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Is SEO Dead for Small Businesses? What Is Search Engine Optimization?

To maintain visibility in search engine results pages, all websites must implement and adhere to excellent search engine optimization best practices. Yet, every so often, you probably hear rumors like "SEO is dead." 

So, is SEO truly dying — or is it all just hearsay?

Search engine optimization has developed significantly over time. So, while SEO in itself isn’t dead, certain strategies have surely gone extinct. This blog will answer questions like "what is search engine optimization" and how you can make sure your website keeps up with the ever-evolving world of SEO to deliver the traffic and leads you need for success!

The History of SEO and Google

As you probably know, Google makes frequent changes to its algorithm, sometimes multiple times within the same year. Thus, to understand the history of SEO, let’s review the updates Google has released.

The Panda Update of 2011

In 20211, to offset the decline in search result quality, Google released an improvement known as the Panda algorithm, named after Google employee Navneet Panda. As a result, websites as a whole were impacted, not just specific pages. 

By punishing sites with high bounce rates, duplicate content across pages, and many on-site advertisements, Google Panda was the first time the search engine company weighed user metrics.

The Hummingbird Update and RankBrain Updates (2015)

Google's Hummingbird algorithm improved search results by determining the user's intent behind a query (as opposed to the individual terms within the query). It used linguistic tools, including latent semantic indexing (LSI), co-occurrence, and synonyms, to perform natural language processing (NLP).

Then, in the latter part of 2015, Google applied a component of Google's Hummingbird algorithm, RankBrain, to help with keyword ranking. The machine-learning algorithm improves Google's ability to interpret user intent and provide relevant search results. Google considers RankBrain as the third most essential ranking signal.

2019 Delivers BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers)

As a follow-up to the Hummingbird and RankBrain improvements, the BERT update enhanced Google's natural language processing technology to comprehend search intent better. Google can now interpret subtleties in on-page and query-level wording.

The Vicinity Update

Google’s Vicinity upgrade in late 2021 focused on making local search results more suitable for the user. This update helped companies deal with less competition from locations farther away in local search results.

Helpful Content Update (Late 2022)

Users' patience is wearing thin as search results rank content that doesn't answer their questions. With the latest "Helpful Content" update, Google prioritizes sites and content that deliver helpful content that keeps users in mind. 

Marketers who don't review website content with this context could see a significant drop in website traffic and leads through the end of 2022 and beyond. 

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So, Is SEO Dead (or Does It Simply Evolve)?

While Google algorithm updates can impact business websites significantly, it's not always doom and gloom with SEO evolves. We believe SEO is never truly dead; instead, small businesses must keep up with Google updates and adapt SEO tactics to outrank the competition on search result pages and maintain consistent traffic. 

Here are some ways in which SEO evolves. 

The User Always Comes First

Search engines are always looking for ways to improve the user experience through search queries. Thus they are constantly implementing new rules and upgrades to prioritize user intent and needs over tricks websites can apply to try and "trick" the algorithm and rank higher. 

As search engines evolve, they have emphasized user intent more, developing novel search engine optimization strategies and ranking variables.

It’s Not Straightforward Anymore

As SEO has progressed, the challenges it presents have increased — and it's no longer straightforward to master every best practice throughout each evolution. In addition, using any black-hat SEO strategy to achieve organic search engine rankings is almost impossible. 

On the contrary, loading times, titles, meta tags, site structure, XML sitemaps, and a lot more are all part of an SEO audit checklist that businesses should follow for the best results.

Why Prioritizing Content Is Best

So, when SEO evolves faster than you can keep it, it's time to take a step back and focus on content first. 

Many real estate companies have seen increased traffic from exceptional content marketing! Consequently, before investing in any other SEO activity, focus on creating high-quality, helpful content that delivers what users seek. Identifying and targeting keywords is crucial, but not before you create relevant and engaging content. Here’s why this is important. 

Google’s New Helpful Content Update

In its latest algorithm change, Google is cracking down on "content that looks to have been largely designed for ranking high in search engines rather than to serve or enlighten people." This tweak was made to the algorithm so that searchers can easily locate "high-quality content." Google wants to incentivize higher-quality, more helpful content produced with people (not rankings) in mind.

Showcase Yourself as an Industry Expert

People seek real estate professionals for housing and property needs, so make sure you are the professional they find when they come looking! High-quality content helps position you as the real estate industry expert in your market. This results in better customer connections, more clients, and more revenue.

Shorten Your Sales Cycle

When visitors land on your website, they might have doubts or queries before they’re willing to move forward with a purchase. Investing in well-written resources like an FAQ section or a knowledge base can shorten your sales cycle as potential customers can easily find the answer to most of their questions without even speaking to a salesperson.

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The Right Experts Have an SEO Audit Checklist to Boost Your Content

When we talk about what is search engine optimization, Google is almost always at the center of the conversation. However, keeping track and ensuring you can rank for the right keywords is not easy with Google’s constant updates. However, Geekly Media has the SEO expertise you need to keep up with evolving SEO requirements! We apply a comprehensive SEO audit checklist to keep you ahead of the game. Reach out to learn more about how we can boost your visibility online!

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