Is SEO Dead? Everything You Should Know as a Content Marketer

Daniela Rivera-Herrera
Casey Horgan
Published: Dec 18, 2023
Last Updated:
Table of Contents
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With search engine advancements happening at breakneck speed, one question lingers in the minds of content marketers worldwide. Is SEO dead?

Search engine optimization has long been a staple in blog writing and content generation. Since its inception, it’s become the epitome of data-driven strategies to improve online content for search engine algorithms. With the advent of search generative experience (SGE) chatbots, however, some believe that SEO as we know it is no longer relevant.

Amidst these speculations, SEO remains widely used to enhance online visibility, drive organic traffic, and achieve higher search engine rankings. According to a 2023 survey, 50% of marketing professionals claim SEO positively impacted their work. So, despite claims of its impending demise, statistics suggest this essential resource in the content marketer's toolkit is not going anywhere anytime soon. With that in mind, let’s dive into the future scope of SEO.


You might be wondering, "Is SEO dead?" Well, let’s just say there’s no need for a eulogy just yet. SEO is still a key player in the digital marketing game. Search engine and user behavior dynamics are taking an interesting turn, though, demanding that current SEO strategies adapt accordingly.

Search engine optimization is no longer just about enhancing content for search engines. Instead, it’s become the primary avenue for improving the overall user journey — from the initial search query to the ultimate destination. You can’t solely focus on high-volume keywords to attract visitors to your site anymore. Nowadays, consistently crafting high-quality content that resonates with users throughout their entire experience is a must.

Which SEO Practices Are Now Dead and Gone?

As you can see, the question as to whether SEO is dead resounds with a clear negative answer. Still, certain SEO tactics have indeed become obsolete and are no longer effective in securing top rankings. Bidding these practices farewell is crucial to make room for some more promising ones. Here are a few bad SEO techniques you should avoid:

Stuffing To Reach a Desired Keyword Density

Cramming a web page with keywords is a clear no-go for SEO specialists seeking organic traffic. This approach might have been the holy grail of boosting rankings in the early days of search engines, but it has since been rendered ineffective and can now do more harm than good. The current emphasis revolves around crafting content that aligns with user intent rather than forcing keyword density. In other words, you must move away from the quantitative approach of keyword stuffing and instead focus on the qualitative aspect of SEO.

Keyword stuffing often renders your content unnatural and even unreadable. This practice reveals a blatant attempt to manipulate search engines rather than provide valuable information to readers. If you’re not careful, you could inadvertently decrease the chances of your content being read and shared or even deter people from visiting your website altogether. In addition, search engines could penalize your site with lower rankings or permanently remove your content from their index. 

Writing for Search Engines First and Users Second

SEO may not be dead, but writing content to please search engines before the user is. Historically, content marketers have mainly focused on tailoring content to meet the criteria of search engine algorithms. However, this is now a short-sighted strategy that can ultimately harm your website's performance and reputation through low-quality content. 

Sure, optimizing content for search engines is essential for improving visibility and attracting traffic. Yet, it should never come at the expense of providing a valuable and engaging experience for the consumer. The current SEO environment is about creating a meaningful connection with your audience, addressing their concerns, and providing valuable insights.

An effective user persona template is incredibly useful in customizing your content to the specific characteristics and behaviors of your ideal customers. This approach will help you deliver an exceptional user experience that keeps visitors rolling in. 

Black-Hat SEO Practices

Search engine optimization is still kicking, but the era of black hat SEO practices has unequivocally flatlined. It's about time you stop using shady shortcuts to control search engine rankings. These outdated tactics violate search engine guidelines and may result in unnecessary penalties. They produce spammy websites that are difficult to navigate and provide little value to users. 

Additionally, black hat SEO techniques could hinder your progress in driving clicks and organic traffic. To prevent this, you need to shift your focus to white hat SEO strategies. This approach prioritizes ethical and sustainable actions to improve website visibility.

Separate Pages for Keyword Variations and Cannibalization

Many of those asking, "Is SEO dead?" have one thing in common. They may be struggling to get the results they're used to from using the same old optimization tactics. Keyword cannibalization, for example, is one of those SEO strategies you should leave in the past. It can confuse search engines when determining which page is the most relevant for a search query. 

As a result, your pages may rank lower in search results than they would if they were the only page targeting specific SEO keywords. To ensure that the content on your pages is different enough to avoid keyword cannibalization, you must:

  • Conduct keyword research
  • Use internal linking to connect related pages
  • Regularly review your website's content to identify duplicate or near-duplicate content
  • Use a sitemap to assist search engines in navigating your website’s structure

Remember, quality over quantity is the go-to SEO mantra these days. Consolidating related content into comprehensive, well-structured pages is key to creating a seamless user experience. Ultimately, helping your visitors find all relevant information in one place is an effective strategy for elevating page authority and boosting overall rankings.

