Posted October 30, 2006 10:30 am by with 40 comments

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By Steven Bradley

Yep karma. Not the spiritual “Law of Karmaâ€? central to Eastern Philosophy, but the Americanized version of karma practiced by Earl Hickey every Thursday night. Do good things and good things happen. That’s really all it takes to succeed as an SEO. Karma. And maybe a little hard work.

“Ok you new age hippie freak. I’ll bite. How is karma supposed to help my site get more search traffic?”

By building a website that’s useful and usable. Give people something they want and give it to them for free. Maybe it’s information or some web tool that makes someone’s life easier. Give away something entertaining. You’ve been dying to star in a video anyway. Just make it something of value. Add to the web instead of creating more noise. That’s all good wouldn’t you say? Create something of value. Do good things.

A funny thing happens when you create something useful and give it away. People like it. They like your content, they like your site, and they like you. They like it so much they tell their friends about it. If they have a website they link to your useful content so everyone else can see how helpful it is.

Know what else? Because you didn’t try to manipulate them, the search engines like you too. They like that you didn’t try to stuff or hide keywords everywhere and have given them something relevant to a query. They’ll like you so much they’ll return your pages for semantically related queries. All that natural writing was good. MSN might not care that much, but when has Microsoft been accused of doing good. They don’t get karma. But they will like those links you’ve gained. Google will like it. They tell us they don’t do evil, which isn’t exactly the same as doing good, but it’s close.

Want to know another way karma can help? You can participate in the community that is the web and do good there too. Answer questions people leave on forums or join in the conversation on industry blogs. The relationships you build with your helpful advice will have karma taking notice. Relationships with people in your industry who’ll thank you with relevant links. Search engines really like when you help topical communities I guess. Shows them how good you are and how much this karma thing is part of you.

As you help more people they’ll introduce you to even more people, who’ll introduce you to even more people. Pretty soon all those people will come to see you as an expert, as an authority in your field. All the other authorities will get curious about you and check you out. “Who is this new expert come to join our rank?” Your genuine offering of good advice shows you worthy of gaining membership in their inner circle of influence.

Still want more? Know those clients you helped with your services and products. You did a good job, right? And gave them value in return for the money they spent? Those clients are happy with you and will send more clients your way. Some of them have websites too, and will throw a few links your way for good measure.

All joking aside if you thought any of the above was mildly amusing and continuing on if you didn’t, it really is true that doing good is successful SEO. We all know it boils down to content and links. The first one gets you the second and the second drives search traffic to the first. Doing good stuff is about building a reputation and a brand. It’s about creating something link worthy that builds links naturally. That good stuff is about building contacts within the social structure of the web. Contacts that will provide links and help seed your viral campaign.

That good is creating value so when people find you they have a reason to trust you. Good by building a site that loaded quickly and provided a positive experience. The people who’s trust you’ve earned are much more likely to hand over their credit card information and write testimonials and positive reviews all over the web. More links and more reputation for you.

That good information you left does lead people to stay on your site longer and revisit more often. It will leave traffic patterns that prove to show search engines you haven’t just figured out how to game their algorithms. It’ll show them they can trust your site when they recommend it in search results.

Sure, karma isn’t the only path to success and sometimes it can take a painfully long time getting back to you. But it can return to you a lot more than you have to put in. And what it gives back has a tendency to last. It may take a little while to get that karmic momentum moving in your favor, but once it is it will push, pull, and drag you along with it. And all you had to do was genuinely offer something of value to the world and help those you came in contact with. That and some hard work to get it all done.

[The above article is a submission for Marketing Pilgrim’s Search Engine Marketing Scholarship Contest. Each Monday in October, entries will be published and the most popular article of the week will qualify for the $5,000 grand prize. If you’d like to submit an entry, please view the contest entry-requirements and guidelines.]