Organisations abandoning effective marketing practice at the expense of search engine optimisation tactics are doing themselves a distinct disservice. As search engines and social media businesses create increasingly complex algorithms to combat SEO practitioners who are seeking to leverage search parameters, it becomes apparent the SEO landscape has changed.

With businesses such as Google and Facebook now being held accountable for ad revenue generated, it’s in their best interests to ensure that SEO as a standalone tool becomes more and more ineffective, and encourage marketers to use payment based tools such as Google ads. But this is only half the picture, as businesses become more insistent that their online strategy offers more than simply an exercise in branding. With measurement tools becoming more effective, marketers and business owners can present a clear overall picture as to the effectiveness, or lack thereof, of a particular campaign. Where SEO is relatively esoteric, reliant on overall positioning rather than actual calls or sales generated, paid advertising and outbound campaigns can be analysed down to the minute, and adjusted instantly.

Outbound email campaigns are also continuing to grow in popularity and effectiveness. Still the most popular medium of communication outside of talking, email, through the likes of MailChimp is now a highly measurable, adaptable and effective method of engagement. In fact, MailChimp now holds itself accountable for sales, with “revenue generated,” appearing as a key measure in each of it’s campaign reports.

So based on the strength of outbound, where to now for search engine optimisation? Many marketers still believe in SEO as a cornerstone of effective online marketing, however the cards are stacked against it’s continued – or even current – effectiveness. The question must be asked, whether the practice has now become simply one of good marketing of a now obsolete product, and if the focus should now be permanently moved to effective and tangible outbound initiatives.

In certain industries, that move came long ago. In the legal industry for example, a client’s journey to purchase very rarely involves taking the top result in Google, and likewise, in referral heavy businesses such as accounting and health. It should also be noted, that hijack marketing in the form of prioritised Google advertising means that the competition can simply steal good SEO results. In all, using current evidence, and until new initiatives are inevitably created, search engine optimisation as a standalone tool offers few, if any significant benefits.

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