You’ll notice I talked pretty much exclusively about Google in the last post. That wasn’t an accident. For most people who spend any time thinking about SEO, SEO is Google. 
Google still holds over 85% of the market share. It also has the most recognised and comprehensive armoury of SEO tools out there – including Google Analytics, Google Search Console and Google Trends. And while there’s elements of wizardry, its algorithms are primarily geared towards promoting content that's helpful, relevant and user friendly.  
If you’re a marketing professional, or an entrepreneur trying to build up your brand, Google's guidelines and algorithms are probably your bible. 

So, why wouldn’t you use Google for SEO? 

If your brand's core USP is its high ethical standards, Google raises issues – the massive elephant in the corner being user privacy. (More on this is in the next blogpost.) Over recent years, Google has faced significant backlash and legal repercussions over alleged privacy breaches. Back in 2022, it was ordered to pay an unprecedented $391.5m over violations across 40 US states. In an ongoing dispute, it was recently alleged Google's ‘privacy’ button doesn’t work
Google’s monopoly status, alone, is problematic – it's literally being sued right now because of it. In his study of “digital democracy”, Professor Christian Fuchs argues the Big Tech business model is anti-democratic to its core. Google has an unprecedented ability to shape and control public opinion on a global scale and accusations of algorithm bias have been flying in from every direction (as I touched upon in the previous blogpost).  
And whatever your views on individual accusations, this is an issue hiding in plain sight. There are documented cases of YouTube and Facebook algorithms pushing users towards extremism. (If you're interested in falling all the way down this rabbit hole, Daily Beast journalist Kelly Weill has some fantastic discussion on the issue in her book about the flat earth conspiracy theory!). To be clear – this isn't specifically a 'Google' problem. It's a deeper question about who or what curates the information that shapes the way we see the world around us. One crucial way we can all challenge the Big Tech issue is by backing disruptor brands. 


But how do you do SEO without Google? 

First of all, this is not a judgment on anyone using Google. Avoiding Google in the 21st century is like avoiding concrete. Or gluten. We’re all trying to do our imperfect best – myself included! :-)  
If you are wondering how to minimise Google, or phase it out altogether, my first word for you is Ecosia. (Yes, I’m biased. No, they’re not paying me!) 
Germany’s first ever B Corp, Ecosia is dedicated to supporting climate action, with 80% of its search ad profits spent on planting trees. It only works with partners planting native trees, and also invests in protecting the trees they have planted. 
Just to reinforce its eco credentials, Ecosia adds a green leaf or a fossil fuel icon next to certain websites to encourage users to consider the impact of different brands… good and bad. Features like this make Ecosia hugely appealing to any sustainable brand, because the type of searchers it attracts are more likely to be interested in ethcial, sustainable brands.  
Ecosia is already available on leading web browsers, including Google Chrome and Safari for iOS 14. It’s also mobile friendly with all the main features you’d expect from a mobile web browsers – including tabs, incognito mode, bookmarks, history and downloads.  

Google vs Ecosia: SEO’s Digital Carbon Footprint 

As you may recall from the previous blogpost, digital carbon footprints are real. (Hang in there for the final blogpost of the series where I’ll take this apart in alarming detail!). Alongside your website’s carbon footprint, an estimated 0.2 grams of carbon is released with every online search
It's hard to build a clear comparison of search engines' true carbon footprints, as the information available is not fully comprehensive. Ecosia is unique, though, because its entire business model is focused on climate action. It has also built its own solar plants, which not only power its servers, but actually produce a surplus of green energy. This, alongside its tree-planting initiative, Ecosia argues, makes it not just carbon neutral, but carbon negative
On the other hand, Ecosia's search results are powered by Bing, which is behind Google in its net zero journey. Google has garnered a reputation for being ahead of the game in this. It's been carbon-neutral since 2007, has used carbon neutral servers since 2017 and announced in 2020, that its carbon footprint had hit zero. 
But, as Ecosia itself points out, if a business of Google's size followed the Ecosia model and reinvested profits into climate action, the positive impact created could be game-changing. 

Google vs Ecosia: SEO and User Privacy 

As I’ve referenced above, Google has repeatedly come under fire for breaching user privacy. 
Though it doesn't touch DuckDuckGo, Ecosia’s privacy policy holds up pretty well against most search engines.  
Each search is securely encrypted. Though Ecosia uses its own tracking tool to optimise services, it won’t use your data to create personal profiles or store searches for more than a week. No data collected is sold to advertisers and it doesn’t use third party tracking tools. All of this means no one else can access your search data. Users can even opt out entirely by using Ecosia’s Do Not Track feature
All of this puts Ecosia far ahead of both Google and Bing, when it comes to data security.  

