SEO is NOT dead

SEO Avanzado - Cover“SEO is dead,” Ismael el-Qudsi provocatively wrote back in 2005. Fifteen years later, the demand for SEO specialists is three times that of social media managers (Community Managers). According to several searches conducted throughout the summer of 2019, job offers related to the term “Community Manager” on Infojobs Spain represented approximately one third of the results obtained for the term “SEO” on this same platform.

The offer of masters, seminars and training programs has grown exponentially and numerous events are held in different cities in Spain related to search engine marketing, with great success of attendees.

Another indicator of the good health of SEO as a marketing strategy with a promising future is reflected in the growing number of companies that have bet in recent years on the development of analysis and optimization tools oriented to Web positioning. In some cases, with high investments behind them. (The SEMrush tool, based in St. Petersburg (Russia), for example, attracted a $40 million investment from the investment firms Greycroft, Siguler Guff, and in 2018 ( From 2007 to 2016, the Moz company, founded by SEO visionary Rand Fishkin and his mother Gillian Muessig, received nearly $30 million through three rounds of funding ( to develop a series of SEO tools that eventually converged into the Moz Pro analytics and optimization suite).

The SEO boom has a very simple explanation: Google is the overwhelming leader in Internet access in Spain. It is the home page in most browsers and the search engine used by 96% of users ( Ninety percent of Spanish cell phones are Android (Google’s operating system) according to Kantar Media ( and 59% of users use the Chrome browser to browse the Internet (

And although the Click Through Ratio (CTR) of organic results has declined, visits attracted by search engines remain:

  • Quality traffic: these are visitors who are looking for ways to satisfy a need. Search engines give us the opportunity to present our offer at the right time and in a non-intrusive way.
  • With a higher conversion rate: it is our visitors who are looking for us. If our offer is adapted to your needs, the sale is easier.
  • With a lower acquisition cost than the rest of digital marketing strategies: although positioning yourself well also implies dedicating resources, capturing a new customer is comparatively cheaper when you are found in a search engine.

The interest in being among the first results of the search engines, therefore, is still fully in force, as well as the demand for professionals specialized in achieving this objective.

SEO is changing faster and faster

Thirteen and eight years separate, respectively, the publication of this volume from the release of Posicionamiento en buscadores, one of the first books on SEO in Spanish, and Técnicas avanzadas de posicionamiento en buscadores. And although many of the basic concepts of Web positioning are still fully in force, others have evolved significantly and new factors have also appeared that we could not even glimpse ten years ago.

Many of the changes have to do with the evolution of Google as a search engine. The classic on page and off page relevance factors have been joined by new ones, such as those related to search context, user behavior, the identification of search intent underlying groups of keywords, as well as the incorporation of machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Although several Google officials have explained that they conduct hundreds of tests and experiments every year, their algorithm incorporates major updates at an increasing pace compared to years ago. While some of them have official documentation, many others are only detected after changes are noted in their own results.

But Google is not the only one responsible for these changes. We users have also evolved. The use of the smartphone as the preferred device for accessing the Internet has not only affected the CTR of organic results. Factors such as download speed, usability or geolocation have also gained weight in the relevance calculation.

In this scenario of vertiginous evolution, SEO professionals are forced to constantly update their knowledge. Keeping up to date with the latest guidelines, recommendations, studies or experiments has become a real challenge.

Google is our ally… but also our competitor…

From a mere search engine and traffic distributor, Google has become a true ecosystem of global services where it prefers to keep us confined. According to some studies*, it is able to satisfy a much higher number of queries directly from its search results than a few years ago. For example: the steps or ingredients of a recipe, how to get to a particular place, what the weather is going to be like, the zip code of a particular address, the definition of a concept, price comparison of a product, or flights to a destination, among many others (Rand Fishkin published in June 2019 this study (, whose conclusions state that almost 50% of the searches analyzed ended without the user clicking on one of the results displayed. Only 41.45% of searches registered a click, but 12% of these led the user to other Google content).

Google has thus become that awkward friend. We need it to achieve quality traffic and, at the same time, we must be alert to any possibility of it cannibalizing our traffic. It asks us to apply structured data markup to better understand our content, but leverages it to extract valuable information and present it aggregated in its own results. On many occasions, leaving users with no reason to visit the original site from which the content originated.

If we already referred to SEO more as an art than a science (The Art of SEO, by Eric Enge, Stephan Spencer and Jessie Stricchiola, published in 2015, is one of the most popular books on Web positioning), now it also has the added risk of the search engine itself becoming our worst competitor.