Over-Optimized Anchor Texts

Once considered a reliable ranking factor, exact match keywords have lost their luster in the current SEO landscape. While anchor texts play a role in signaling the relevance of content, an excessive focus on optimization is no longer the golden ticket to success. In fact, most of the time, it is actually detrimental to your site's SEO health.

Search engine algorithms are swiftly evolving, which has led to a shift towards more diversified anchor text approaches. To achieve optimal results and create a more organic backlink profile, you should incorporate a well-planned combination of branded, generic, and partial-match anchor texts.

Low-Quality and Unoriginal Content

Today's SEO best practices prioritize high-quality content that's engaging and unique when addressing user queries. With this in mind, you must invest time and effort in creating valuable resources that stand out in a sea of information. 

Your primary goal should be to establish experience, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (EEAT) through the materials you put out there. To enhance the quality of your site, you must always offer a fresh perspective or original insights. Differentiate your voice from your competitors, even when covering similar subjects. If you absolutely have to do the same thing they’re doing, do it better. 

Strategies Based on SEO Correlations

Monitoring competitors is a must in marketing. It can provide valuable insights into what you should or shouldn’t be doing to enhance your content. However, blindly following your competition's tactics without considering the unique context of your audience and industry is a recipe for stagnation.

Setting article lengths based on competitor practices, for example, may no longer be effective due to the change in search demand trends. That said, relying solely on SEO correlations without a deeper understanding of evolving search needs may not yield optimal results. Using keyword research tools for analyzing user behavior data can help you better identify emerging trends and user intent.

Topic Clusters Based on Keyword Relations and Not Persona Profiles

Keywords remain essential in SEO, but they are part of a broader strategy centered on delivering content that aligns with the diverse interests and concerns of your audience. Your goal should be to create comprehensive topic clusters that not only target relevant keywords but also satisfy the problem-solving aspect of organic search.

Keyword-based clustering often leads to fragmented content that lacks a cohesive narrative or topic structure. This makes it difficult for users to navigate your website and grasp the overall context of your content, negatively impacting user experience and search engine rankings. In addition, keyword-based clustering can restrict your content's scope and potential for growth.

What Are the Latest Changes SEO Has Experienced?

The future scope of search engine optimization holds exciting possibilities and challenges. Still, paying attention to the constant changes in search engine algorithms and trends is vital in the quest for organic results. Here’s what you need to know to stay ahead of the curve:

Personalization Is Now Essential

Search engines are constantly increasing their efforts to provide customized results that improve local SEO, include user interests, and consider past search history. As a result, consumers have come to expect results that are relevant to them, and they are more likely to click on those that have been curated to their interests.

Understanding your audience at a granular level is the new norm. The era of one-size-fits-all SEO is fading, making room for a landscape where personalization is not just a strategy but a necessity. This shift emphasizes the importance of psychology in digital marketing. Crafting content tailored to a specific user persona will help you align your strategies with what your potential customers care about and discuss.

UX-Driven SEO Will Be the Future

User experience (UX) is emerging as a central player in the future of SEO. Beyond keywords, search engines are increasingly prioritizing sites with SEO-friendly web design that enhances the user's journey. Consequently, the need for websites to be both visually appealing and functionally efficient has become obvious.

Key UX signals considered by Google for content ranking include page speed, mobile-friendliness, content quality, and user engagement. Additionally, factors like website layout and ease of navigation are also taken into account. This means that a smooth and effortless journey from the initial query to the final interaction is essential for securing a favorable position in search engine result pages.

Search Intent Is Key To Rank

Search engines strive to provide their users with value through top-ranking results. The best way to do that is to understand what the user is actually looking for when they enter a search query. There are four top types of search intent:

  • Navigational: The user is looking for a particular website or page.
  • Informational: The user is looking for insights into a specific topic.
  • Commercial: The user is researching products or services before buying something.
  • Transactional: The user is looking to make a purchase or take another action.

Optimize your content for the search intent that you are targeting through E-E-A-T-focused techniques. For example, if you're targeting informational intent, make sure that your content is well-written, up-to-date, and informative. If, on the other hand, you're targeting transactional intent, make sure that the content is clear, concise, and persuasive.

Content Quality and First-Hand Experience Take Central Stage

Recent updates in Google's algorithms have signaled a paradigm shift in the future of search marketing. Quality now triumphs over quantity, and the latest "helpful content" can speak to that. This relatively new algorithm change aims to prioritize content that is genuinely informative and people-centric rather than sites primarily designed to rank well in SERPs.

