I’ve been reading articles claiming that “SEO is Dead”. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the practice of determining what it takes to get your website listed highly with sites like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. But the problem is, these sites are not that effective at driving traffic to your website, so getting listed on page one often takes considerably more effort than its worth. SEO may not be dead, but it is a waster of time. Here is the reality:

Google remains the number one search engine, with about a 52% share of all internet searches. The number two search engine is neither Yahoo or Bing, but YouTube! YouTube accounts for about 18% of searches, and since YouTube is owned by Google, this brings Google’s total to about 70% of the search industry. This is what I refer to as the “SEO Trap”.

This does NOT mean that 70% of the traffic comes from searches, only that 70% of search traffic comes from Google or YouTube. While Google still dominates search, the primary way that people are finding out about new websites is NOT through search engines. Today, only about 25 percent of traffic comes to the average website from search engines.  The primary way people discover websites is through word-of-mouth. This can take the form of emails, links from other sites, YouTube videos, and most noticeably, Social Networking sites like Facebook.

What is much more relevant than getting on the first page of Google for some obscure search term, is to work on the total “Findability” of your website. Since people are using numerous ways to get to websites, you must expand your total footprint across the Internet so that you can be easily found on any and all of them. It is far easier to drive traffic to your website from Facebook and YouTube than it is to get on page one of Google. And since Facebook now drives more traffic to other websites than Google does, it is also more productive.

Here’s the kicker: this works just like the chicken or the egg theory. Once you have increased your “findability” across every avenue of the Internet, you will start becoming popular. And after you have become popular, then Google just may put you on page one after all.

A quick example: I recently posted a YouTube video for a client on “ironwood figurines”. Within 24 hours that video was listed on page one of Google (yes, it is easier to do this with YouTube than with SEO). And now that company’s website is also listed on page one of Google for the search term “ironwood figurines”. So don’t waste your time with SEO – focus on becoming popular on social network sites and drive your traffic from there.