Why SEO Doesn’t Matter Anymore and What You Should Do Instead

Search engine optimization used to be the holy grail of getting more traffic. Placing high in search engine rankings for prime keywords related to your niche could send thousands of visitors to your site on a regular basis. But more and more, search engine traffic isn’t as important to most websites. They’re finding their traffic from other places.

Why SEO Doesn’t Matter Anymore and What You Should Do Instead

What do you think is the reason for this? Here in this post we trying to explain why search engine optimization doesn’t matter anymore and what are the alternatives for getting more and more traffic.

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7 Reasons SEO Doesn’t Matter Anymore

Social media is a big part of the blame for this situation. People can now ask their friends or complete strangers for recommendations on virtually anything, and get human-filtered results within minutes through Facebook, Twitter, or other social networking sites. Internet users are also becoming more savvy and can cut through search results to find the best content, regardless of optimal placement for the best keywords.

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Even in cases where search engines still send significant traffic to a site, search engines are becoming so much more intelligent that it’s getting harder and harder to get good placement unless you’re providing the best content.

Read on fore more information about what’s making search engine optimization less important, what you should do about it, and even when it still is important.

1. Facebook

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More often than not, people aren’t using search engines to discover new content online. Instead, they’re turning to their friends. And with its new “Like” button appearing all over the web, Facebook is becoming an ever-more-important source of finding content online.

Rather than using Google or Yahoo! to find information on a topic, users are asking their Facebook friends and groups about whatever information they need. People also trust this information more, as it’s coming from people they know, rather than just being returned in what often seems like a random pattern.

According to a latest research it’s been indicated that Facebook has currently More than 500 Million active users. If Facebook were a physical nation than this would make them the third most populous country in the world, after China and India.

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And if the service continues to grow as rapidly as in the three months to July, it will reach one billion in about 15 months—almost the size of India.

What You Should Be Doing — Facebook opens up a host of possibilities for driving traffic to your website. Incorporating a “Like” button on your site should be your first step if you want your visitors to be able to easily share your site. You’ll also want to create a page or group for your company or website, and encourage people to join. You can put a link to the group on your website, as well as send out recommendations to your current FB friends. Another option with FB is targeted advertising, which can be relatively inexpensive.

Be careful not to use Facebook to spam your fans, though. Post information on your page or group that is relevant to your niche and will also be useful to your fans. If all you do is post about your company or product, you’ll drive away fans.

2. Social Bookmarking and News Sites

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A lot of people are actively involved in social bookmarking and news sites. Sometimes these are niche sites devoted to a particular industry, while other times they’re more general. In many cases, it’s more effective to turn to sites like this when looking for information on current events or information of interest than it is to use search engines.

Really involved users might turn to their social bookmarking and news sites when looking for virtually any information. Because of tagging and built-in search functionality on these sites, it’s easy for users to find pretty much anything. And the fact that someone else has already looked over something and decided it was worth saving for later reference or sharing with others, the sites found in this manner are considered more trustworthy.

What You Should Be Doing — Adding social bookmarking links to your website is a great way to encourage your visitors to promote your pages for you. You’ll also want to set up accounts on the major social bookmarking sites (Digg, Reddit, Delicious, StumbleUpon), as well as any sites specific to your niche. Promote relevant content both from your website and elsewhere; otherwise you might be viewed as a spam account.

3. Better Search Engine Algorithms

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Search engines get smarter every day. SEO tactics that worked brilliantly years or even months ago don’t work as well now. Search engines know how to weed out the obvious SEO tactics to get at the meat of a site’s content. Because of this, SEO tactics are becoming less and less effective.

As search engines get even more intelligent, on-site SEO strategies will only get less effective. While search engines will still recognize good, relevant content, there will be few strategies that will give sites a boost outside of providing good content. Off-site SEO strategies will likely still work for quite a while longer, but search engines are aware of many of the tactics used to make sites appear more popular than they actually are. It’s a trend that’s going to continue for the foreseeable future, at least.

What You Should Be Doing — This one is pretty obvious: you need to provide high-quality, relevant content on your site. Forget about keyword stuffing and writing with SEO in mind. Just provide content that’s important and useful to your target visitor and trust that search engines will be able to sort out the best sites in a given niche.

