Sustainable SEO as Growth Strategy.

Enter Long-Term Search Engine Optimization.

January 24, 2020 | SustSeo Staff

Definition: Sustainable SEO means the spam-free and compliant optimization of websites for search engines where the focus is on creating long-standing growth, instead of short-term gain.

Similar to growing coffee in a sustainable way, the idea of sustainable optimization revolves around principles of work ethics and quality standards. Put in a nutshell, the three commandents of sustainability optimization are these:

  • Grow quality produce
  • Do not harm or exploit others
  • Use long-range planning.

Transposed into the world of SEO, sustainability would mean a form of optimization that revolves around:

  • Rich Content (i.e. quality produce),
  • Compliance (i.e. no harm to others),
  • A Strong USP  (i.e. sustainability)
  • Strategic Planning (i.e. sustainability)

We will have a closer look at these four cornerstones right after the table of content.

PART A

PART B

1. The Stable Foundation of Sustainable SEO (the four cornerstones)

1.1. Compliance

To use a more frank definition, Sustainable SEO means optimization that will survive the next Google update. This is not surprising as sustainable SEO does not seek to undermine search engine policies. Rather, it seeks to embrace them. 

And that is not a bad thing. With Google finally catching up on spam tactics through Hummingbird and the personal assessment of content, compliance no longer is a bottleneck in optimization. Instead, it is becoming a full-fledged conditio sine qua non, meaning that in the long-run only the compliant ones shall prevail.

What applies to compliance with search engine also applies to legal compliance. Here, data privacy regulation like the EU’s GDPR, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) or Britain’s Data Protection Act of 2018, which has implemented the entire GDPR verbatim, force companies to take consumer privacy seriously. Severe transgressors will be punishedAnd they should be: personal data about an individual can never be owned. It can only be processed, a permission that comes to an end once consent is withdrawn. 

But here, too, compliance is no invention by windy bureaucrats. To the contrary, embracing compliance with privacy demands can be used as a comparative advantage against competition: assuring consumers that their data is in safe hands acts with you as a massive trust signal, in particular for ROI-heavy markets that happen to be strongholds of privacy enforcement such as Germany.

1.2. Rich Content

Just as much as non-trickery is part of sustainability so is providing a surplus value to the consumers of your content. Sustainable SEO simply forbids low-quality content. This is why sustainability works in the favor of users of both users and service providers alike: the former get to prevail in the market, the latter get a spam-free experience that also answers their search interest.

Sustainable SEO commands and requires high-quality content. As crawlers are able to separate thin from rich content very easily these days, rich content in itself is a ranking factor. Not to mention that it is rich content that will trigger social signals en masse, another (temporary) ranking factor that can pave the way for long-term ranking through the backlinks it triggers.

Lastly and in consequence, one cannot promote low-level content in a sustainable way. Low-quality content always happens to be at the brink of non-compliance (or worse). Therefore, it is always at the brink of getting penalized, be that by search engines, by regulators or both.

1.3. Strong USP

On the one hand, having a strong USP is a prerequisite for rich-content. To put it another way, how would you create rich-content for a product that happens to be yet another USB-ready cool bag? Once the USP is strong, creating content comes naturally.

In addition, a strong USP happens to be strongly connected to the success of your media outreach. In a world where the market of novelty is saturated like no other, standing out is not only a hard, if not impossible thing to do. Even worse. It is, you guessed it, a prerequisite.

Only a strong USP will trigger the attention necessary to obtain backlinks from those outlets that have the site authority that your project needs in order to achieve the rankings that you want.

Only a strong USP has the substance to be extended, expanded and updated so that you can trigger attention in order to obtain new backlinks for the case that competition has increased their SEO efforts.

And only a strong USP will allow you to fuuly comply with search engine policies long-term. This is because thin-content — the natural outcome of a weak USP — more and more getting penalized by Google. And even if it is not flat-out penalized, rich content (and be it just rich in word count) is starting to more and more outrank thin content even with the most transaction-related keywords, i.e. where dull article pages are competing against other dull article pages.

1.4. Strategic Planning

Even though sustainable optimization can be applied at any given time, it is able to unfold its full potential only when it becomes an integral part of the project itself, meaning when it is implemented from the get-go.

From creating content to creating media coverage (yes, it is created) all aspects of seeing long-standing growth require strategic planning. This will cover, at the very least, the time span of one year for t

A Low-Key Trend in SEO

The term The blue graph on the laptop screen is real. It shows the popularity of the term “Sustainable Seo” in Google Trends from 2004 until today.

As you can see the term has not seen the slightest buzz in over ten years. Instead, it has been flying below the radar of the general public for decades, hereby almost flatlining. Why is that? Why has Sustainable SEO never gained any real attention by anyone?

Regular SEO is a Simple Transaction

Someone who is scouting for services in search engine optimization in a way where he is persuing them as a service will only see a certain type of results in his quest. When someone seeks out SEO that way it simply means he will purchase SEO like he would purchase any other service for the better of his business. This is to say he does so by necessity, not by consent or approval.

Who is the number-one responder to  searches with such heavy buyer’s intent? The answer is  unsurprising: it is marketers. 98% of information on SEO that is readily available out there is de facto a product you are buying (or applying).  These are not services whose appeal is based on the solidity of their results. Rather, it is good marketing that is being purchased here.

Sustainable SEO is Not a Transaction

In that sense the rule of ‘You Get What You Pay For’ becomes ‘You Get What You Search For’. If you approach SEO with a transactional mindset, you are looking to buy. Nothing more. Therefore, it is marketing products that will be coming to your rescue. Nothing more.

Sustainable SEO, however, is not a transaction.

Regular SEO is a Simple Transaction

Someone who is scouting for services in search engine optimization in a way where he is persuing them as a service will only see a certain type of results in his quest. When someone seeks out SEO that way it simply means he will purchase SEO like he would purchase any other service for the better of his business. This is to say he does so by necessity, not by consent or approval.

Who is the number-one responder to  searches with such heavy buyer’s intent? The answer is  unsurprising: it is marketers. 98% of information on SEO that is readily available out there is de facto a product you are buying (or applying).  These are not services whose appeal is based on the solidity of their results. Rather, it is good marketing that is being purchased here.

Sustainable SEO is Not a Transaction

In that sense the rule of ‘You Get What You Pay For’ becomes ‘You Get What You Search For’. If you approach SEO with a transactional mindset, you are looking to buy. Nothing more. Therefore, it is marketing products that will be coming to your rescue. Nothing more.

Sustainable SEO, however, is not a transaction.

The Boutique Approach to SEO

Sustainable SEO is a long-term strategy with a wholesome approach to optimization. It considers the full range of factors that contribute to a websites standing in search engines. 

This will include anything from established ranking factors to the server-sided technical makeup of a website (page load speed) as well as its standing in regular media, its branding and its audience.

Highly Effective Advertising

The blue graph to the left shows the popularity of the term “Sustainable Seo” in Google Trends from 2004 until today. As you can see the term has not seen the slightest buzz in over ten years. Instead, it is flatlining and flies below the radar of the general public. Why is that?Sustainable SEO is a highly effective form of advertising.

First, most

The "Last Man Standing" in Optimization

Sustainable SEO is a response to sophisticated search engine algorithms that view websites as a holistic entity instead of a mix of content and backlinks. With algorithms growing smarter every day – and with Google cracking down hard on low-quality optimiyation through updates like Panda, Wanda and Danda – a sustainable approach to SEO is more and more becoming to only choice of seeing results.

Google has been crackign down in search engine rankings.