Last week at an outdoor cafe, I struck up a conversation with a young guy sitting across from me. He was sipping a latte with his laptop open, giving off the carefree vibe of someone who travels the world making money online. Sure enough I was right. He’d been running several e-commerce websites for years and had made Taipei his temporary home.
During our chat, he started complaining that competitors with hedge fund managers as investors were burying his business by pumping huge amounts of cash into ads. As someone who keeps my finger on the pulse of digital marketing (should we just remove the word “digital” from “digital marketing” by now?) I asked him if organic SEO is dead in 2020. He gave me a firm “yes.” It was a yes of resignation, knowing that his competitors ate him alive with their deep pockets.
Weeks later, I found myself at dinner again sitting across from a young guy who runs several sports betting blogs. I asked him the same question after recapping my story from the previous week: “Is SEO dead in 2020?” His reply was “In 2010, the everyone was saying SEO is dead, and even in 2000 people were saying SEO is dead.” He then went on to talk about a couple of new blogs he was planning to launch this summer.
So is organic SEO dead or not? It depends who you ask. Everyone is using different strategies, with different products, and putting in different amounts of hours towards SEO. So, organic SEO might be dead if you’re selling in a huge niche like T-shirts and getting the word out through your WordPress site. But what if you’re selling ozone and hydrogen water purifying systems?
I want to take a moment to redefine what SEO means in 2020. It used to mean writing a 2,000 blog word article and sprinkling your keywords evenly, like Himalayan sea salt on a steak. This version of SEO is indeed dead and buried six feet under.
What SEO looks like in 2020 is totally different. We can even interchange the word SEO with “marketing strategy”. If you want Google to find you, you’ll need more than a website. You’ll need several marketing channels pointing towards your website like a squad of fighter jets going into a dog fight. One jet will get easily overwhelmed but when you send in the squadron, you can overtake your enemy and win — with the right strategy of course.
That means deploying a website that’s optimized to be ranked on Google, a Facebook fan page, a LinkedIn account or Instagram presence, a steady flow of educational blog content, and as a bonus, a PR strategy. On top of that, you’ll need to refine your marketing and brand messaging so it resonates for a specific target audience and stirs their emotions. When these are firing on all cylinders, you’ll see Google recognize your hard work and your website will float to the top. That’s SEO in 2020.
Should we replace the word SEO with simply “marketing strategy”, and throw this overused three letters away? At minimum, we need to change the way we think about SEO. There’s over one billion blogs, or one blog published for every seven people on earth. The competition for views on your website is unimaginable. However, how many of these blogs have a marketing strategy and a razor sharp message that resonates with a specific target audience? How many of them are pumping out educational content and keeping up with social channels, while releasing new products that people want?
If this is your strategy, then you certainly have a fighting chance.