Online marketers have always been barraged by a stream of doomsday accounts about how SEO is now dead, or just on the brink of it, and that the entire industry will implode. These predictions have been around for nearly a decade (you can find no shortage of articles from 2008 talking about how SEO’s end was nigh). Nowadays, the particular doomsday event that everyone is preaching about is apps, and that the increasing popularity of apps has now signified the beginning of the end for the rest of the internet, particularly more traditional browser-based internet exploring. Let’s explore some of the factors behind that theory…
Increased mobile usage
The primary foundation of the idea that apps will destroy SEO is the lightning quick rise of mobile devices and the increasing share of internet usage by those devices. For example, this past October, the share of worldwide internet usage of mobile devices exceeded that of traditional desktop computers for the first time, with over 51% of all web traffic being used on mobile devices. While people still use browsers on smartphones and tablets, the vast majority of internet usage on devices has been through apps. However, when you only consider the United States, desktop internet usage accounts for nearly 60% of the pie. A shift is certainly happening, but it isn’t as definitive or immediate as some people think.
Reasons that hold apps back
- Apps take up hard drive space and screen space. Because of this, apps always need to be sparing in their features, or else they will be too large to justify their presence on a device.
- Apps are expensive for companies to pursue. The cost of making and maintaining a website is very manageable, because the infrastructure of the online marketing world is setup to handle it. App development requires lots of design and development talent and time that doesn’t come cheap.
- Most mobile device users only actually use 10 apps or less, and most of those spots are dedicated to major social media apps like Facebook and Twitter or are pragmatic apps like Weather. That leaves a much smaller window to make an impact on consumers with only 2-3 app spots that you are competing for.
While the market is definitely shifting towards a more mobile focus, the idea that there won’t be a place for SEO seems misplaced. When you look back 10 years, SEO was radically different than it is now, but it adapted meet the changes that Google and other search engines made to the marketplace. Ultimately, these movements have always proven to be better for internet users. As long SEO strategy aligns with the benefit of internet users, in terms of content and usability, then it will have an important place in online marketing.