So here we go again, the SEO is dead and doesn't matter anymore conversation is heating back up. I know I shouldn't get caught up in the bullshit but I could not help myself. This conversation has been happening since the beginning of time, but for some reason it blows up every so often (usually around a major algorithm update). Search engines are constantly evolving and the rise of mobile has lead to changes in the way users discover content. In addition, off the shelf content management systems have improved from an SEO perspective. The fact is these changes make SEO more important. As long as people are trying to find things online, SEO is necessary to ensure that those searchers find you or your content, trumping your competitors. Let's look at two of the more recent anti-SEO arguments that have arisen.
Algorithms are becoming more complex
This is certainly true. Search engines are constantly evolving to improve discovery, limit spam/manipulation, and serve searchers across different devices and need states. Searches on a mobile device might mean I am looking for something within my proximity while the same search on desktop may be deemed more informational. I still get some local results on the desktop search but they are below the informational and news related results. Mobile searches are just the opposite with the local/map results at the top and the informational and news-related results below.
All the SEO you need is built into off-the-shelf CMS
Another argument against SEO is that new content management systems like Wordpress do all of the heavy lifting when it comes to SEO. While, many off-the-shelf content management systems have improved their SEO functionality there are still many potential issues that can inhibit SEO performance. One big one that I am seeing more and more with Wordpress is the growth of Parallax websites built on the Wordpress platform.
Parallax sites are designed to deliver a seamless and mobile-friendly experience, which they do. The problem is that many of them eschew a proper folder structure, which brings all of the content under one URL. Bringing all of the content into one URL limits your ability to target specific topics and keywords important for each page, limiting your ability to rank for all of the keywords that are important to your site. It also increases page weight, which lengthens page load time. Most developers, wouldn't give this a second thought. An experienced SEO expert would identify these types of issues and provide a solution while maintaining the seamless user experience.
Additionally, since more content management systems have a decent SEO framework it becomes more important to have an experienced SEO expert further optimize to differentiate your site from your competitors. If everyone starts at the same place those with more refined SEO are going to have a better chance of winning. After all, there is still an order to the search results and those on top will undoubtably win. Those that assume that their CMS will take care of it will wallow in their tears while their more savvy competitors celebrate.