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Is SEO Dead? The State of SEO in 2021

frozen river with snowy mountains and pine trees


The short answer is no SEO is not dead. As long as search engines exist, websites will optimize their content and compete for rankings. Internet traffic continues to increase and search engines are a crucial tool in navigating, finding information, and shopping. That’s not going to change anytime soon.

Yes, Old-Fashioned SEO Tactics Are Dead

While SEO itself isn’t dead the antiquated techniques of the past certainly are. If you think SEO is dead you’re probably thinking about the early days of SEO where you could get away with keyword stuffing, creating a different webpage for each keyword variant, including the exact keyword in your link’s anchor text, buying backlinks, engaging in reciprocal linking schemes or other questionable SEO practices. 

No, you can’t get away with gaming the system anymore. If you have figured out a “hack” that gets you to the top of search results then Google is probably going to release an algorithm update tomorrow that will send you back to the bottom of the results.  Any questionable SEO tactic you employ today will most likely be punished as a black hat SEO tactic tomorrow.

What’s The Difference Between Modern SEO and Old-Fashioned SEO?

The main difference between SEO of the past and SEO employed today is who we’re doing SEO for. In the past, SEO was done to appease robots and algorithms. Less sophisticated technology was easier to manipulate because it looked at fewer factors and had a worse understanding of context and semantics. You had to pander to robots and the algorithm if you wanted to make any gains.

Today SEO is done for humans. Modern search engine algorithms are incredibly complex with over 200 known ranking factors in the Google algorithm with probably many more that we don’t know about. Additionally, artificial intelligence and advances in computing power have made search engines very good at what they do and hard to manipulate. Now Google is very good at giving you the search result that you want. This means that we have to create content that fulfills the need of the search intent and we have to do it better than everyone else. 

The gap between what people want and what the search engine returns is only getting smaller and smaller. If you aren’t giving the people what they want then you’re not going to have any success in SEO. Modern SEO is all about putting the user first, creating high-quality content, and providing value so people know they can trust your brand.

Is It Still Worthwhile to Invest in SEO?

The internet is the main way that people find products and services. That trend isn’t going to reverse anytime soon. If you want your business to be successful then you need to compete for traffic from search engines. SEO and content marketing helps you build assets in the form of webpages that consistently put new eyes on your brand and feeds people through the conversion funnel that you have set up. 

If you want to reach a national or global market, the internet is still the best way to reach and engage with people across the globe. If you are a local business the internet is still the best way to engage with your community. In most cases, SEO is definitely worth your time and efforts.