If you own or manage a business with a web presence, you’ve probably heard of SEO – search engine optimization. Simply put, SEO experts use protocols set up by search engines like Google® and Bing™ to improve a website’s ranking on their search results pages.

Even if you sell the best products or deliver the best services, if your website is buried on page 85 in Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs), not many people will find it. Most search engine users don’t look past the first few pages of results.

SEO is a set of tactics to improve the page rank of a website so it appears on page one or two of SERPs, generating more organic traffic, i.e., website traffic that lands on your home page using one of the search engines like Google, Yahoo!® and Bing.

However, there are signs that SEO is losing value as a marketing technique. Search engines use complex mathematical algorithms to rank websites, and as these formulas have become more sophisticated, the “tricks” used by unscrupulous search engine optimization specialists have become much less effective.

Why? The purpose of Google, Yahoo, Bing, Ask®, and other search engines is to deliver the most relevant search results based on the keywords visitors enter into the search box. Their “spiders” crawl websites to determine what each site is about, and how useful it will be to a search engine user who enters specific keywords.

SEO experts research popular keywords using tools like the Google keyword generator, which shows actual keywords entered by Google users in the past. Then they attempt to include relevant keywords as part of their website content.  However, they may also look for more creative ways to fool the search engine “spiders.”

Pandas, Penguins and Hummingbirds

Search engine creators and search engine optimizers have always been at odds. In the early days of search engines, those in the business of improving the page rank of a site started to use keyword stuffing, redirects, fake keywords and other tactics to rank higher on SERPs.

In response, SEO developers changed their algorithms to prevent “cooking” the numbers. Soon, SEO experts would find another way to improve page rank. Unfortunately, many of these tactics were deceptive and diminished the value of Google SERPs. If you’re looking for pet supplies and click on a Google link that takes you to a car dealership, you may not use that search engine again because the results it delivers aren’t helpful.

In the past few years, Google has introduced new and improved algorithms to make it much harder for SEO experts to take advantage of search engines. These algorithms include Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird. We can expect new and improved algorithms in the future – algorithms that are more intuitive and helpful in delivering the right SERPs for your Internet search.

Why SEO Is on the Way Out

Search engine users want information fast: product availability, a customer service telephone number, or directions to the store. They don’t want to be spammed, hyped, or sold a bill of goods, and it’s the job of Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines to make sure users find the right information quickly.

This has required changes in the design of websites and the text that appears on each page of a website. Why? Because if you, as a business owner, are caught using unethical tactics, your website can be penalized and even banned from search engines. If you have an online business, this may actually put you out of business. If you don’t show up in the first few pages of SERPs, or if your website doesn’t show up at all, your business may be finished.

Here are some negative factors that are likely to get you into trouble with search engines and push your ranking far down the page:

  • Too many keywords in a short body of text
  • Poorly written, spammy content (people want good information)
  • Duplicate content (content that appears on numerous websites)
  • Any kind of trickery, e.g., redirects to another page or website

Give Search Engine Users Want They Want: Help, Not Hype

The bottom line? SEO isn’t completely dead, but it sure has changed. Today’s search algorithms are sophisticated and recognize spammy content when they see it.

Your website content and structure should be helpful, transparent, and further the search of site visitors. If you’ve seen your website sink like a stone in SERPs’ rankings, it’s time to get relevant and helpful to site visitors. Improved page rank should follow in short order.


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.