The Granola-Munching Hippie’s Guide to All-Natural SEO



This is the fourth post in the “Content Connections” series

You may have heard the bell tolling for SEO.

It’s dying. It’s dead. It’s so 2011. Google killed it.

If you’ve read articles about this, and believed them, you have my permission to not tell anyone about your foolishness.

Because the “SEO is dead” story is dangerously, laughably wrong.

It gets passed around because there’s a sliver of truth in it — the primitive “black hat” stuff that some amateurish SEOs preach is going away, fast.

Today we’re going back to the future and uncovering the crunchy, sustainable, all-organic SEOthat works today, and is going to keep working for the foreseeable future.

Peace out, man.

Go organic

The first ingredient of pure organic SEO is links. Fresh, real, relevant links from human beings who dig what you have to say.

I know we say that every week. I know you’re bored with me saying it. I can promise at least one eye-rolling comment today saying you’ve heard this before.

So stop wasting your time leaving cranky blog comments, get to work, and start creating content worth linking to, and we can move on to something else.

I’m still seeing thin, lame, and boring content out there, and listening to site owners wondering why they’re getting smacked in the mouth by Pandas and Penguins.

If you aren’t getting natural links, your content is either boring, you write lousy headlines, or you’re afraid to bang the drum with your social sharing network.

If you don’t have real links, you don’t have SEO that works. I don’t mean to harsh your mellow, but that’s the reality.

Make content, not war

So what do other web publishers want to link to, and share?

Good content. We all know that.

To be perfectly clear, good content is:

  • Useful (it solves an audience problem)
  • Interesting (it’s framed in a way that catches attention)
  • Audience-friendly (it has an interesting headline and it’s formatted to be readable)
  • Sticky (it invites the reader to settle in, learn more, and maybe take the relationship further)

All you need is (social sharing) love

Some of the “SEO is dead” nonsense comes from a misunderstanding of how the search engines handle links vs. social sharing.

Links and social sharing (like Tweets and Facebook shares) are both what Google calls “signals” of high-quality content, which is the stuff they want to put at the top of their search pages.

So what gets shared? Well, it’s the content that’s:

  • Useful (it solves an audience problem)
  • Interesting (it’s framed in a way that catches attention)
  • Audience-friendly (it has an interesting headline and it’s formatted to be readable)
  • Sticky (it invites the reader to settle in, learn more, and maybe take the relationship further)

Sounding a little familiar here?

The big search engines want to rank content that’s worth reading.

How do you know it’s worth reading? If people are reading (and sharing) it.

That means sharing with links, with Google+, with Pinterest, with whatever’s going to be invented 20 minutes from now.

If people find a way to share web content via psychic brain waves, the Google engineers will figure out how to include that as a signal.

Keep making shareable content and you won’t have to make many changes when the platforms come and go.

Spam is unhealthy for children and other living things

We all know what spam in email is — it’s that stuff asking us to make wire transfers to countries where we don’t know anyone, or selling fake pharmaceuticals with a totally free malware bonus.

What the search engines consider “spam” is somewhat similar — it’s thin, flat, stale content that’s just there to pack in a bunch of keywords.

It’s what bad SEOs think is “SEO Copywriting.” (For the sake of reference, here’s what good SEOs do instead.)

If you’re writing for search engines instead of people, you’re writing spam.

It wastes your time, annoys the people you do manage to get in front of, and benefits no one — especially your business.

If you do this now, stop. Start writing for humans only (either customers or second customers). Once it works for people, then you give it a little tweak for the search engines.

Don’t buy links, man

It’s a worse bummer than brown acid.

Link-buying used to be a part of a lot of effective SEO. Copyblogger has never done it because we’re kinda proud about not paying for lovin’, but a lot of otherwise legitimate sites quietly did.

Google hated it, but they couldn’t really figure out how to stop it.

Guess what. Google is really smart. I know three people who work for Google, and they’re all ridiculously intelligent.

When you’re pitching your SEO strategy against some of the smartest people in the world, you are going to lose.

Don’t buy links. Depending on how subtle your SEO is, it might work today, for a short time. Probably it won’t work at all. And sooner rather than later, it’s going to hurt your site.

Is optimization natural?

So is there any room left for a practice called “SEO”? Is optimization the same thing as spam?

The way I see it, SEO is like doing situps for a nudist. It’s still you, in your 100% natural state, you’re just making things a little more attractive.

Optimization today is about helping the search engine robots figure out the fine points of what you’re talking about. It’s a gentle tweak, not mindlessly stuffing keywords or playing dumb tricks.

This is part four of the Content Connections series

This post is part of a series on making connections with other web publishers — the kinds of connections that will serve your business.

It’s the other half of content marketing — what happens after you’ve created something worth reading.

To get the full series, just stay tuned here at Copyblogger. If you haven’t already, why notsubscribe by email so you’ll be sure you don’t miss any of the posts.

You can read the first three posts here:

About the Author: Sonia Simone is co-founder and CMO of Copyblogger Media. Get more from Sonia on Twitter and .