4. Blog Roundups and Showcases

There are blogs for virtually every niche in existence. And many of these blogs post roundups of content from various sources online. These roundups are a fantastic way of finding information about a given topic without having to wade through search results.

Again, one reason people turn to these types of posts is the idea that someone has already been through the content featured and has weeded out the content that isn’t any good.

What You Should Be Doing — There are two ways to approach this type of content and promotion. First, if you have a blog, you’ll want to do a couple of these roundups. Include both resources from your own site and elsewhere. These types of posts get bookmarked and passed around for months after they’re written.

The second thing you’ll want to do is create content that’s well-suited to being included in these types of posts. Email bloggers who write about your topic and make sure they’re aware of your site (but also make sure you don’t nag them or become annoying). Getting featured in a post like this can drive traffic to your site for months.

5. Twitters

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When looking for information about a topic, a lot of users turn to Twitter. It’s easier to ask a question there than it is to do a search, and you often get much better results. In a lot of cases, people have more Twitter followers than they do friends on other social networking sites, and so there’s more chance to find the information they’re looking for. Plus, Twitter lets anyone see your updates (unless your feed is private, of course), which opens up some great opportunities for promotion.

Twitter is used for everything from breaking news to research. Trending topics give us insight into what’s going on at that moment, and what’s being talked about. Hashtags let us focus on particular topics and see what people are saying whether we’re following them or not. Twitter is a giant conversation, among both strangers and friends, that anyone can become a part of.

What You Should Be Doing — Every business should have a presence on Twitter. Businesses should set up Twitter accounts to interact with their customers and prospective customers, and to see what’s happening in their industry. Businesses should also use Twitter as a proactive customer service tool. You can see the experiences users are having with your business almost in real-time. You’ll also want to follow relevant hashtags related to your industry and answer questions being posed by other users. This can be a great way to pick up new followers. If the information you provide is useful and relevant, people will view you as an expert and will turn to you next time they have questions.

6. People Already Have Their Favorite Sites

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Because the Internet has become such an integral part of the lives of so many people, most regular Internet users already know their favorite sites for certain things. If they’re looking for an apartment to rent, for example, they’ll go to Craigslist without bothering to search elsewhere. If they’re looking for a book, they might go straight to Amazon or Abe Books. What they won’t do is use a search engine.

Internet users find websites they’re comfortable with and are hesitant to deal with a new site, especially when it comes to actually purchasing something. When they do business with a new site, they often do so based on the advice of someone else, not based on search engine results.

What You Should Be Doing — Figure out who the big sites are in your niche and then figure out how you can get your content featured on them. With some sites this is pretty easy. If you’re a local business, put ads up on Craigslist that direct people to your website. If you sell a product, see if you can become an Amazon Associate to sell through their website. If all else fails, see if you can place an ad on the site that leads your industry, or see if they’d be interested in featuring some of your content.

7. More Savvy Searchers

Internet users are much more savvy than they were ten or even five years ago. When someone goes to a search engine to find something, they often know exactly what keywords will yield the best results and can quickly weed through the results that don’t offer what they need.

Search volume also plays into this. Searchers can use very specific search terms and still often get thousands or millions of results returned. Because of this, they’re not afraid to search for very specific things, since they know they’ll still likely get enough relevant results. This is where the long-tail comes in, and the long-tail is harder to optimize for effectively, since you never really know how someone is going to reach your site, or what search terms they’ll use.

What You Should Be Doing — Again, this comes down to providing great, relevant content. Stop trying to game the search engines and simply put the best content on your website that you can get. Search engine traffic is becoming a smaller and smaller part of traffic for more established websites, as they get more incoming links and referrals. Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay any attention to how searchers are finding your site. And by all means, if you find some obscure search term is sending you significant amounts of traffic, consider adding more content around that term.

When SEO Is Still Important

All of the above isn’t to say that search engines have become completely irrelevant. There are still plenty of industries and niches where search engines are vital for sending new traffic.

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Informational websites are probably the most likely to benefit from good SEO. Part of this has to do with the volume of content. If a website focuses solely on providing valuable information, they’re already a step ahead when it comes to good search engine placement. Making other adjustments to further optimize your content (like good alt tags on images, etc.) only helps improve your placement even more. And people still use search engines when looking for information.

