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July 15, 2008

When Search Engine Optimization Really Matters

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As I write it’s quite late on Monday night. It’s especially late for someone like myself who’s usually in bed by 11pm. But it’s one of those Mondays where even though I’m only one day in, I’m already three days behind. It’s also a travel week (I leave Thursday to head to BlogHer). And the SEO Newsletter will go out tomorrow later today. Once I finish it, of course.

Sigh.

Our Feature article for the newsletter, however, is finished. It was written by our incredible SEO Charity Contest winner Ryan Freeman and documents what he learned from the SEO educational prize package he won and how he applied that knowledge to helping out The Elisha Foundation over the last 90 days. The article is amazing. I’d go as far as to call it refreshing.

My close friends in the industry know it’s been a period of SEO reflection for me. It’s been a time for me to revaluate and ponder a lot of things. A lot of questioning if what I’m writing/saying/talking about really matters and if anyone even cares. A lot of asking myself if the reasons I became involved in search engine optimization are still there or if the spammers and cheaters have finally won out and I should admit defeat. Is there a point to what we do other than paying rent? Then Ryan’s article arrived in my inbox. I get it again.

Just like Keri Morgret before him, Ryan’s 90-day update article is a testament to all the great SEO education he’s received over the past few months attending Search Engine Strategies New York in March and our SEO training and Advanced Certification course in June. He even invested his own money in attending Small Business Marketing Unleashed back in April. And over the course of three months, Ryan has been able to take all that knowledge and SEO experience and dedicate himself and his time to helping The Elisha Foundation increase their search visibility and extend their mission.

In the article, Ryan talks a lot about his work with The Elisha Foundation and all the steps he’s taken to help the site. Even more, he talks about the people that make up the backbone of the organization. They’re all people who have volunteered their time to support this amazing nonprofit that specializes in bringing together families of people with special needs and organizing retreats for them. Ryan and his team have been able to create a community for people to connect and share their experiences to help them not feel so alone. And though technically Ryan’s “off the hook” since his binding 90 days are up, he lets us know he’ll be staying on to continue to help the cause. He says he’s agreed to keep working with The Elisha Foundation through the next year and that, truthfully, he’ll probably never leave. He says the work that they do is too important and that it’s a blessing for him to be a part of it.

Ryan’s article reminded me why I developed a love for search engine optimization – because of the ability it gives you to help really worthy sites succeed and to do good. SEO has never been about getting a crappy site to rank. It’s about helping quality sites, sites like The Elisha Foundation to improve accessibility, attract a larger audience and extend their bottom line so they can continue the important work that they do.

Something else that always attracted me to SEO was the reasons people had for first getting involved. It was always by chance and never because of the money or “fame”. People dedicated their time to learning about getting sites ranked because they had a fire behind them to succeed. They were working for a cause that needed visibility, they needed to bring awareness to an illness, they were trying to get their small mom and pop shop out of the red, etc. There was always a story that revolved around helping other people or bettering their own situation. Back in the day, people SEOd sites with a passion. It was inspiring to watch and listen to the stories. It had been awhile since I heard a really good one. Until Ryan’s.

Tell me I live in a bubble or that I subscribe to Pollyanna SEO or that I’m a white hat baby and I’ll point you to Ryan’s article. Why? Because it’s about the type of search engine optimization you do when it really matters. It’s about being true to the heart and the mission of the industry. It represents the intent and our way of thinking before we had to worry about paid links or nofollow or what exactly Google means by “excessive”. It’s about helping good sites gain visibility. When white hat and black hat didn’t exist. It’s the way you SEO a site when you need it to succeed. It’s about getting back to basics. That’s the kind of search engine optimization I love. That’s the kind of SEO I believe in.

If you’re feeling a little jaded about SEO or having a hard time remembering why you got into it, I’d recommend you read Ryan’s article once it’s published. I’ll update the post with a link a little later when it goes live. All I really know is this, I was having a royally crabby Monday before I read Ryan’s article and he changed that. It’s a testament to who he is and it’s a testament to SEO’s power to bring people together. In a time when the industry seems to be getting more and divisive, it may just serve as a nice reminder about why it is you do what you do.





5 responses to “When Search Engine Optimization Really Matters”

  1. Kate Morris writes:

    Thank you Lisa, I can’t wait to read that article. It’s good to hear the good people are doing every once in a while. It’s like getting a heart touching story in the news. It reminds you why you wake up everyday and deal with everything. One day we might make a difference and that is what makes it all worth it.
    I’ll join you in the bubble/Pollyanna/white hat baby group. This stuff is why I do this with such passion and why I am proud to call you a friend. You and Ryan rock. :)

    PS Hope your hand is feeling better :)

  2. Search Engine Optimization Journal writes:

    We’re excited to read the article. It’s great to see SEO being done for good.

  3. RKF writes:

    Wow … thanks Lisa!

    This is one of many reasons why I appreciate having a company like Bruce Clay in the SEO field. When so much of the “cool” conversation is about being sneaky, getting one over on Google, etc., it’s nice to see a company succeed well by doing the job rightly, cleanly and ethically.

    There are days when the management/ownership side gets a little overwhelming and I daydream about a BC Canada office… Then it’s back to reality and paperwork :)

  4. Carlos del Rio writes:

    Lisa, I wasn’t implying that your views were childish. It was just the cutest picture I could find with a white hat. :)

  5. pat writes:

    well said.
    one piece of advice…
    don’t have “royally crabby Monday”s.

    Q:What’s this?… OES SEO

    A:
    SEO reflection

    I challenge anyone to make a dumber joke than that :)



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