, hinders good practices such as content archiving.” We couldn’t agree more.

The Author

Content Science is a growing content strategy and intelligence company and the publisher of Content Science Review. We empower digital enterprises for the content era by taking their content approach to the next level. Customers of our professional services and one-of-a-kind products (such as ContentWRX and Content Science Academy) include the Fortune 50, the world’s largest nonprofits, and the most trusted government agencies.

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