Industries that deal with things people might not be comfortable discussing with strangers (or even friends and family) also benefit greatly from SEO. After all, if it’s not a topic someone wants to ask their Facebook friends for advice on, they’ll turn to search engines. It’s still a relatively anonymous method of finding information online.

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74 Comments

  1. Very great article. I think that is a war between SEO (Google) and social media websites. As you said, SEO is still important.

  2. Disagree. SEO is still very much relevant, it’s just there are others ways by which you can drive traffic to your site.

  3. Discordo. Quanto mais os algoritmos ficarem espertos, mais aparecerão itens da checklist de SEO, pois o Google preza por uma web semântica e relevante e não por sites pouco otimizados, já que não haverá mais essa necessidade. Lembre: o Google defende a boa experiência do usuário nos sites, não só em sua SERP.
    ———————————————————
    Disagree. The more the algorithms become smarter, more items will appear in the checklist of SEO, because Google appreciates a semantic n’ relevant web, not non-optimized sites (since there will be no such need). Remember: Google defends the great user experience on sites, not only in his SERP.

  4. Great post. I totally agree.

    Should people still pay attention to SEO? Yes.
    Is it as important as it used to be? No.
    Will it continue to lose importance. Yes.

    IMO Social networks are not only driving traffic but they are driving more valuable traffic from more engaged users. Social networking is driving word-of-mouth traffic which will always have more value than traffic sent by someone who is able to ‘game’ Google.

    Also, I hate to link drop but I wrote a blog post about Facebook Search that is pretty relevant to this discussion. http://t.co/DXle8wQ

  5. Excellent article. Enjoyed reading this one. I liked how facebook defined as country in image showing its popularity and growth. Great work.

  6. I think that social media is becoming more and more relevant for businesses to invest in, to drive more and a different type of traffic to their sites. In a way, search engines are replacing the phone book, still are. Search engines are increasingly trying to come up with more relevant results for a search term, and therefore SEO will always be relevant to get good rankings. There’s many forms of social media now, I just don’t think it replaces search, it’s more like another platform to create more interest and sales

  7. Great stuff! But do you also recommend what Content Management Systems web developers must use in order to fully utilize all the stuff that you mentioned?

  8. Interesting article. I still feel SEO is still super important. As most of you know, SEO has changed with the times, including the rise of social media. The two has to work together; not become cyber enemies.

    I think SEO as gained a bad rep for being a miracle solution when it’s really just using everything the article has talked about. You should be using social media in addition to writing good, relevant content.

    Thanks for the great read!

  9. Many great points! SEO is still an important part but Social Media is taking over some of its roles. Stay connected and be more versatile in your online precense. Thanks!

  10. Ya SEO is such a huge scam. I don’t know why people even bother any more…just make good content. Could it be any simpler?

  11. SEO traffic is the most targeted traffic you can get, especially if you are trying to get people to buy things. If they come to your site through a search and are looking to purchase, 9 times out of 10 they will if they came from a search engine.

    80% of the people on the internet barely know how to use a computer, let alone how to use social media. They click on things they like and go to google for anything else they need. SEO will always be important until the baby boomers and generation X are gone.

    I see the younger generations making SEO obsolete. Give it 20 years and everything will have changed.

  12. Jojo,
    Wordpress is a great CMS to use for websites. It is easy to install/configure and very easy to add/edit content. It is SEO friendly right out of the box, and with a few social media plugins – you can take care of all on page SEO, social media linking, and more.

  13. Brilliant article! I do agree that Social Media is taking over in many ways. But I do feel that clients still need to take more educated decisions as there are still a number of myths surrounding Social Media.

    Cheers

  14. Of course, that’s true.

    But as you said SEO has it’s own value why because all social media frnds aren’t free to respond to our queries. So in such cases search engines help a lot in answering our queries.

    Thanks
    Sankar

  15. Good Article.enjoyed reading it.

  16. IMHO, both the SEO and social media should be used to achieve the goal of Web visibility.

    Great article.

  17. Bravo. Excellent scathing attack on why SEO is not so much essential. Yes, I agree that these social networking sites and guest posts on relevant popular blogs can really bring in tons of traffic. I appreciate your digg on the SEO and this one post can really help optimize our ideas on how to get traffic from sources other than SEO.

    Thanks,
    Rafi
    GraphicsFuel.com

  18. Good Article, Thanks!

  19. This is a great attack on the subject, and i totally agree how we use social media to get our news. However i think SEO still shouldn’t be overlooked!

