Professional search engine optimizers have been engaged in this conversation for a decade now. Is SEO dead?

It depends on who you ask. Typically, the “SEO is dead” people argue that the search engines have changed their algorithms so much that attempting to rank your web pages using traditionally keyword-targeted content is a waste of time. The counterargument is usually some version of “you can overdo it, but it still works.”

At Blog Marketing Academy, David Risley has tackled the question again but in a less dogmatic way than is usual. Here’s the gist of the argument:

  • Writing for humans is much more effective
  • Real SEO will take care of itself
  • Traditional tactics like keyword density, keyword stuffing, do-follow links, and guest posting are no longer useful
  • Keywords still matter if you use them naturally
  • Engaging interactive content improves user experience, which is what you should be aiming for

I’ll encourage you to read the entire article as Risley gets into how Google judges user experience with such metrics as click-through rate, bounce rate, and time on page. It’s worth the read. For now, I’ll say I agree with his analysis about 95%.

If Keywords Matter, Is SEO Really ‘Dead’?

I think where you fall on this question depends on what you mean by SEO, or search engine optimization. There are some marketers who, like David Risley, focus entirely on content that will be helpful and useful to humans and let the SEO take care of itself. Then there are other online marketers who write content for humans and try to make it as useful as possible, but then they spend time on the back end building links to that content and tweaking on the on-page SEO factors to attempt to give that page of content a leg up in the search rankings.

Both of these approaches are valid if done with the right attitude. SEO doesn’t just “take care of itself” unless you actually target keywords that people are searching for. Then, you have to provide useful content that answer’s real questions that people have.

If your approach to SEO involves stuffing keywords into your content and counting keyword densities, that approach hasn’t worked for nearly a decade. If you’re writing guests posts solely for links, then you’re not attempting to provide value to your readers. On the other hand, if you are attempting to provide value for your readers and you optimize your guest posts well, I’d argue that’s intelligent SEO.

I don’t know that I would say that SEO is dead, but certain tactics are a waste of time. You could say they are dead.