My goal with this article is to help you develop a winning philosophy and mindset for SEO. If you can develop a positive SEO philosophy, this will steer you away from the myriad time-wasting SEO tools and tasks that suck up time and deliver little results and will help you easily focus on the jobs that will make a real difference. 

The fundamental backbone of this philosophy is simple – give, and you shall receive; so, if you can – give me 5 minutes, and I may be able to change your outlook on this often confusing and misunderstood marketing tactic.

Update – March 2024: earlier this month, we saw another big core update from Google that has seen plenty of folks moaning in the SEO forums over at Reddit. In our experience, not much has changed for real businesses, but in this shifting landscape, it is important to know what timeless SEO strategies to focus on, and we will outline how to become algorithms-update proof!

Update 2 – June 2024 – the Google SEO Leak: For the first time in history an actual leak detailing variables used in the ranking algorithm happened. There is no idea of weighting of variables but they would seem to confirm much of what we have always suspected that click data and engagement data is used by the search engine.

What do I mean by SEO philosophy?

Well, I am no philosopher, but I have spent a lot of time working with businesses over the past twenty years and helping them generate exposure on and business from search engines. So, I have seen this done right, and I have seen SEO done wrong. So, I would like to think I have developed some wisdom about the right way to tackle an SEO project. Like many things in life, starting with the right mindset is fundamental to your success.

Philosophy is the study of underlying things. It is how we try to understand the reasons or basis for things. Philosophy is the process of understanding fundamental truths about the world we live in (or the search engine we market on). 

So, it naturally follows that philosophy for SEO is a way to understand why certain sites rank over others. Ultimately, an SEO philosophy should be a set of ideas that govern our approach to SEO and provide us with a guiding light in what can be a dark and cavernous subject.

SEO – Give, and you shall receive

“Give, and you shall receive” – Luke 6:38, The Bible

Now, I am not a religious man, but I believe there is a lot of wisdom to be taken from the past. And certainly, when it comes to SEO, the old proverb “give, and you shall receive” is a solid analogy for what an SEO philosophy should look like. 

In life, reciprocity, the practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit, is a social norm where the response to positive action is another positive action. You scratch my back and I will scratch yours. That is how the world works, or at least how we would like it to.

So, ‘give, and you shall receive’ and reciprocityhow does this apply to SEO?

Think about it like this: Google wants to show the best results to its users.

The best results – That is it. Plain and simple. So, to rank highly, you have to aim to be the best result. But what does that really mean? The best to who? Who decides what is the best? 

You need to be the best result for your prospective customer.

You need to provide all the information they need to help them decide. 

Be the best within whatever category and you should rank highly. 

If you want search engine traffic you have to give Google a reason to return your site at the top of the results. You have to give value to your potential site visitors. This often means creating the best resource that helps your customers achieve their goals. You have to sacrifice your own time to craft the most valuable answer out there to whatever questions your prospective customers are asking.

You have to be really, brutally honest here. It is not enough that you create something that you think is good. To rank, it has to be great. It has to be better or different to everything else out there. A winning SEO strategy is one that focuses on adding more value by doing something different or better. Ideally, different and better!

Don’t skim this. Review what is out there. Be honest with yourself. Is what you have created better than what else is out there? Ask yourself that question and answer it honestly.

Remember – you are the expert

You are an expert at what you do. There are a thousand little things that you know and do every day that would benefit your audience. Your customers need your knowledge and help. By sharing this knowledge and helping your customers then you will generate more exposure and rank more highly. 

Google’s own Search Essentials (previously Webmaster Guidelines) has a line that demonstrates this well:

“Create helpful, reliable, people-first content”

With the recent (2023 & 2024) Google updates, which focus ever more on rewarding content that clearly demonstrates real-world experience (and not just easily generated AI-supported knowledge), these points are crucially important.

Helpful, reliable, people-first content.

Historically, the wording was to create unique, valuable and engaging content – this is still useful, but maybe not quite clear enough and creating helpful content for people is the key order of the day in 2024 and beyond. 

If you can work this into your SEO philosophy, look to be the best result out of your competitors and provide a website with unique, helpful, valuable, engaging and written for real people, then you will be ahead of the pack.

Google’s own SEO starter guide is helpful as this is advice direct from Google:

Putting this into practice

The practical application of this SEO philosophy varies, but some simple examples include:

  • Detailed case studies that show exactly how you solved your customer’s problems.
  • Providing additional information about your own lived experience with those products to help a customer make the right purchase decision.
  • A landing page that clearly provides all the information that a customer needs to choose your business: services, prices, testimonials, case studies, staff, etc. 
  • The creation of content that helps potential customers solve their problems – much how this post (hopefully) helps educate our potential customers and Google rewards us by showing our answers (and business) in the search results.

The specifics here vary yet the philosophy is the same. Be the best. Provide value. Give something. Ensure your site deserves to rank highly. Be a great business in the real world. Be an expert. Be an authority. Be the business that customers can trust.

To look at this from the other direction – don’t just copy what is already out there and be yet another generic, cookie-cutter result. Be unique, valuable, and engaging.

Give, and you shall receive. 

Give value to the world, share your knowledge, and you shall receive highly relevant traffic. 

Some real people are struggling with the problems you can solve. Better still, they will first encounter you as a highly credible expert who can help them get to where they want to be.

Another way to think of this is as a form of reciprocity – you give your customers what they want, and Google a solid page to return in their results, and they give you visibility and traffic.

The in-person networking group BNI has a similar motto – ‘Givers Gain’. That is if you give, you shall receive. It works online. It works offline. It works on Google. 

If you can apply this mindset then the rest of your SEO will get orders of magnitude easier.

Note: Promotion matters

There is a wrinkle to all of this; this is where the “SEO” bit comes into play.

Google gathers many signals about how people engage with your content and can use those to decide what ranks, but to do this, they have to find your content.

This means you will have to do some promotion. Maybe some ads, maybe some sensible link-building. The specifics will depend on your current situation.

Ultimately, Google does not understand what makes good content so they have to use signals from real people – from their browsers, from the search engine – how they engage.

Your job is to get your content in front of people so Google can gather this data and use it to help inform rankings.

Remember, though, that promoting something is much easier if it is actually good and adds value to what is already out there. You can’t quite build it and expect them to come, but you can promote something that is promoteable!

But what about…

Yes, there is more to SEO than creating a unique, valuable, and engaging website. You have to worry about technical SEO a bit, ensure that the basic nuts and bolts of page optimisation are taken care of, and, yes, think about keywords. 

But, the issue is that these aspects of SEO get nearly all the attention and often end up taking up all of your SEO time when they should be 10% of how you spend your time. 

Focus on adding value and making sure your site is better than the competition and sensible promotion and you will see your site rise up the rankings.

That is a wrap folks – any questions drop a comment below or get in touch – always happy to help! 🙂 

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