What you will find in this book

I face for the third time the challenge of capturing in a handful of pages my vision of SEO and once again I set myself the ambitious goal of satisfying both the reader who wishes to enter for the first time in the intricate intricacies of search engine optimization and the reader who, satisfied by a previous reading, once again places his trust in this humble author to update knowledge or contrast experiences. I must confess that the experience accumulated in almost twenty years of work, dozens of publications and hundreds of presentations, courses and lectures does not help me feel more secure or confident in facing this challenge. On the contrary: I am burdened with the responsibility of meeting the expectations of those who will spend their time and money to read the following lines. But since there is no other way to find out if I will achieve my goal than to try, let’s proceed.

A logical work methodology backed by 20 years of experience

Is it worth investing time and resources in leading Google results? What is the current role of search engine marketing in the set of strategies to promote and monetize our online presence? Answering these questions is the task of the first chapter. But let me tell you now that yes: leading the results for our business searches is still a good and profitable decision. Search engine marketing continues to play an essential and basic role in the rest of the digital marketing strategies. To find out why, you’ll have to wait to read it.

SEO is based on the knowledge of two main actors: the operation of the search engine itself, on the one hand, and the behavior of those who resort to it to solve their needs. The challenge of chapter 2 is to explain in a simple way something as complex as how a search engine works, its peculiarities, requirements, limitations and evolution.

In the third chapter we examine the profile of our target audience. How we define the target of a Website and analyze its purchase decision process or customer journey. The customer starts, as my namesake and WordPress expert Fernando Tellado so gracefully says, a journey from when they first feel a need until they make a purchase decision to satisfy it.

Throughout this journey, the potential customer goes through different micro-moments: he clarifies his doubts, seeks opinions, evaluates different alternatives and finds arguments that support and motivate his purchase decision, as well as counterarguments that neutralize any potential objection. Each micro-moment is characterized by a specific search intent: the user will want information, find a physical establishment to visit in person, find a website, perform an action…

These micro-moments are grouped into different phases of the buying process. They are usually represented as a funnel, given the way in which the number of potential customers decreases from the beginning of the process to conversion.

Our protagonists in chapters 2 and 3, search engines and people, interact using words. Users express their needs through searches that we call keywords. From these, we expect search engines to understand our intent and present results that meet our need. Chapter 4 is therefore devoted to keyword analysis, how to identify which keywords are used by our potential customers, what content we should include on our Website and how it should be structured.

Identifying the different search intentions and related keywords is the basis of an information architecture aligned with both SEO, usability and conversion. The design of a new Website is the optimal time to take advantage of this knowledge to ensure optimal positioning in the long term.

However, we will not always be so fortunate. SEO work is most often applied on already published sites that can be adapted to a greater or lesser extent to the above-mentioned peculiarities, requirements and limitations of search engines. The SEO audit consists of a battery of tests that reveal the shortcomings of a Website from the perspective of a search engine. Factors such as download speed, duplicate content or poor interlinking have a very negative effect on positioning. Chapter 5 shows how to perform a comprehensive audit of the main factors related to good positioning.

It is an excellent starting point for diagnosing the work scenario and drawing up a strategic improvement plan: does this Website have an indexability problem, does it have duplicate content, hidden content, poor architecture, does it need more content, more or better links, etc.? Identifying improvement opportunities, prioritizing them appropriately, establishing who is responsible for each task, planning their execution and establishing control indicators are the points discussed in chapter 6.

And since we already know what to do, we could roll up our sleeves straight away and get down to it with dedication and enthusiasm. So much so that we would lose control of the hours spent. Fortunately, we have numerous analysis, control, validation and measurement tools at our disposal to invest our time wisely. Although the number of tools is enormous, in chapter 7 we recommend and show how to use the ones we consider absolutely essential for SEO work. We will have to spend some time initially to become familiar with them and even money to subscribe to some of them. But all of the ones shown save much more than they cost and many are totally free.

Now it is. Armed with our knowledge of the target, positioning objectives, scenario diagnosis and powerful tools, we are in a position to attack the optimization of the Website. Chapter 8 shows how to improve the indexability of a Website. That is, how to ensure that it is in optimal conditions to be crawled and indexed by search engines. We are essentially referring to technical optimization.

Now it is. Armed with our knowledge of the target, positioning objectives, scenario diagnosis and powerful tools, we are in a position to attack the optimization of the Website. Chapter 8 focuses on improving the relevance of digital assets. We will squeeze all the possibilities to take advantage of the available content to align it with the visibility objectives we have set. Which page should display the search engine for this search? How can we improve it to better meet the need of the user who might visit it? How does our content compare with that of other competitors better positioned for that search? The wording of the text or copy is important but also technical aspects such as the use of semantic HTML tags or structured data markup.

