The Death of Organic SEO (As You Know It)

The Internet Is Changing Rapidly and So is Organic SEO

Organic SEO is the practice (and discipline) of making your website attractive to search engines. When the internet was first developing in the late 1990’s, search engines were relatively new. Fortunes were created by using a few cleverly selected keywords in a website repeatedly. Yahoo was the dominate search engine and Google was in its infancy as a company. In fact, Google wasn’t far from being a research project at Stanford by a couple of students named Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

There were only a few million or so websites on the internet in 1996 and search engine optimization (SEO) was easy. Search engine optimization basically meant loading your website pages with a bunch of keywords and you would magically race to the top of search results. This meant instant success for your company (at least, in theory).

Organic SEO Alone is a Failing Strategy

In the 1990’s and early 2000’s, SEO could be your only strategy. In a few short years this was a recipe for disaster for small business. Even today, there are a few charlatans and snake oil salesmen who will call you and tell that the only thing you have to do to get rich is make it to the top of Google search engine results pages (SERPs). This could not be further from the truth. Although SEO is very important today, it cannot and should not be the only marketing strategy for your business.

Technology is Always Changing

The intent of this post isn’t to share a history of search engine optimization (SEO). My intentions are to help website owners figure out what the next step in their marketing strategies for their websites and their businesses. In my opinion, one of the biggest time (and money) wasters for small business owners is pursuing organic SEO results for immediate results.

Here are some of the biggest changes in organic SEO which may help you develop more efficient marketing strategies for your business.

1) Keywords by themselves don’t matter as much

“How can I buy Google keywords?” I actually got that question one time from an “agency owner” who wanted to buy keywords for his client. The impression was that you could buy Google keywords and have exclusivity on that keyword. This is one example of some of the misconceptions I have heard about organic SEO.

Keywords used together in a phrase matters more than that. This is now called a keyword phrase. Even using long-tail keywords is becoming old news. Long-tail keyword phrases can help with targeting more specific marketing segments. Together with other SEO strategies, long-tail keywords can help you rank higher for specific searches.

2) Artificial Intelligence Plays a Larger Role in Search Algorithms

When Yahoo was king of search (and yes, I do remember those days), all you had to do was list the same keyword over and over again on a site and it would rank. This resulted in pages and pages of gibberish on the internet that ranked well. Even if you found the page the website owner intended you to find, it was garbage.

Then Google formed a new way to search that was revolutionary. They developed an algorithm that was much more human-friendly. Keyword densities went down, and long-tailed keywords came into play over the years.

With the dawn of artificial intelligence (AI), no one is really quite sure how Google comes up with their search algorithms these days. The idea that human-created content made for humans to read is changing into AI-produced content that AI recognizes as humans want to read. This can be manipulated so the Google literally shows you what Google wants you to find. I’m not sure that this is how Google operates but the possibility certainly is there.

3) Google isn’t the only Game in Town…Again

Since Google’s dominance in the search industry began, Microsoft’s Bing and other search engines such as DuckDuckGo have been largely ignored. There is a segment of the population that questions how their private information is gathered by Google. People are increasingly going to Bing and DuckDuckGo for their search results. This represents opportunity for new business in a smaller range of search. Although these people no longer trust Google, they still have money to spend. This could represent an increase in traffic for your website in a much less crowded field.

4) Content is Still King

If you don’t have a blog, organic SEO is a waste of time for you. If you don’t consistently update your website content, do not try to play the organic SEO game. You will only waste valuable time that could be used on other aspects of digital marketing (such as email marketing). You can’t just show the world that you are an expert in your field once. In today’s crowded internet, you have to remind your prospective customers why they still need you. Having a blog on different topics that your business covers will greatly improve your search results. It also gives your website more ways that it can be found in more searches.

Covering topics that are relevant to your business helps improve your authority and makes you more of an expert in your field which can improve sales. So, if you want to sell more, write more well-planned and well-researched blog posts for your website.

5) Billions and Billions of Websites…

In the early days of the internet, there were a few million websites total. Now there are literally billions of websites, and they all want to be in the top 10 spots on their favorite search engine. Do you get the picture?

Your website doesn’t need to rank in general on search engines. That is an old “parlor trick” in my opinion. Your website needs to rank for what your potential customers are searching for. That is how you increase meaningful traffic that you can turn into revenue for your business.


Organic search engine optimization is an important part of internet marketing. However, it isn’t the “holy grail” that it has been portrayed in the past. If someone calls you and tells you that organic SEO is the “free” way to generate traffic to your website, consider the hours that go into successfully doing SEO right. In my opinion, organic SEO is a discipline that starts when you first build your website and long before you consider launching it. And the only way to learn about organic SEO is to get that site launched. Practice various techniques and methods of creating content and track your results.

Michael Neely

My name is Michael Neely. I started in graphic design and SEO in 2001 and coded my first site in 2011. Since then my career has been a constant learning experience launching my freelance business n 2014. I have worked in WordPress, Shopify, Laravel, HubSpot CMS and more. I have also kept up with SEO through the years and adapted to the mainstream use of Artificial Intelligence as the "next thing" in tech. Keep in touch and visit often to stay tuned in on what is happening in the world of technology.