Published on April 10, 2018

Over the years, there have been many proclamations that SEO is dead. Too many to count. Every time there’s a big Google update, every time they push more ads onto the page, there’s a rush of articles announcing SEO’s death. 

The last few months have seen a lot of changes from the largest search engine and there has been a lot of discussion about whether SEO is dying, for real this time. So what’s driving the chatter?

“Native” Content Taking Over the Results

One of the main concerns many people have is that Google has been pushing more of their own content onto the searches, often answering user’s questions without even requiring a click. But this isn’t new.

Since launching the knowledge graph in 2012, Google has been growing its search features. Expanded search features have answers to medical questions, calculations, movie trivia, game scores, maps, reviews and so much more. Some of this content is extracted from content on other websites, and other content is provided via data and content partners.

Search Pages with Zero Results

The latest offender is a search without any results. These results are rare, but show for some simple searches like asking what time it is, temperature conversions and calculations. Instead of an answer box followed by the traditional organic links, Google shows the answer box alone. The only link on the page was a button that read “show all results.” For now these pages are rare, but an indication of what’s to come nonetheless. Screen Shot 2018-04-10 at 12.11.48 PM

Why is Google Doing This?

It’s possible that the search giant is just wants to keep more users inside the platform, which is beneficial for their bottom line. But beyond just money, why would they make these changes?

First, it’s important to note that while changes we’re seeing today are new, the ever-changing nature of search isn’t. Search has been in a constant state of change since Google hit the scene. While the search giant still owns 78% of global search traffic, their market share is declining as users search in a variety of places: App stores, YouTube, Pinterest, Amazon (who owns about 49% of product searches in the U.S.) are just a few.

To keep up with user expectations of better and faster experiences, Google has to adapt.

Searches in a Mobile World

One possible reason for the latest changes is that Google is trying to better serve mobile. For mobile users, seeing quick answers while on the go could lead to better and faster experiences. And when Google provides great experiences to their users, they’re more likely to keep coming back instead of trying out another search engine. They’ve already displayed their focus on mobile through prioritizing speed, developing their AMP formats, and by switching to a mobile first index; this means they won’t show results from any websites that aren’t optimized for mobile.

Screenless Results with Voice Search

Another possibility is they’re making changes to improve voice search experience. Voice assistants have changed the way we phrase our queries, and they’ve dramatically changed the way results are returned without a screen. A typical voice search will give you only one result (at least at first) which is read to you. So it’s possible that Google is testing their cards, and zero-result pages, as a way to improve their voice search experience.

Is SEO dying?

Maybe Google search isn’t the way it was 10 years ago, when it was easier to manipulate the algorithm and get to the number one result. But users and their search behavior have also evolved. What we are witnessing could just be an effort to adapt to new behaviors and technologies, rather than death.

As long as people are searching for things, SEO will never die.

Juanita Galindo

Juanita GalindoContent & SEO Planner - M8

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