Is SEO Dead?

By Kai Davis • Get a weekly letter on Shopify Marketing for Shopify Store Owners →


A few months ago, I had a conversation with a client who was convinced that SEO was dead:

  • They had set up a site for a new brand they were launching
  • They had invested in an on-site SEO optimization package to get their on-site SEO dialed in
  • And they waited for their rankings to increase
  • When they didn’t increase, they bought a link building package from another consultant and waited

And…

Nothing.

Their rankings hadn’t moved an inch. They were buried on Page 5 for their primary keyword.


When we got on the phone, they had one question: if on-site Search Engine Optimization is dead and Link Building doesn’t work anymore, what’s an eCommerce store supposed to do to get more traffic?

The short of it is that SEO isn’t dead. Changed and evolved, sure, but not dead.

The days of SEO trickery are slowly (and thankfully!) fading away. Sure, there’s some ways of gaming the system, but it’s not like it has been in the past.

When it comes to eCommerce SEO, you can’t just do a bit of on-site optimization and then throw some links at your site and expect results. There are so many factors that are relevant: the age of your site, how entrenched your competitors are, your on-site optimization, and the quality and relevance of the sites linking to you.

If you’re thinking about launching a new online store and you want to know if you should invest in Search Engine Optimization, I can assure you: Search Engine Optimization is alive and
kicking.

What’s different about SEO now as compared to Search Engine Optimization two years ago is the need to focus on strategies that help you attract high-quality links by improving your visitors’ experience.

When it comes to getting more traffic, you need links from high-quality, relevant websites. And the best way to attract high-quality, relevant links is be aiming to make yourself more relevant and helpful to searchers.

Unfortunately, the conversation often focuses on ‘link building’, when it should focus on ‘how to delight visitors’ or ‘how to build a better business.’

When you get started improving the quality and relevance of your website, you’ll attract more links. If you’re creating educational, relevant content on your site — articles, resources, how-to guides, courses, tutorials, case studies, etc — that add value to your visitors’ lives, you’ll see more links, more traffic, and more sales.

But! It can take much, much longer to see results now than it used to. Depending on how optimized your site is and how invested in SEO your competitors are, it can take months to see your site slowly, incrementally creep up in the rankings.

You can do all of the on-site optimization you want, but that alone won’t get you ranking.

Sure — the dream of adding a new product to your site and then skyrocketing to the top of Page 1 can happen, but to get there takes years of slow, incremental, ongoing work.

I can’t tell you the number of high-quality, well-optimized eCommerce stores I’ve audited that have amazing products, beautiful photos, and an excellent staff managing the business — but they have absolutely no links — and they can’t understand why they’re unable to get ranking or attract traffic.

A lot of the fear, doubt, and uncertainty around the value of SEO comes from expecting it to be an easy fix for a business. But that mindset results in people applying a minimum level of effort and not seeing any results.

SEO isn’t dead. It just takes time and work.

If you focus on building a better business by improving your visitors’ experience, you’ll naturally attract and earn more links. On top of that, building a better business is a more interesting problem to solve.

Sure, you can talk about strategies to help you earn 10 more links to your site, but isn’t it better to ask “How do we create a resource that’s valuable for our customers?”

If you want to attract more links and traffic to your website, you have to ask yourself “Why do the people I’m trying to reach care about what I’m selling?” Or “Why do I deserve to earn their attention?”


Did you enjoy reading this article?

You should read “Getting Started With Linkable Assets” next.