  20. Very powerful article indeed, and i almost agree with the most of the terms.

    thanks for sharing.

  21. Enjoyed your post. completly different view.
    thanks

  22. Good article but very controversial subject.

    There are surely more traffic sources than search engines nowadays. However one should never neglect search engine optimisation.

    There are site owners thinking why should we care as we already have enough traffic from social media sites? The answer is it is not only targeted traffic but also users dont search for products or services first on twitter or facebook. They search on search engines first, then might compare the results with social sites. This tell me, the traffic from social media sites are secondary.

    It will be a long time before before we find out whether social media marketing can take over SEO, in the mean time we should be versatile and utilize both for best practices.

  23. I would have to disagree. Search engines are going no where. If you bring up your analytics, you would know that you will be thanking Google.

    However, it is shifting slowly to social media traffic.

  24. Internet users are much more savvy than they were ten or even five years ago. When someone goes to a search engine to find something, they often know exactly what keywords will yield the best results and can quickly weed through the results that don’t offer what they need.

  25. Search engines always will have a place and I reckon it will always be a big place as far as net traffic is concerned. The only alternative I can see is what AOL and Microsoft attempted to do in the mid to late 90s… having ‘web channels’ that serve content much like a TV channel. And we all know how bad that is!

  26. You couldn’t be more wrong with this article. I guess that’s why startups and SMB’s hire us to clean up the mess designers make.

    Keep thinking SEO doesn’t matter, it’s more business for us!

  27. Great article but I think SEO is still very relevant

  28. Social networks are great propagators. Search engines are better initiators.

  29. Your insights about this is very well said. I really like your article. You are right. SEO is not that important anymore but it helps, it is still direct selling who is important to gain more fans.

  30. If SEO doesn’t matter then why is Google still the #1 or #2 most visited website every single day? Facebook and Google are constantly switching places, but people don’t search Facebook for sites that sell Craftsman power tools, they search Google (or go to Amazon).

    I work for an SEO company and it is a VITAL part of getting client’s websites to the people looking for them – both organic and paid search. From a corporate standpoint, Facebook and Twitter don’t work unless people know your company and website exists first. Social media should be used to augment your SEO strategy. SEO will be relevant for many years to come yet.

    Also, Facebook and Twitter will only be around until people get tired of them, which is getting pretty close for Facebook with all the security issues it’s been having lately. Search engines will be around for many years yet.

  31. great article , i like the idea of comparing websites with countries very creative drive alot of ideas inside me :)

  32. I personal think SEO is still the important part. The trend in Social Media is huge, but who want to sit the whole day and read everything that is typed in Social Media? Most people still search in Google, Yahoo or Bing for what they are looking for. Social Media is maybe more like a forum to ask question and get answer fast, but to buy something I go direct to the search engine.

  33. Social midea is 3rd wave of SEO, but the point is you should have more useful info to make others to socialize your site~~~

    Google still the NO1, but they should take more care of their social group now, cos its the future trends~~~

  34. and BTW~~~

    seems Google now want to buy some new social sites to strong their social function, seems all failed, okurt, jaiku??? buzz… what’s next???

  35. and the last comment to this post:

    the good , high quality content is the key to win the traffic war~~~~

  36. “…a lot of users turn to Twitter. It’s easier to ask a question there than it is to do a search..”

    I don’t get this statement. Why is it easier? Either way, I go to a website and type in a question/topic. In fact, search engines are easier to do this on because you get immediate results rather than having to wait for someone to reply to you on Twitter.

  37. You are right, I think we in future have to be more expert in Social media optimization rather than SEO.

  38. good article, but i am not agree with your point of view, social media sites will never be a search engine alternative, and they can’t have the power of google and other search engines.
    with a sing click on “Search” button you will find a lot of articles, pictures, videos, ebooks, etc etc..
    while in social media is made for making friends, chatting, entertainment, games, sharing content and not for searching and finding.

  39. Social media is relevant for businesses to invest in, but SEO is SEO… and google first page is very first thing ppl looking for…

  40. Good Articles

  41. Few Points are relevant few are use less or fake. overall, good combination…

  42. All these features which you decribe have their own impor tance – i t always depends what you are looking for and where you are in life the moment your search begins.
    Not likely that a rocket scientist and a pizza maker have very much incommon when it comes to many facettes in life.

