Why Sustainable SEO Is Key (And How to Achieve It)

SEO is one of the most important aspects of online marketing. But it can be challenging to achieve good SEO results without doing the right things. More specifically, you can only achieve lasting results with sustainable SEO.

What Is Sustainable SEO?

Sustainable SEO means ensuring every action you take comes from a big-picture lens. It’s ensuring every move you make aligns with the goal of search engines, consumers, and your business. It satisfies the needs of all stakeholders, so your SEO gains last. 

You can look at Google and Bing’s mission statements for how you should approach SEO.

  • Google: “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” 
  • Bing: “help you search less and do more.”

As you can see, both have mission statements centered on user experience and satisfaction.

Your SEO strategy should follow the same. In other words, take user-centric actions. 

Making moves that only serve business needs tend to hurt search engine rankings.

A Lesson From The Past

SEO was about using cheap tricks in the past (a bit over two decades ago). 

Like today, content, keywords, and backlinks were the two most important factors. However, many gamed the system since it was easy to do so back then. 

For example, people would use their main keyword in every other sentence, stuff terms in metadata, hide texts, and create spammy backlinks. And those things worked because early search technology wasn’t as sophisticated. But AI changed everything. 

Search engine systems, notably Google, became incredibly adept at comprehending information, much like people. So websites could no longer trick the algorithms – at least, not easily.

The numerous algorithmic changes to Google search caused many companies to go out of business. The lucky ones were able to adjust accordingly to rebuild their rankings from scratch. 

Fast-forward to the present day, AI is the most critical for SEO. 

Every year, Google and Bing make hundreds of algorithmic adjustments to improve search. Google alone does 500 to 600 changes per year on average, and sometimes, it’s much more than that, such as in 2020 when the company made 4,500 changes.

Therefore, using any sort of trickery to rank will only harm your website down the road. Instead, focus on sustainability or sustainable SEO. That way, the updates are less likely to affect your business.

Search engines want brands to think of users. They want you to care about your potential customers. And that means doing the right things, such as publishing pages that are relevant and useful to the target audience.

The sustainability of SEO over paid ads

SEO focuses on organic traffic, while paid ads are pay-to-play. And unlike paid ads, investing in SEO can produce long-lasting effects. 

Many companies continue to receive sales from past SEO efforts even after they stop altogether or scale back. However, there’s a gradual progression with SEO, so it takes longer to see significant returns.

In contrast, paid ads are more short-term. That’s because while paying for ads can drive relevant traffic, not all companies can sustain the expense. 

Traffic and sales typically stop when you don’t pay. But there’s a benefit in combining paid ads and SEO until the latter catches up. The more SEO you do, the less you need to spend on marketing over time.

In short, SEO is much more sustainable because it decreases marketing costs over time, and your returns can last indefinitely. 

How To Build A Sustainable SEO Strategy

Algorithmic changes should always align with archiving an excellent user experience. 

Therefore, the main thing to remember about building a sustainable SEO strategy is to do things without any trickery. That way, your SEO efforts should continue to yield results for many years.

This means you need the right tactics in your strategy. For example, building links by genuinely commenting on other people’s blog posts is fine. What’s not good is using automation to comment on various blog posts with generic statements. 

One way can lead to new relationships or connections, making it effective; the other can cause problems for the business and its rankings.

Let’s look at some key components of sustainable SEO.

Understand Your Buyer’s Journey

You’ll need a robust content development plan, and the buyer’s journey is vital. 

What is the potential path to purchase for your target audience? 

Map it out and then research keywords that fit well with your business. Then match each keyword to different stages of the buyer’s journey. 

These stages are usually: 

  • Awareness – The prospect becomes aware of your solution.
  • Interest – The customer becomes interested enough to learn more about your brand.
  • Consideration – The person begins to consider your product. They might shop around, visiting competing brands to ensure your product is right.
  • Decision – They buy the product.

Understanding where every content fits is a crucial part of sustainable SEO.

Further, it is worth noting that buyer journey stages vary by business. For example, some brands might have three stages; others may have eight. 

Make Your Content Great

Build content that helps prospects move forward from each stage. But ensure each piece of content is impressive and try to keep most evergreen. 

Evergreen content is pieces that should continue to be relevant to readers long-term. 

Around 80 percent of your content should be evergreen. The other 20 percent can consist of content prone to change. 

It will be a lot of work, so consider working with copywriters

Create Cornerstone Content

Cornerstone content is articles or pages comprehensively covering specific topics, usually long-form. 

This type of content is excellent for solidifying a company’s relevance to search queries. For example, an online retail store that writes the ultimate guide for buying shoes is sending a clear signal of relevance to search engine algorithms. 

Put another way; the company is telling the AI that its website is relevant to the topic. So create as much cornerstone content as you need. 

One thing to remember is that even evergreen content can eventually start to become outdated. For instance, new information can make certain statements no longer relevant. 

As such, you should update your cornerstone content whenever necessary.

Ensure Internal Linking And Backlinks Are Strong

Linking between pages on your site is vital for SEO (internal links). 

Search engines use internal links to locate web pages. And without a good internal link structure, the algorithms can miss some pages or find it difficult to understand which ones are most important. 

Your internal links will help ensure that all your essential pages, such as product pages, are indexed. Plus, it passes on “link equity,” – which is a search engine ranking factor based on the idea that certain pages of high value will pass some value to others through links. 

A good internal link structure also serves users, ensuring visitors can easily find the information they want.

As for backlinks, it’s about building good ones. 

For example, paying for links can place your site in “bad neighborhoods.” Sites that request money for backlinks are often low-quality and have sub-par content. Many of these websites don’t do a good job of ensuring quality because it’s mainly about the money. 

And search engine algorithms are smart enough to identify who may be paying for links. Not to mention due to the quality of those sites, they probably won’t rank well.

On the flip side, earning your link by working hard on the content you contribute to a blog is excellent. In this case, there’s no money exchange, so you must provide quality work; otherwise, your article won’t make it.

Generally, the best way to judge a backlink is to look at how you’ll get it. Backlinks from genuine marketing activities are always good, such as your business profile, in-article citations, webinar links, etc. 

Do Keyword Research Regularly

Some businesses think doing keyword research once is enough. Others write about anything they want without research. And while you can create content without conducting keyword research and still get traffic, it’s not ideal. Why? 

That’s because keyword research ensures you’re writing about topics that interest enough people—particularly those who may need your product or service and can pay for it.

In addition, keyword trends change. The search terms you found before may lose traction over time in terms of consumer interest. New search terms also emerge every day, and you can’t discover them without research.

So it’s best to perform keyword research regularly, even before you exhaust your search terms list.

Think Long-Term And Thrive

Approaching SEO with long-term thinking is essential because it can ensure your hard work will yield results well into the future. 

You won’t have to worry about losing too much traffic because of algorithm changes. If anything, you’ll likely be in a position to benefit from those changes. 

Businesses that don’t use sustainable SEO practices can lose rankings almost as fast as they achieve top positions. 

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