SEO and Zen: Ranking without trying to Rank

Originally, our SEO strategy blog was my supposed to be our team’s research checklist for our SEO research team. We used it to essentially be an online notepad that contained a universal theme of our ongoing research projects. Now, the blog is ranking well for search terms like, “SEO strategy Orange County” (first page of Google) and other related search terms. I was astounded when I found the blog was ranking on the first page for a few other quality search terms as well. So, how can this happen? We never intended for this blog to rank high for competitive, highly sought after first page placements on Google. A review of these factors might shed light on what elements caused this blog rank high with no traditional SEO technique applied to it.

The fact is that this blog was never intended to be seen by anyone but a small group of SEO professionals sharing findings and asking questions. The notes that we made there are research notes regarding SEO elements that relate to some current clients of mine as well as holistic concepts about Twitter, local map optimization, and new types of domain names that deal with the Trust Rank. The notes are raw and free of any referencing elements or links that might promote another web site with the exception of an RSS feed that we (our team) read to learn more about social media as it relates to SEO.

So, here is the Zen: The blog ranked high for competitive search terms without implementing techniques that are associated with website promotion such as high page rank article submissions, meta tag optimization, or changes to anchor tags/text. Why? That is the question. The answer is in the following qualities of this blog:

1. This blog had no intent to promote or reference anything. In a total of 10 posts, it has only 2 outbound links. What does that mean? Every other promotional blog makes references via links so they are designed to rank well on Google almost always has a specific “acceptable ratio” of keywords to links. Thus, those blogs are easy for Google to identify as “referencing” or “promoting” blogs as opposed to blogs that are not trying to “game the system” but be a quality information source.

2. There are no ad feeds in this blog. Once again, this blog appears as though it’s not manipulating search engines to attempt to rank high. It just sits here and grows. Content just builds with no outbound linking or other promotional references.

3. No ad feeds are found in this blog. No Adsense, banners, or other ads are feeding into the blog in question.

4. For the purpose of simply having a short and easy remember place for the blog rather than the cumbersome Blogspot domain, we bought a simple domain name. This is theory, as most predictions about search engine ranking preferences are, but we have other Blogspot blogs that are stuck in the sand box that have good content. The domain name purchase may have given this page a small vote of confidence because we made a small investment in creating a home for this lonely little blog.

5. The domain name is relevant to the topic. This appears to help rank the blog well; however, with so many other domain names with the same words included in them, it can only be a small factor.

In the end, SEO strategists are searching in the dark for Google’s philosophy. The philosophy is taught to us through the ranking of the pages we watch and change. So what has this taught me a about Google’s philosophy? Create sincere value without much promotion and advertising and users will like the page so the page may rank higher as a result. This is congruent with Google’s mission of making the user the highest priority of their service. Create a page with the intent to promote and it is likely to be treated with a greater degree of scrutiny without the liberal application of better ranking (not Page Rank – note this is a PR 0 that has some first page placements).

So, what does this have to do with Zen in the Art of SEO? If you want to promote, don’t promote – grasshopper.

About the Author

Larry Welkinson review SEO Strategy, Techniques, and Scams.