Is SEO Dead In 2024? No, But The Playbook Must Change

Dan Silber
May 1, 2024
8 min read

Search engine optimization has often been proclaimed dead, yet it persists as an essential marketing strategy. However, new data reveals the old SEO playbook is no longer as effective. Brands need to adapt to satisfy modern searchers and earn their trust.

In this article, we'll dive into fresh survey results exposing how B2B buyers search today. We'll discuss why company websites rank low in trustworthiness and outline key ways to update outdated SEO strategies for our AI-driven age. The data makes one thing clear - succeeding now requires creating content providing genuine value.

OGM survey results

A recent OGM survey asked B2B buyers about their search and content habits. The findings revealed insights into how they research and make purchasing decisions today.

The survey signals shifts in buyer behavior that B2B content marketers must note. While search engines remain crucial, there's room to improve producing content buyers actually trust and want.

Google Still #1 for research

Despite all the changes in search, Google still reigns supreme as the starting point for most B2B research according to the survey results. Around 80% of B2B buyers indicated they begin their search on Google, making it far and away the most popular starting point.

This shows that even with the rise of social media and other platforms, Google search remains the dominant force for those looking to research B2B solutions online. While the search experience itself may be evolving, with features like featured snippets and knowledge panels shaping results, the survey confirms that the majority of buyers continue to kickoff their research on the familiar Google homepage.

Some buyers may eventually turn to other sources like Reddit or LinkedIn to complement their research, but Google holds strong as the leader in initiating the discovery process.

Real people over company sites

One of the biggest takeaways from the OGM survey was that B2B company websites ranked dead last as a trusted source of information for buyers. This result may seem shocking at first, but makes sense when you think about it.

Most B2B content created today follows a similar formula—identify keyword gaps, sprinkle in related keywords, and produce long-form content optimized for search engines.

B2B companies need to adapt and find ways to bring more real user perspectives into their content.

Relying on the same old keyword-focused content strategy simply doesn't work anymore. Buyers want to hear from other people who have been there and done that.

B2B content feels the same

It's clear buyers feel much industry content looks and feels too similar across companies. Over 50% agreed on this in the OGM survey.

This likely stems from creators following the same playbook - looking at competitor rankings, finding gaps, and producing comparable content on those topics.

The result is very homogenous content that covers the same topics, takes similar approaches, and provides comparable information. Buyers see this repetitive and uninspired content everywhere, so it's no wonder B2B sites rank last in trustworthiness.

B2B content creators need to break out of this mold of imitation content. Simply matching keywords and aping competitors is not effective anymore. The new playbook requires more creativity, unique perspectives, and value-add analysis.

The old (outdated) SEO playbook

For a long time, the standard SEO content creation process was:

  1. Identify keyword gaps from competitors
  2. Research what they rank for
  3. Pick targets based on volume and difficulty
  4. Write content focusing on those keywords
  5. Use content optimization tools like Clearscope
  6. Publish and hope for rankings

The emphasis was squarely on targeting specific keywords and matching competitors. Originality often took a back seat to keyword density. User intent and satisfaction were afterthoughts.

This model worked for a while but is becoming outdated as algorithms evolve. Simply matching keywords is insufficient to rank highly or build trust now. A new approach is required.

Matching keywords is not enough

Simply matching competitor keywords doesn't cut it anymore. The old tactic was to identify what keywords they ranked for and try replicating that in your content.

However, this playbook is outdated. As the survey shows, buyers find company sites and content untrustworthy and repetitive. They want real perspectives from users, not rehashed keywords.

Merely matching keywords without unique value is now a losing strategy. Google rewards original, high-quality content offering genuine helpfulness. Keywords alone don't guarantee rankings. Companies must create content providing distinctive insights tailored to their audience.

Content is too long

The survey found 51% of buyers believe most B2B content is too long. This likely results from trying to hit arbitrary word counts and stuff in keywords.

But length doesn't equal value. More words don't make content better automatically. Overly long-winded pieces often lead to high bounce rates as readers' attention wanes.

B2B buyers want content that's concise and easily digestible. They're after key insights, not novels. Writing succinctly delivers clearer messages, and shorter content can be more engaging.

The focus should be on quality over quantity. Provide value first, not filler to pad lengths.

Video is preferred

According to the survey, 66% of buyers prefer video over text content. This aligns with video's ubiquity as a communication medium across platforms today.

Text-heavy content can feel overwhelming, while a well-produced video efficiently conveys key points and perspectives. Brands relying mostly on text may be missing opportunities.

Creating more video allows showcasing expertise in buyers' preferred format - anything from explainers and testimonials to behind-the-scenes footage and user interviews.

Video represents a major chance for B2B marketers to revamp their content strategy. Investing here can help brands stand out from competitors still leaning on text.

How AI is changing SEO

While the old playbook fades, AI opens new content optimization opportunities. Tools can analyze competitors, identify gaps, and even assist writing.

For example, RivalFlow AI uses AI to compare your content against top rankings and provide recommendations on questions you're not answering and questions that you've answered, but not throughly. The sole purpose of the platform is to help folks create helpful content that is actually answering the questions searches have.

On the creation side, AI platforms like can help draft content from prompts and outlines, speeding up ideation.

The key is using AI to enhance human creativity and expertise, not replace it entirely. AI can surface insights and optimize elements, but skilled creators are still needed to craft compelling narratives and unique perspectives.

When leveraged strategically alongside human effort, AI can be powerful for creating the standout, user-centric content modern SEO demands.

A new blueprint for user-first content

So what should an effective B2B content strategy look like now? Here are some key elements:

  • Conduct user research and build detailed buyer personas
  • Map out topics and questions your audience cares about at each stage
  • Prioritize formats like video that your audience prefers
  • Leverage experts and thought leaders for unique, authoritative perspectives
  • Use AI marketing tools to analyze competitors and identify opportunities to differentiate
  • Focus on communicating clearly and concisely, avoiding fluff
  • Optimize for featured snippets, video carousels, and other SERP features
  • Amplify through social, email, influencers, and paid promotion
  • Continuously update content to stay aligned with evolving user needs

The core principle is relentlessly focusing on understanding and serving your audience. Keywords are still means to connect with users, not ends in themselves. By deeply grasping your buyers and creating uniquely valuable content for them, you'll be poised to win in search.

The future is user-focused SEO (like it should have been from the start)

The days of gaming rankings through keyword stuffing and manipulative tactics are over. The new SEO era prioritizes creating content with the user top of mind.

By deeply understanding your audience, communicating with empathy and clarity, and leveraging AI and tools to optimize for relevance and value, you can craft content rising above the noise to forge real connections with buyers.

SEO's future is about being genuinely helpful, not using tricks and hacks. The brands and marketers embracing this mindset will drive discovery, engagement, and revenue for years - no matter how algorithms evolve.

SEO is evolving, not dying. It's simply becoming more human-centric. Adapt now or be left behind.