When people refer to “organic SEO” (search engine optimization), they almost always use it as a blanket term to describe the unpaid, algorithm-driven results of any particular engine. However, a sophisticated search engine optimization company will often take the meaning of “organic” one step further. To such companies, the description of “organic by link” is not to limited what shows up in the “natural” search engine results – it includes the methodologies used to achieve such rankings.
There’s more than one way to skin a cat (although I must admit that I don’t know the one way that everyone else presumably knows), and the same is true for achieving natural search engine results. A search engine optimization company usually falls into one of two camps. A “White Hat” search engine optimization company will use a largely content-based approach and will not violate the terms of service of the major search engines.
A “Black Hat” search engine optimization company will use a largely technology driven approach and often ignore the terms of service. Neither approach is invalid (as I have said many times before, there is nothing illegal about violating a search engine’s terms of service), and both can achieve high rankings. But a search engine optimization company that takes the word “organic” literally believes that the “Black Hat” approach is anything but “organic SEO.”
Merriam Webster defines organic, in part, as “having the characteristics of an organism: developing in the manner of a living plant or animal.” To a search engine optimization company, this definition accurately describes the approach taken to achieve long-lasting results in the “natural” section of search engines.
Below are just a few comparisons of the different approaches taken by the two types of SEO firms. I refer to the two approaches as “organic SEO” and “artificial SEO” for the sake of clarity.
There’s an “old” saying in the SEO industry that “content is king.” This is not necessarily true. In my experience, good content is king. Study after study has shown that when people use search engines, they are primarily seeking one thing: information. They are not seeking to be impressed by fancy flash sites. They are not looking for a virtual piece of art. A search engine optimization company that is truly practicing “organic SEO” recognizes this fact and will refuse SEO work when prospects insist that content addition is not an option.
“Artificial SEO” firms, which embrace a technical loophole philosophy, will allow a company to leave its website exactly as it is, because the work that such firms do is largely technical and is designed to trick the engine into showing content that it would not otherwise. Certainly, there are acceptable (from the engine’s standpoint) technical aspects that any good search engine optimization company will use, such as relevant page titles and meta tags. But there are many more unacceptable technical methodologies than acceptable ones, including cloaking, redirects, multiple sites, keyphrase stuffing, hidden links, and numerous others. A company practicing “organic SEO” will avoid these.
As any search engine optimization company knows, inbound links are critical to the success of an “organic SEO” campaign. But there are different ways to go about it. Firms that practice true “organic SEO” will look at the website itself and say “How can we make this site something that other sites would want to link to?” A search engine optimization company using “artificial SEO” will ask, “How can I get links pointing to this site without adding anything of value to it?” The latter approach usually leads to reciprocal linking schemes, link farms, the purchase of text links, and more – anything save for making changes to the website that entice others to link to the site without the link being reciprocated, without paying the website owner, or without asking “pretty please.”