Time To Redefine “Organic ...


John Belushi asks the question (in my version of “Animal House”).

I’ve made this plea before.

But don’t listen to me (or John).

Rand Fishkin, one of the top SEO gurus in the country, supports this point in one of his white board videos. Check out this clip:


These words from Mr. Fishkin are particularly noteworthy:

“Instead, we have to earn those ranking signals. Because we’ve shifted from link building or ranking signal building to ranking signal earning, we’d better have people who will help amplify our message.”

Search Engine Watch published an article, “7 Directives to Help You Navigate the SEO Landscape of the Future.” Breaking down the piece, we again witness an uncanny resemblance to PR.

1. Google Wants “Quality,” But You Define the Threshold

Link building isn’t dead; it has evolved. Building links to your site still remains a crucial SEO activity. It is how you create these links that matters. Google wants you to earn these links …

The “e” word resurfaces. This concept of earned is new to the world of SEO. On the other hand, earned has underpinned PR since the invention of the profession.

2. Relationships Are the New “Add Link” Buttons

If you want to build backlinks, you need to build a relationship with various stakeholders. This includes influencers, brand advocates and your target consumers. If you really want to build high quality backlinks, you need to interact and engage with real people.

Sounds like public relations. We’re the relationship guys/gals.

3. Go Big or Go Home

Looking at SEO from a brand building prism will put things in perspective and also streamline your efforts. Ask questions like, “How will my optimization tactics benefit target customers?”

Not exactly sure what he means by “go big or go home,” but PR has a long history of brand building.

4. When It Comes to Keywords, Long Tails Will Take You Far

If SEO has still not lost its relevance, why would keyword research? It’s still as important as ever, although the spotlight is now on long-tail keywords, which have risen in prominence partially due to Google Hummingbird.

If you think about it, media relations was kind of a long-tail play before the term was invented.

5. UX Is the Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow

UX, including mobile, is super important for the success of your SEO efforts.

OK, this one might be a stretch to slot under the PR moniker. “Did you get my email?” doesn’t exactly enrich the journalist’s experience.

6. Your Brand Is Social

While Google has categorically denied social signals are a ranking factor, the importance of social in improving your business’s search rankings cannot be stressed enough. You create share-worthy content; ensure this content is easy to share; create social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook and other platforms; interact with people through these accounts; share links to your content and other curated pieces through your accounts.

Does this sound more like PR or SEO? Exactly.

7. Do Your Own Thing

The online world is saturated with content revolving around SEO and how you need to go about your optimization efforts. More content is being published every day. Your job is to sift through all this information, follow reputed blogs and thought leaders, and read/hear what they have to say.

Not only does PR sift through information, it creates original content.


It seems fair to say that Rand Fishkin and the Search Engine Watch article both make an argument for the term “earned search.”

This idea of “organic search” gives the illusion of a pristine process untouched by mankind when nothing could be further from the truth. It’s damn hard to create content that attracts an audience and moves others to share that content.

And why it’s time to say yes to “earned search” and the connection to PR.


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