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Since its inception, SEO has faced criticism and pessimism. But lately, the voices that SEO is on its last legs, or that the trend is finally fading, are getting stronger. People in and out of the SEO community are making bold predictions that within this decade, the entire industry could collapse.
Is there any truth in these guesses? Is SEO starting to weaken in terms of strength or profitability, and if so, is there anything we can do about it in the SEO field?
Threats to the SEO Industry
There are some major threats to the search engine industry on the table. Indeed, SEO is not a perfect strategy. There is no guarantee that it will generate traffic for you or become profitable, it can be difficult to implement, and even if you do everything right, it can take months or even years before you start seeing the results you want.
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Add to that the series of threats facing our industry:
- Live applications and services. Why bother searching for something on Google when you can simply view product recommendations on your Amazon app? Why look for a ride-hailing service when you can only rely on Uber? The truth is that live apps and services eliminate some of the traditional search traffic. However, these live apps and services can present new opportunities. Most apps like this still allow users to search for specific products or specific needs, and if there is a search algorithm in place, there is a way to take advantage of it.
- Social media. Similarly, people turn to social media for news and information. Organic traffic and searches are affected because of it. However, most people involved in search engine optimization also have a social media strategy of some sort, allowing them to benefit from both fronts.
- digital assistants. Digital assistants, rich snippets, and other search improvements make search optimization more difficult. Users are sometimes given answers directly, rather than being redirected to a specific piece of content on the web. The algorithms used by digital assistants are more opaque and difficult to analyze.
- DIY improvement tools. Thanks to the proliferation of online content about SEO, the power of built-in SEO tools for website builders and other factors, self-improvement is becoming more accessible and a more popular option. While this doesn’t disqualify SEO as a strategy, it could potentially disqualify it as a career choice.
- Smarter algorithms. Google and other search engines are constantly updating themselves to provide users with high-quality results with greater consistency. But there are some downsides here for search optimizers; Namely, it is getting more and more difficult to write the best content and build the best links for the algorithm in its modern state. So SEO keeps getting more accurate, time consuming and more expensive.
SEO budgets and spending
If the SEO industry is dying, business owners haven’t received the news yet. SEO spending has increased historically, year after year, for as long as SEO has been around. The past few years have been no different, and surveys of business owners indicate that their optimism about SEO has not faded. You can make the argument that it will take a few years before public perception catches up with reality, but the markets are currently suggesting that the SEO phenomenon is not going away anytime soon.
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Reasons for optimism
There are additional reasons for optimism in the SEO industry.
- Constant Google updates. Despite pouring money into apps, smarter algorithms, digital assistants, and other technologies, Google is still constantly updating its core search algorithm. Google itself believes that traditional online search will be around for a long time – and the company continues to improve its service offerings to its users.
- search spread. Traditional search is still used billions of times daily and remains the dominant method for finding information online. For as long as people continue to use search engines, search engine optimization will remain a convenient and effective way to persuade and direct them.
- New fans. There are currently 4.66 billion internet users globally, and this number is increasing every year as internet connections bring more and more people together around the world. Even if the power of traditional search engines begins to wane, the increase in potential new target audiences can make up for this gap.
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There is one last important consideration: Industrial transformations tend to be slow, even in the face of radical new technologies. If search engines and user behaviors change, search optimization experts will have plenty of time to study and adapt to those changes. The SEO of tomorrow may not look like today, but search marketers will inevitably find a path forward to serve customers and generate revenue with similar methods.
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