Don’t let your lizard brain sabotage your SEO strategy

Table of Contents

    The lizard brain… We’ve all got one. Otherwise known as the Amygdala or Reptilian brain, it is a small section of our brain that is responsible for fear, anxiety, anger, survival and reproduction. It’s dubbed the lizard brain because this is in fact all a lizard has to keep itself alive, out of danger and therefore be able to reproduce offspring.

    amygdala lizard brain


    Students of psychology are well versed in how the lizard brain functions in a way that can actually stop humans from taking a risk or ‘having a go’ so to speak. For example, the lizard brain might stop a budding entrepreneur taking the leap into starting their own business due to the fear of financial ruin or other uncertainty.

    How the lizard brain impacts on your SEO strategy

    We SEOs and online marketers are to some extent, at the mercy of Google when it comes to setting the SEO strategy for our client’s websites. Various algorithm updates over recent years in an effort to crackdown on web spam has created an environment where a lot of us are afraid to implement legitimate marketing tactics in our strategies for fear of Google penalising us.

    It’s this very environment that our lizard brain thrives on. Remembering the amygdala wants us to remain safe, secure and survive. The lizard brain unfortunately breeds mediocrity. It craves the ordinary. It’s the safest option.

    The FUD surrounding guest blogging

    We’re all well aware of the article former head of Google’s Web Spam team, Matt Cutts wrote on the death of guest blogging last year. The piece whipped the SEO and content marketing communities into frenzy – fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) spread like wildfire. Cutts’ article was referenced thousands of times across the web. Here’s a look at how many times the blog post has been shared since publication:

    matt cutts death of guest blogging post social shares


    In Cutts’ defence, he did make a clarification that he thought not all guest blogging was bad, just the spammy stuff and I couldn’t agree more:

    matt cutts blog post addition

    Matt Cutts’ addition to his article on guest blogging

    The trouble is, by then, the horse had already bolted. The SEO’s lizard brain was at work, screaming at the tops of its lungs: “We have to stop writing guest posts – it’s no longer a safe tactic”.

    SEOs pitching content to web publishers are often met with polite declinations due to a fear of doing something wrong by Google. We can hardly blame the publishers. They are listening to their lizard brain screaming at them: “We can’t accept guest posts or we’ll get our site deindexed by Google.”

    High quality guest content contributions were lumped in the same category as article spun content spam when it was completely unfair to do so. Google recommends publishers apply a ’nofollow’ attribute to outbound links on any guest content, especially if it’s deemed an advertorial and label it ‘Sponsored Content’, too.

    If your content is overly promotional – then yes, it should be marked as advertorial – exactly like you see in the print world of magazines and newspapers.

    With risk should come reward

    We have to ask why links in guest content should be nofollowed as a standard requirement. If you’re writing for an authoritative blog related to your target market, and you’re producing something that is original, insightful, educational and engaging, you should be able to benefit from any associated trust signals that Google’s sends your way – be they links or otherwise.

    After all, if the blog post you write is a flop, it’s not going to earn any links or citations over the long term anyhow. There’s also a chance the publisher won’t welcome any new pieces you pitch. This encourages writers and publishers to produce a better class of content. With risk should come reward – take away any reward, you play to the mediocre lizard brain. Stifled of creativity and happy just to survive – not thrive.

    If Google was able to properly assess each link on its merits, their algorithms would know links from spammy guest blogging published at scale on irrelevant websites would carry less weight. There would be no need to target every guest blogger on the planet and say outbound links must not pass any link equity.

    Tame the lizard brain and start winning SEO

    This is no easy feat. And it’s something we battle with every day as online marketers and SEOs. Learn to tame the lizard brain so we can push past the FUD to see the long term payoff.

    High quality, engaging guest blogging is here to stay and it remains a valuable, effective marketing tactic. The challenge for us is to continually educate web publishers and clients this tactic is legitimate and if done right, mutually beneficial.

    If you need selling points for why high quality guest blogging should be in your SEO strategy, here are a few:

    1. Builds awareness and trust in your brand
    2. Positions you as an industry leader
    3. Potential for PR/News coverage
    4. Delivers leads and sales
    5. Tap into prospects at the very first stages of the buying cycle
    6. Targeted referral traffic
    7. Valuable link building tactic that builds Domain Authority (DA)

    Google wants to serve up the best websites for any given search query – this keeps users coming back to Google. It’s in their interests to rank authoritative sources, and if your guest post is the best result, it should be rewarded with a high search ranking. If your guest post earns natural links because it is insightful content, you should be rewarded ‘down the line’ with a boost to your own website.

    Practical tips for taming the lizard brain

    If you find yourself listening to the lizard brain should a fearful or uncomfortable situation arise, learning to recognise your next move can be made easier by utilise the STOP technique from sports psychologist, Tim Galleway:

    1. Step back a moment from action and emotion
    2. Think about the key components of the problem
    3. Organise your thoughts into a coherent idea
    4. Proceed with a plan with clear next steps

    Have you found yourself giving too much attention to the lizard brain? We’d love to hear about your story!

    Share this Article

    Read On

    Continue reading with these related posts:

    Google Search Console.

    Your 2021 Guide to Google Search Console

    If you have a beautifully designed website but aren’t really sure if it’s serving its...
    Free keyword search volume tools.

    5 Free Tools to Find Data on Keyword Search Volume

    The term ‘keyword search volume’ refers to the number of search queries for a specific...

    Latest Posts

    Picture of phone next to icons of social media marketing apps.

    The Top 5 Social Media Management Tools You Need To Grow Online

    Google Search Console.

    Your 2021 Guide to Google Search Console

    Free keyword search volume tools.

    5 Free Tools to Find Data on Keyword Search Volume