SEO is Dead: Long Live Online Marketing | Zenith 2016 LIVE Blog!

The owner of Search Influence (and disputed Locomotive Consultant), Will Scott, is all about helping customers successfully market online and building scalable solutions for local businesses and marketing teams. Having worked in the digital marketing space since ’94, he knows a thing or two about the industry. Today, he told  Zenith goers that SEO is dead. Like, what?

BUT, he explained his point. Here’s his case (spoiler alert: Will ends by stating SEO is not dead. Read on to understand):

SEO is a tactic, it’s a technique, it’s a part of the overall marketing mix. It’s just one of the many things we should be doing in support of the customers. Remember, marketing isn’t new — we’re just using new tools to carry it out.

If traditional advertising has lasted so long, Will said it’s safe to say it’s here to stay. Whether talking about SEO, social, content or SEM, it’s still important to make quality and effective information accessible to target audiences. The key is to meet them where they are. Will broke it down:

  • 75 percent of Americans use search engines on a regular basis
  • 56 percent of Americans use search engines every day
  • 40 percent of those searches are for local goods and services

However, finding customers isn’t enough. It’s also important to think like them. The goal shouldn’t be just to rank in the top 3, but to have a marketing message and ecosystem worthy of that space and users’ time.

Looking ahead, Will said to focus on user experience and classic digital marketing basics. Essentially, a healthy marketing ecosystem has to be created in order for SEO. Here’s what to know:

  • Title tags still matter! They’re your first bit of sales copy. Meta descriptions still matter too. Keep it up.
  • On-page headings. You need to include keywords in a headline, but you also need to add that extra oooomph to entice the click.
  • Include a call to action! It still helps to tell users to take action. That classic technique has not faded.
  • Make sure stuff works. Broken links just plain suck — nobody has time for that.
  • Your site must be mobile-friendly. Marketers can no longer avoid it. Forty-six percent of people admitted that they can’t live without their smart phones (Pew Research Center). No matter the age group (including those in the 50+ range), more than 80 percent of humans are using smartphones to access the internet. Plus, Google is giving prominence to sites based on their mobile friendliness.
  • Don’t forget schema! Take advantage of technical tweaks to help search engines interpret what is on a website. Make it easy for the search engines to understand what your organization is about — and make key information easily discoverable.
  • Content! Google’s Hummingbird algorithm came along and it’s now about how users perceive this world on the internet. Will preached the importance of blogging (oh, hey) for businesses and overall content strategies that lean toward the natural, rather than the rigid keyword structure. Answer the searchers’ questions. Be real.

Other Points To Consider

Will described Barnacle SEO, a phrase he coined in 2007, as, “Attaching oneself to a large fixed object and waiting for the customers to float by in the current.” Basically, if you’re a restaurant, you wouldn’t want to be excluded from Yelp, so it makes sense to optimize your Yelp presence. If the audience is there, you go there.

“When Google rewards authority, it’s really hard for a local site to have the same authority as a national authoritative site,” Will said. And that’s when Barnacle, or optimizing your organization’s presence on nationally authoritative directory sites, makes sense.

Create, Create, Create — Target, Target, Target

Content takes many forms — videos, testimonials, infographics, blogs, etc. Just remember it’s still key to pay-to-play when it comes to content exposure. Small businesses, we’re talking to you too. Will broke it down:

  • 2 million active Facebook advertisers are small businesses
  • 80 percent of Facebook’s new advertisers started by paying for promoted posts
  • Most small businesses are spending 5-50 on Facebook ads

It’s all about the audience. The possibilities go on from there through remarketing that can ultimately reduce your cost per conversions (CPCs) — all while improving conversions.

All in all, SEO is not dead. Will said that — seriously. BUT it’s important to not consider SEO to be an isolated topic. In order for businesses to truly flourish through digital marketing, quality content delivered to a target audience is still the best bet for conversions. It’s still marketing… that’s nothing new.


Thank ya, Will! It was a pleasure.

Want to follow Will on Twitter? Do it! @w2scott

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