Google vs Ecosia: SEO and Financial Transparency 

The sheer size and complexity of a business like Google's can make it hard to get a complete picture of what's going on inside and Google's finances can be somewhat opaque. To give you just a flavour, its ongoing antitrust dispute in the US revealed Google paid $26.3 billion to be the default search engine on browsers, phones and platforms, including Apple, Samsung and Mozilla, back in 2021. 
Ecosia publishes its full monthly financial reports online – this means you can check up, in real time, whether it really is spending 80% of profits on tree-planting. To date, commentators have agreed the figures add up
SEO and the double-edged sword of Monopolies 
Alongside many other differences, Ecosia is, decidedly, not a monopoly. This is great, from an ethics perspective – but it’s something of a handicap when it comes to SEO. As I mentioned earlier, Google still has 85% of the overall search engine market – more critically, it has 95% of the mobile search market. Ecosia holds just 0.11% of the search engine market. It's not hard to do the maths when it comes to which search engine is going to put more eyes on your website. 
In this light – is this a straight choice between deep visibility and ethics? 
On the plus side, a smaller search engine like Ecosia will offer greater visibility. And, as I mentioned earlier, this bodes well if you're an ethical brand – because Ecosia users are more likely to be aligned with your values.  
SEO Pro Tip: Where Does Your Traffic Come From – Ecosia or Google? 
Whichever analytics tool you use (more on this next time!) take a look to see how much traffic you get from Ecosia. If it loads, great work! If not, maybe take some time to find out why? 
So, Should You Focus Your SEO on Ecosia or Google? 
For my own searches, I use Ecosia exclusively. It aligns with my values, it offers exceptional transparency, and the more people use it, the more powerful it becomes. 
From an SEO stance, I personally recommend optimising for Ecosia and Google. 
This way, you don’t compromise your reach, but you’re still supporting Ecosia and empowering its users. As the algorithms it uses are less sophisticated than Google's – I’d recommend optimising for Google first and then tweaking slightly for Ecosia. I honestly wouldn't recommend doing anything that could negatively impact your Google rankings.  
Doing SEO, the Ecosia way 
The great news is SEO is mostly very similar for Google and Ecosia. Both search engines prioritise websites that are easy to crawl with readable content. They particularly rate: 
• Trustworthy sites with good authority (remember to EEAT from the last post) 
• Clear and readable content that’s genuinely relevant and useful 
• Websites that run quickly and are easy to access and navigate (creating 301 redirects for pages that no longer exist is a big bonus here) 
• Quality backlinks from established, relevant websites 
Beyond this, here are a few tips to optimise for Ecosia, without hurting your Google rankings. 
Use exact keywords 
Google’s advanced algorithms mean you no longer need to get the word or phrase spot on. For Ecosia, you need the right keywords in the right places. 
Step one: choose one focus keyword and one to two synonyms on each page. 
Step two: use your exact focus keyword in your title (H1 tag), subheadings (H2 tags), SEO title and the first 100 words of your copy.  
Step three: craft an interesting, on-point meta description/title for one of your images that includes your focus keyword. 
Step four: use your keyword synonyms throughout the page to add variety – but only if this is natural and improves the quality of the content. 
(A Note on keyword stuffing) 
As Part One of this Blog Series explains, keyword stuffing violates search engine guidelines and can push your content down in the rankings. It also just makes everything less readable – which sort of makes SEO itself a little bit pointless. 
Think of SEO as a door you’ve got to unlock to reach the audience your brand deserves. Hitting number one in the search results is only half the battle. Once you've got people's attention, you need to get them hooked. And nobody wants to read page after page of poorly written content repeating the same word over and over. (And by the way – do you think I've said “SEO” enough times yet?? :-)) 

Getting your socials in order 

Google no longer considers how widely content is shared on social media – Ecosia does. This is a great incentive to get your own social media channels in order – because getting your content trending on different channels is a lot easier when you have a presence there yourself. As a bare minimum, you should add content that’s likely to do well on social media and optimise it for easy sharing across the most appropriate channels for your brand. 

A Final Word On SEO for Ecosia 

There's a lot more to SEO – but the above optimisations will help Ecosia and Google understand and rank your content in its search results. 
As always, the best SEO strategy is creating useful, easy-to-read content that genuinely answers your customers’ queries – whatever search engine they’re using. Your content needs to engage and tell your story in a way that resonates with your target readership. Once you master this, a lot of other things relating to SEO will fall easily into place. 

Still Need More Advice on How to Build an Ethical SEO Strategy That Packs a Punch? 

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