Rumors of the death of SEO are greatly exaggerated. In part this is because the public at large has come to associate the term entirely with black hat SEO methods which are indeed rife throughout the industry. Many SEO agencies actively steer their clients towards black hat SEO, which is extremely detrimental to the long term well-being of their clients.
So because people have this tendency to view the SEO industry as being a black hat industry, and because black hat SEO methods are much less successful and rapidly becoming obsolete, this is what has led to the widespread belief that SEO is dead.
There actually is a whole other side to the SEO industry, which as you have probably already guessed is called “white hat SEO”, but because it is so benign, because it makes no waves, it goes largely unnoticed. This is why it hasn’t achieved much fame and why a lot of people don’t really understand it or even know that it exists.
White hat SEO is typically a slower process and requires more work from the SEO agency and content creators to be successful. This is why the majority of SEO agencies were pursuing black hat methods so vigorously and often their clients had no idea of the detrimental effects that they were accumulating, because the agencies pitched only the benefits of SEO to them, and rarely would have provided details of the methods they would use to achieve it.
Both approaches to SEO start from the same place—content—but they differ in their focus and strategy. The black hat crowds are focused more on the search engine side of the equation, while the white hat group are focused more on optimization.
The goal in both cases is to increase search ranking. White hat SEO tries to achieve this goal through a natural organic process, creating better content and getting it shared through honest methods. Black hat SEO attempts it through artificial processes. Instead of creating quality content, black hats use automated tools to scrape content from other sites and then assemble it into an approximately new article. Instead of getting the content shared by actual readers because it is good content, they create entire networks solely for the purpose of sharing content, no matter how awful that content may be.
If all this sounds something like Spy Vs Spy from Mad Magazine, that’s because it really is like that, just without the sophisticated gadgets and weapons. Until this year, the black hats were winning. But Google’s algorithms have deployed counter-measures that are proving effective in turning the tide against black hat SEO.
For you as a site owner, the important thing to understand from all this is that you do still need to make the effort to improve you search engine rank, but you need to work with a team that practices white hat SEO. If you decide not to bother with optimization at all, or if you get tempted over to the dark side, you’ll definitely have cause for regret a little later on.
SEO is not dead, it’s just undergoing a major upheaval. More sites are having to turn over a new leaf and do what they should always have been doing. The obvious path to good search engine results is to create the best content and then get noticed for it. If you follow this simple principle, you can’t really go wrong.