SEO is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to connect directly with environmentally-conscious consumers online. 
Targeting the right keywords — words and phrases commonly used in search engine queries! — can bring prospective customers directly to your website, without any kind of paid promotion or time-intensive social media marketing. In the long run, good SEO will help your sustainable brand build trust and credibility. 
 
But is SEO truly ethical? And how can you make it work for your brand? 

SEO and Your Ethical Brand 

When it comes to ethics, SEO sometimes gets a bad rep — and sometimes deservedly so! 
 
At the extreme end, tactics can be spammy and outright misleading. Even commonly used tactics have ethical implictions — targeting popular keywords not strictly aligned with your brand, for instance, just wastes people's time, and has implications for your brand's digital carbon footprint
 
But if you put ethics front and centre, your SEO strategy can answer the biggest questions your target audience is asking online and promote a positive user experience. It can even lessen your website's environmental impact... a faster-loading website, for example, uses less energy and rates highly with search engines. (Check out my post on green SEO strategy for more on this!) 

SEO strategies for Your Purpose-led Brand 

Keyword Research 

The first step to effective SEO, is finding the right keywords to help you connect to conscious consumers looking for your sustainable products and services. There are many different tools — free and paid for —to help you do this.  
 
The first keyword on your list should always be the name of your brand! From here, it's a good idea to start out focusing on keywords with medium levels of traffic... It's easier to rank for these keywords and when you do, they give you greater visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs).  
 
Once again, make sure your keywords are a good fit for your content — this is essential for user experience and your sales conversion rate. 

Keyword Placement 

Once you’ve found the right keywords, the next question is where to put them on the page. Some places to consider include headings, subheadings and URLs... plus try to scatter them throughout the body of writing, in a way that feels natural. 
 
Alt Text — the verbal description of an image on the page — can be a great place to add keywords. But never forget that many visually impaired site users rely on these descriptions to understand images... this purpose always comes first. 
 
And a warning on keyword stuffing — i.e., stuffing your webpage full of keywords to boost your search rankings. This tactic is penalised by search engines — it also just leads to bad writing, which really matters in SEO.  

Local SEO 

For many smaller ethical businesses, your target customers are your local community. But even if you're an ecommerce brand, your location is still a part of you and it’s always worth tapping into localised searches. 
 
So, target location-based keywords and consider creating Google My Business listings to appear in local search results. As well as helping people find you, this also attracts positive customer reviews. 

Link Building 

For long-term credibility online, you need backlinks — this is where other reputable web pages include links to your page. 
 
Backlinks grow naturally over time, but proactive link building will speed things up through collaboration with other trusted brands and commentators. 
 
Tactics include: - 
 
Guestblogging, or inviting others to guestblog on your website 
Simply asking third parties you respect, to add links to your webpage 
 
Stuff like this takes many people out of their comfort zones... you may also be questioning the ethics of these tactics. But I'm here to tell you that link-building is fully compatible with your brand's values, if you approach it in the right way.  
 
As a purpose-led brand, you are part of a movement, and building connections with like-minded individuals and organisations only makes you all stronger. Just do your research carefully, and only collaborate with people and organisations whose values align perfectly with your own.  

Mobile Optimisation for Good SEO 

As consumers increasingly do most of their online searches on phones, mobile optimisation is essential for good SEO. So, make sure your website is as appealing and navigable on a mobile as it is on a laptop or tablet. 

One Thing is Non-Negotiable... 

You can have the world's most technically and visually perfect website and use every (ethical :-)) SEO hack in the book... but ultimately, the success of your SEO strategy lives and dies on the quality of your written content. Sorry... but it's true! 
 
That means creating engaging, helpful blogposts and articles and Home and 'About' pages that tell your story and forge connections. Your written content is the heart and soul of your brand... it's the thing that keeps people reading, the thing they remember and the thing that brings them back again. 

Still Reading This? 

Then I must be doing something right, hey? :-) 
 
As an experienced copywriter and marketer, I am passionate about supporting ethical businesses like yours. I’m always here to sound out ideas, and give out free advice to get you started! 
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