When can SEO be done?

SEO is a typical occupation that can be produced by other things, which is more worrying. As I said before, as long as there is a search engine, there is SEO, and there seems to be nothing to worry about.

But at the same time, it has to be considered that the things attached to SEO are not old enough and are not necessary for life. Obtaining information through search engines now seems to be the life of most people. In fact, it is only twenty years of history. Compared with the needs of clothing, food, housing and transportation, the search is not worth mentioning. Search is just one of the ways to get a better job, food and accommodation. It is not a requirement in itself. If you don’t need this type of search to get information in the future, people will immediately abandon the search.

For example, if you need to know what information you need in the future, the search engine (which is not a search engine is not easy to say) only gives a result – the most suitable one that meets the requirements, SEO is probably gone.

Various statistics show that search engines are still one of the most used services for Internet users, second only to instant messaging. This status has not changed over the years. The specific figures can be viewed by Analysys or CNNIC. However, this does not directly explain the SEO traffic situation.

To roughly judge how long SEO can last, you need to know two things:

  • What is the natural traffic trend of search engines? Is it growing? Still falling?
  • What is the percentage of natural clicks from search engines in website traffic? Is it growing? Still falling?

I have studied some data in the past two days and shared it.

BrightEdge’s latest 2017 US website traffic source statistics show that search engines’ natural search traffic accounts for 51% of the site’s total traffic source, the same as in 2015. However, paid search traffic increased from 9% in 2015 to 14%. As shown below:

Website traffic source ratio

This is the average of all sites. Specific to a particular website, the numbers are definitely different. Check Alexa’s Top website data to see that the traffic with the largest traffic, the proportion of search traffic is usually low, because most of the traffic sites are self-contained social media, or integrated portal, search traffic Accounted for less than 10%. Real e-commerce or information-based websites are different, brand awareness is as high as Amazon, search traffic also accounts for 21.8%, and Wikipedia accounts for 66.7%. The only surprise is that Jingdong’s search traffic only accounts for 1.9%.

Search traffic accounts for different industries. As shown below:

Proportion of website search traffic in different industries

Blue is a natural search and yellow is a paid search (PPC). The natural search traffic of the tourism industry only accounts for 40%, the health care industry is much higher, accounting for 73%, and the education industry is 62%.

The Chinese website does not see authoritative statistics, but it should be similar, and it may be lower than the US website. Yiguan previously reported that the Chinese travel industry website search traffic accounted for 40%, and now according to Alexa’s data, Ctrip’s search traffic should be around 21%, and Macella is about 30%.

The normal website I have seen, natural search traffic accounts for 40-60% is the normal state, of course, 60% is more dangerous, the source is too single. Although Internet people say that traffic is fragmented and sources are diversified, the data shows that search is still the largest source of website traffic, and the decline is not obvious.

The proportion decline is not obvious, what changes in search volume?

In December 2017, a post from Moz posted some data on Google’s search volume and clicks from Jumpshot.

The following picture shows the change in Google (US) search volume from November 2015 to October 2017. Orange is the PC side and blue is the mobile side:

Google search volume changes

Excluding seasonal fluctuations, Google’s search volume in the United States has only increased a little over the past two years, and in 2017 it has increased by 13.4% over 2016.

The actual traffic trend is as shown below, blue is natural search, red is PPC:

Google search traffic changes

As you can see, the actual click volume is a small drop. In January 2017, the number of hits reached its highest, and even after taking into account seasonal fluctuations, 2017 was generally lower than 2016. The search volume increased slightly, and the click volume decreased slightly, which indicates that the click rate must decrease. As shown below, blue is the natural search click rate, red is PPC:

Google search results click rate changes

It can be seen that in November 2016, the natural traffic hit rate suddenly dropped from 6.x% to 5.x%. Since it is not a gradual decline, this is certainly not a factor of search quality or user habits, but rather a page layout.

The figure below is the amount of search that did not cause a click, blue is the mobile side, red is the PC side:

No search for clicks

It can be seen that there is no big change in the click-through rate of the PC, and the search rate of no clicks is maintained at around 34%. However, the search for the mobile terminal that did not generate clicks in November 2016 increased from 42% to about 57%, indicating that the decline in the natural search click rate is mainly caused by the change of the mobile search result page.

Another thing worth mentioning is that from the actual traffic map, natural search traffic is always about 20 times the PPC traffic.

On the whole:

  • Natural search is still the largest source of traffic, and the ratio is still far beyond other sources.
  • Although the search volume is still growing, the growth rate is not large.
  • Actual natural search traffic may also drop due to a drop in click through rate.

Therefore, for SEO newcomers, this is not a fast-growing industry, and it is not necessary to give the kind of enthusiasm and hope 10 years ago. For those who are already doing SEO, don’t worry too much. At least 5-10 years of natural search traffic will still be the largest source of website traffic, and there is no cliff-type drop in search traffic. Traffic may continue to rise, and SEO still has a good day of at least 5-10 years.

What will happen after 10 years, no one knows. But at that time, I should retire, and I didn’t care about that.

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