There are times when, even with quality contents, they are not properly positioned due to the way the Website is structured. Chapter 9 focuses on information architecture. Something much easier to design well from the beginning than to change it when the site has already been published. We will recommend measures to improve in both scenarios.

The visibility potential of a properly optimized Website is often limited by its own content. Often, a competitor that devotes more resources to generating quality content will rank above sites that do not. Keyword analysis is an excellent guideline to develop new content oriented to cover all our visibility objectives. Chapter 10 shows our Just in time content strategy to increase the visibility of a Website.

Content is also one of the main sources of link attraction. If, in addition to generating content oriented to positioning for certain searches, we create pieces that can be shared by users, we will be aligning our on page optimization strategy with the off page optimization strategy. Chapter 11 will show this and other ways to get links without angering the penguins.

Chapters 3 to 11 show, as we have explained, the basic work methodology that we apply in our regular SEO consulting work at Human Level Communications. All our consultants share this same methodology and adapt it to the specific peculiarities of each project.

Chapters 12 and 13 represent some of the specific application scenarios in which we have accumulated the most experience thanks to the numerous projects developed over the last 18 years: international SEO and Website migrations. We take advantage of each scenario to address specific SEO aspects specific to it: deployment of international versions, crawl share optimization, implementation of linking elements, etc. alternate/hreflangThe preparation, coordination and supervision of changes in the structure of Websites with or without impact on their URLs and many others that enrich and complete the topics covered in the generic chapters.

Chapter 14 closes the book by addressing the specifics of SEO in a mobile-only world. From the different ways of adapting a Website to the predominant access from mobile terminals to the development of applications. Progressive WebApplications (PWA) and the implications of using Javascript development platforms for SEO: their limitations, drawbacks and indexability recommendations.

Plenty of examples of Websites like yours, with solutions that are easy to extrapolate and apply.

Both in the existing bibliography and in the cases presented by international consulting firms, cases of application of large companies are usually shown, from which little or nothing can be extrapolated when we try to apply them to our own scenario. We intend, therefore, to stick – whenever possible – to cases in which we have been directly involved or have first-hand knowledge. Websites where readers can easily find cases comparable to their own and whose solutions and results can inspire them to design their own strategies.

References of proven reliability

No matter how rigorous and updated a book may claim to be, it can never contain all the information available due to its own orientation to a certain reading level and logical space limitations. Our primary objective is to present in an orderly, clear and didactic way an easily understandable and applicable SEO work methodology, but at the same time, we aspire to turn this book into a compendium of quality references for the curious or advanced reader who wishes to broaden their knowledge or deepen their knowledge in some point.

In SEO, the source of the information is as important as the historical moment in which it was generated. Such is the pace of evolution of this discipline. We include, therefore, abundant bibliographic references or updated online sources that the reader can consult to contrast, expand or update the concepts presented. This will help to extend the useful life of this book.

In simple and didactic language

Over the last twenty years, I have participated in more than 450 courses, seminars, congresses, workshops, conferences and round tables related to digital marketing and, more specifically, SEO. This broad experience has been enormously enriching when it comes to anticipating the most frequent points of difficulty when explaining a concept: what are the most common doubts or questions, as well as the most effective pedagogical resources to solve them.

As in previous books, we will make good use of this experience to present our ideas in a simple and entertaining way, prioritizing communicative effectiveness over academic rigor. Our goal is not to provide a thorough analysis of how search engines work from the perspective of disciplines such as information retrieval or library science, but to provide best practices that will help readers in their own Web positioning projects in realistic scenarios and with easily understandable and applicable recommendations.

To whom it is addressed

This book is an excellent option for those who wish to deepen or update their knowledge of Web positioning. Always with the goal of making it simple and accessible, we assume that the reader is already familiar with the basics of SEO. Where we anticipate that less experienced readers may find it more difficult, we will include helpful external references.

The book by Aleyda Solís, SEO – Las claves esenciales published by Anaya Multimedia in 2016 deserves special mention and will be extremely useful for those who are just starting to learn.

Similarly, where the level of depth exceeds the proposed scope, we will also provide additional documentation and links for the more experienced.

These are the profiles we have had in mind when writing the following pages:

  • SEO Consultants.
  • SEO agencies.
  • Website analysts, managers and designers.
  • In-house SEO professionals.
  • Digital marketing department managers.
  • SEO trainers.
  • Students of SEO training programs.
  • Community Managers.
  • Web Programmers.
  • Webmasters.

We are confident that all of them will find new ideas and concepts, valuable contributions, useful tools and applicable recommendations to improve their SEO projects. Shall we start?