The Google “Hummingbird” algorithm update has effectively killed “exact keyword matching” used as a past SEO tactic. This was also propagated by algorithm updates such as “Panda” and “Penguin” in 2013-2014 which in addition have directly dealt with techniques used to “game” or influence the system of search.
The effect of this has been a influx of articles proclaiming “SEO is Dead” much to the confusion of marketers. This usage is actually somewhat both sarcastic/metaphorical and part literal. The translation of that phrase has been translated as a “direction for SEO’s or companies utilizing SEO techniques to change their methods and ways of thinking to accommodate the NEW changes that the search engines have implemented”.
This effectively kills past simpler methods used which relied on “keyword-only” content, keyword-specific micro sites (called TLD or Top Level Domains ), excessive anchor text linking, link-buying, and/or content farms used to gain leverage for a search queries.
The article title “SEO is Dead” also refers to the virtual killing off of massive amounts of SEO agencies (in theory) who relied on “old tactics” to leverage sites and pages (thin content) in the search engine results. Further harm to these methods was the announcement of Google Analytics application change which now effectively hides most keywords (post page clicks) from the analytics results. This data was previously available prior to 2013-2014. Though the data was a key factor in demonstrating to companies how effective certain keywords phrases were in bringing traffic to a web site. The data for this has been “hidden” due to privacy issues Google has supported. New SEO solutions for this issue are commented here.
Other articles refer to the use of the acronym SEO claiming that the meaning which stood for “Search Engine Optimization” has been upgraded to now mean “Search Experience Optimization“. Whether that actually sticks is another matter.
An age old concept “Content is King” has been resurrected with 90% of marketers looking to leverage “value content” to influence the search engines. Google now uses semantics as part of its value determination into determining if a page deserves higher ranking.
How does this translate?
A page that wants to rank for the term “population health management” will have a much harder time ranking if the page contains “only” keywords and no value content to support it.
The truth is, “SEO is timeless” when done correctly in promoting your site as an authority for its niche and communicating to users. SEO has many components which include architecture, indexing, page crawling, usability, social signals, search engine compatibility issues, page management and so on that are part of the SEO foundation. These all contribute to building, creating, and providing what is called a “healthy site“. While “gamey” quick tactics are becoming a thing of the past, businesses still need to be alert and pro-active with healthy SEO in order to stay ahead of the game.
The methods, mind set and skill sets may change and grow over time completely reinventing the model of SEO used back in 2011 and past years. This establishes SEO as a “moving target” discipline that evolves every year.