The Humanitarian Potential of SEO

In a recent moment of introspection, I found myself sifting through projects from the last few years, returning again and again to a single question:

What is the best possible application of my skillset?

In many ways it’s a simple question — in fact, it almost seems answerable by a quiet mantra of the SEO community: The best clients are the clients that act, the clients that revel in creative solutions, the clients that embrace new ideas and don’t hold you back from implementing elegant initiatives.

Except that this wasn’t the answer at all. Not for me anyway.

No, it wasn’t until my better half weighed in (as is often the case) that I became aware of my own tunnel vision. I’d gotten so lost in the idea of sexy startups and shiny brands that I’d overlooked something very important — that there are millions of people performing searches every day in an effort to improve their lot in life and better understand their world. And often, though what these people seek may exist on the web, they will not find it.

Because the resources they want aren’t readily findable.

And therein lies the humanitarian potential in SEO: to make sure that resources with the potential to uplift humanity can be found by those who need them.

So that when a child wonders “What do red blood cells do?” they might find their way their way to a lecture from Khan Academy.

So that a woman unsure of her reproductive rights can find her way to a non-partisan, factual explanation of them.

So that a grandfather performing the search “report elder abuse” finds the phone number he needs on the first try.

This is information accessibility, an application of SEO I’m embarrassed to say I’d never considered until recently, but you can be damn sure it’s not an application I’ll soon forget.

So if you’re reading this and you’re part of a company that’s working to make the world a better place (non-profit, startup or otherwise), consider this my offer of help. Drop me a line and I’ll work with your team to make sure your resources can be found by the people who need them.

I’m just one guy, and I have little doubt that I’ll receive more requests than I can reasonably fulfill, but I’ll do what I can, and that’s start.

Who knows? The SEO world is full of intelligent, kind, and generous people — maybe some of them will take up the call as well.