The economic storm that has raged for the last couple of years has left most industries cowering under shelter, as social unrest and tension continues to bubble up around the world. In the midst of all this, the SEO industry seems to stride through the chaos unharmed; growing healthily year on year.
During 2012 there were 9.1 million searches for terms related to SEO services, companies and tools. There were 13 million published blog posts with “SEO” in their titles all over the web and the mighty Amazon was stocking well over 2,696 books on the topic.
What this all means is profit, both for the marketeers and their clients when they see increased revenue from more traffic and more conversions. But is that it? SEO is, after all, not fundamentally about profit but is about increasing exposure and spreading messages (brand or otherwise), which can lead to future profits.
So, is it possible to harness the power of SEO for promoting good causes without profit as a motive?
English Disco Lovers vs. English Defence League
Our exploration of how SEO can be used in the cause of social justice and the general progressive evolution of the human race (a little hyperbolic perhaps, but you got to aim high haven’t you?) can start with a living, breathing example from the real world.
The English Disco Lovers are on a mission to reclaim the acronym ‘EDL’ from the English Defence League; the political group commonly considered xenophobic, nationalistic and generally unpleasant that has begun to establish a reputation for itself in recent years. The English Disco Lovers are attempting to do this through two principal forces; the pulsating power and inclusive ethos that we all know and love as disco, and the tools and techniques of SEO. The Disco EDL are beginning to get the social media presence required, they don’t have the content as of yet but they are getting there. If you’d like to help them, you can show your support.
The Disco EDL is not pursuing profit with their deployment of the tools of SEO, but it’s proving to be effective without the underlying profit motive. They have simply stumbled upon a humorous and clever way of trying to achieve a goal that a lot of people would agree with; in other words the ‘Holy Grail’ of internet marketing.
Some people may argue that the Disco EDL are trivialising an important issue in the ongoing battle against reactionary intolerance. This is an important point to consider: for a non-profit or serious cause to make an impact in the 21st century, does it have to trivialise its message to make it accessible and sharable?
Non-profit advantages of SEO
Perhaps unsurprisingly, we think the answer to the above question is ‘no.’ There are a number of ways SEO can help worthwhile social causes increase exposure:
- The causes will be easier to find for people that only partially remember your name from a conference, fund raising event or a mention in an article or other piece of content
- Traffic to the causes’ website will begin to include people who have come to your website unintentionally, thereby expanding your audience and your potential influence
- If the name of the cause or charity consistently pops up when other people from your sector are researching information, it will begin to assume the air of authority. This can be a great way of promoting partnerships and funding opportunities
- The recent shift of Google’s emphasis towards meaningful and useful content is a perfect opportunity for charities and other non-profits to establish themselves
- Likewise, the rise in the importance of relevancy can mean that specific campaigns that are tied to topical debates and talking points could get a real boost in promotion
Using SEO to make the world a better place
Hopefully we have gone some way here to dispelling the idea that the SEO and internet marketing industry is only about big companies making more money at the expense of smaller companies. Its fundamental principles – getting messages and ideas out to a wider audience – can be utilised by those groups who, like the Disco EDL, are trying to make the world a little better.English Disco Lovers Unite: Using SEO to Promote Good Causes by Colm Hebblethwaite