  43. Well, I got here from Google Image search and I must say this is a great piece of writing. In these age of Social Networks, SEO really don’t make sense at all. But Google is still trying to fix the bridge between the search engines and Social networks. If they come up with something innovative, then SEO will sound important again.

  44. Very informative article! very useful for SEO purpose.Thanks.

  45. Although I agree that social media is an important part of getting known, liked and trusted online, it is NOT a replacement for SEO. Search Engine Optimization is still the only way to get your website ranked at the top of Google’s search results.

    Personally, my job is to help local businesses develop a “web presence” and a marketing plan. This includes an RSS enabled website with Social Media integration, and a strong SEO foundation. All three of these elements are important in order to have an internet business needs to be successful online.

    This is a great article on the benefits of using social media, however it’s misleading to say that SEO is not just as important as it ever was.

  46. In my opinion social media use is part of the SEO game – to generate eyeballs on sites / products and garner links.

  47. @Anthony “I guess that’s why startups and SMB’s hire us to clean up the mess designers make.”

    The messes are made, not by designers, but by designers that think they are also developers and even more so by developers that think they are designers.
    But yes, SEO is still very relevant and will be for years yet. Kind of like computers are still relevant even though there is the iPhone.

  48. I think it’s as before. Off page SEO and site content are most important.
    I respect social networks because they are important for SEO too.

  49. Of course “SEO’ing” ones’ site still matters. Millions of people still use search engines, don’t they? It’s just that Google etc are making it harder for the folks who want to game the system.

    Yes there are other avenues of online marketing that businesses can use as well to win potential clients. There will always be more than one way to skin that cat and Cameron has given us some very good direction.

    (No cats were harmed during the writing of this post)

  50. I think Social Bookmarking and other stuff mentioned in this post are indirectly related to search engine optimization. They are giving you good backlinks and this is the most important in off page seo which you are getting free. So, In my view, what every you are doing to get more traffic is directly or indirectly related to SEO :)

  51. Thanks. very good article.

  52. they are important for SEO too.

  53. I dont know what to think of this article. I certainly agree with all of the suggestions for what people should be doing. Engaging in all of those mediums is super crucial. But I still feel that SEO is incerdibly important.

    At the end of this post Cameron says, “If a website focuses solely on providing valuable information, they’re already a step ahead when it comes to good search engine placement. Making other adjustments to further optimize your content (like good alt tags on images, etc.) only helps improve your placement even more. And people still use search engines when looking for information.” <–Agreed

    I think the title is a little extreme but the message is correct. You need to pay attention to all of this, and eventually SEO is going to be obsolete, Google is changing their algorithm every day it seems.

  54. Eh, while I can see the validity of some points made here, there is a serious lack of statistics backing up many of the claims.

    “…users are asking their Facebook friends and groups about whatever information they need”

    Obviously this isn’t everyone or Google would be out of business, so how MANY people are doing this? Is this number greater than those of search? By how much? How do these Facebook referrals convert compared to search? What sources are you using?

    The real takeaway, for me at least, is something we’ve been saying for years: SEO, SEM, Social, TV, Radio, Print, Out of Home, Direct Mail, etc are all individual parts of a much larger puzzle. To focus on one to the detriment of others is missing the big picture.

  55. Social media can to bring good trafic sometimes better than SEO

  56. I/m not totally agree,

    SEO is important because of maximum people looking their Desired site using by different search engine site.

    Social Media also getting more traffic. The result is not strong. So I think both are important.

    Indeed there are no alternative of SEO.

    Thanks for share about important topics

  57. When you do more for public instead of for you(like Mr-Matt),you become a great Human Being.The more money he receive,more he spend on open source.Keep going Mullenweg

  58. I don’t agree with the title of this article at all, however the information provided is very useful – thank you!

  59. Why do you say that seo is not important? How people will find our websites if we dont make good seo or sem? I agrre that facebook and twitter help a lot but seo is still the better way for me…

  60. I think that SEO dosnt matter because of google adwords. The PPC advertise get all the traffic and nothing rest for the SEO.

  61. Elegant, modern, very different..

  62. informative but i don’t think so without SEO you can promote your website

  63. What if you work for clients who make millions of dollars from SEO? I guess I’ll keep doing that and everyone else can focus on the Facebook.

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