One of the best ways to ensure that your content fulfills these expectations is to get feedback from subject matter experts (SMEs). That’s why SME reviews have become a game changer in elevating content quality. They provide valuable feedback on your content, making sure that it is accurate, robust, up-to-date, and relevant to your target audience.

AI and Machine Learning Shape the New Landscape

The ongoing “Is SEO dead?” conversation has gained traction in the wake of AI and ML advancements. More and more individuals and organizations these days are taking advantage of generative AI to write compelling blog posts that neatly adhere to SEO best practices. However, even when it may help streamline content creation, the introduction of artificial intelligence in SEO is bound to present both predicaments and opportunities for content marketers.

Beyond automating repetitive tasks, these technologies are reshaping content strategy by identifying and addressing user queries in a quick and mostly factual way. Thanks to this, brands and users can now leverage SGE tools, transforming SEO into a middle or bottom-of-funnel channel. Still, AI cannot yet replace the nuanced understanding that comes from addressing specific problems in a comprehensive manner. Thus, the role of content marketers and creators is now to strike a balance between the efficiency of AI and the depth of human understanding to provide users with valuable, meaningful, and accurate content.

Featured Snippets Can No Longer Be an Afterthought

Securing a spot in Google fetured snippets not only boosts visibility. It also enhances credibility as an authoritative source. With search engines increasingly relying on featured snippets to provide quick answers to user queries, you must strategically structure your content to capture these prime positions. Understanding the details behind featured snippet generation and optimizing your content accordingly is now a prerequisite for a successful SEO plan. 

The Cornerstones of the New Experience-Based SEO Strategy

In the past, the search engine optimization industry focused primarily on identifying and targeting high-volume keywords to drive traffic to a website. These days, with the evolution of search algorithms and consumer expectations, SEO places more weight on user experience and comprehensive content strategies. This includes showcasing how your brand addresses real-world problems through case studies and blog posts that highlight customer experiences.

The SEO future seeks to guide users through a consistent and informative journey, no matter if they start on Google reviews, social media posts, or directly on the website. By fostering trust and credibility through a solid, user-centric SEO approach, you can encourage users to interact with your brand and ultimately take the desired action — whether it's a purchase, a demo, or another conversion.

The rise of platforms like Reddit and Quora reflects this growing demand for authentic and relatable content. Users crave real-life experiences and insights from other individuals, not just AI-generated content. That’s why review sites, social media profiles, and shared experiences are gaining popularity in helping users make informed decisions.

So, is SEO dead? No, but it needs to keep up with these experience-based tactics if it wants to lead a long life. Ultimately, effective SEO comes down to listening and responding to the needs and expectations of the target audience. If you offer SEO services, you might want to emphasize a holistic approach to digital marketing or incorporate terms like "search user experience" to highlight a broader focus beyond traditional SEO.

Get the Complete Lay of the Land in Our “RIP to SEO?” Webinar

As algorithms become more sophisticated, embracing a forward-thinking approach becomes imperative for marketers. The future of SEO lies in adapting to the latest trends, focusing on personalized experiences, prioritizing user intent, and embracing the transformative power of AI. Want deeper SEO insights? Listen to our on-demand "Rip to SEO?" webinar with Kelly Ayers, SEO Digital Director at Jordan Digital Marketing. You'll get an in-depth explanation of the future of SEO and will come away with the right tools to navigate the intricacies of SEO in the upcoming years. Don’t miss out!


How can businesses integrate AI with SEO strategies without losing the human touch in content?

You can leverage AI tools to enhance your SEO strategy by using them for data analysis, trend prediction, and automation of repetitive tasks (like writing meta descritpions), while ensuring the content itself maintains authenticity, creativity, and an emotional connection with the audience.

What are the key metrics to track to evaluate the success of SEO strategies?

It can depend on who's asking (just kidding), but some common key metrics to evaluate SEO success include organic search traffic, CTRs, dwell time, bounce rate, conversion rate, keyword rankings, and the quality of backlinks.

How has the role of keywords in SEO evolved with the rise of semantic search and intent-based algorithms?

Algorithms understand both the context and intent behind searches. Your SEO content should focus on semantic search, prioritizing content that comprehensively addresses your user's intent and entire search journey, rather than just including exact keyword phrases.

In the context of SEO's evolution, how important is it for marketers to focus on voice search optimization?

People talk, and that includes your customers. With the increasing use of voice search, it’s crucial to optimize for conversational queries, targeting long-tail keywords and question-based phrases that reflect how people speak in real life.

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