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Explaining SEO to Businesses Owners: Five Great Analogies

Jul 06

Every day, some of the best search engine optimization firms on the planet answer questions from business owners about search engine optimization. Most of these discussions include explanations about “on-page” optimization and “off-page” optimization. SEO typically involves a line-by-line inspection of website content and its coding. Of course, off-page SEO will always involve some form of linking. In other words, the way the rest of the Internet relates back to your website. As of this writing, successful campaigns usually include direct and indirect back-linking, social media participation and citations from trusted websites.

Web design is still very much a “design driven” industry, and as such, design choices can often have a negative impact on SEO. This is because design is about the look and feel of a website, not the rank or position on the search engines. So we in the website design industry often find ourselves trying to simplify online marketing methods to prospective clients that have limited knowledge on the subject.

It takes at least three different types of talent to create an SEO-friendly site. You need a great designer that can deliver an outstanding design. To stand out in the market place, a company needs a unique design that will make an instant impression. Second, you also need a skilled website developer that can take the creative design files and convert them into best practices computer code. The third is the SEO expert. Your partner needs to be able to analyze the user search data and work with the programmer incorporate the strategy into to first line of code.

In practice, however, the designers still drive the entire process. When this happens, the company gets a great looking new site that is hacked together on the back-end. These sites almost never get search engine rank for competitive search terms. The client company then searches for Internet marketing assistance, but the new consultants start at a disadvantage because they have to try and rank a site that is poorly structured and coded.

Then the company gets the bad news: they have to re-code the new website from scratch to get search engine rank – which is what motivated the company to re-develop the site in the first place! As SEO’s we need to be able to explain in clear and simple terms why brand new (and often costly) websites do not rank. The following are some popular anecdotes that have been used by a leading Kansas City web design company:

1. Professional Racing: This is a favorite SEO analogy and may be among the best out there. To do well at SEO, you need to have an optimized website that is well structured and has best practices “on page” optimization. Your site is the race car. No matter how fast your car is, it can’t drive itself. You need a talented driver and a pit crew to compete. A great driver cannot win with a marginal car, and a weak driver cannot win with a the most advanced race car. This is a perfect analogy for web design – you need a great driver and a great car to win the race, just like you need a great website and a great SEO partner to conquer mount Google. Where this analogy falls short is that with Google and the other major search engines, the race never ends. You need an ongoing effort to always stay ahead of your competition.

2. Home Building: Another great analogy. The web design process is a lot like working with an architect. This is the time when the blueprints can be easily be changed and updated. Once the construction plans are approved and the concrete foundation is poured, it becomes very difficult to moved a wall or change the floor plan. Web development is the same way. Designers can manipulate digital artwork quickly. Once the design is committed to the coding process, however, many design and layout changes can be difficult and time consuming to modify. In terms of search engine optimization, the home building process is similar to the role of the home builder and city inspectors. In web design, the search engine optimizer should be managing the design and development stages so that the site is constructed with the end goal of looking great and ranking as highly as possible.

3. Sharp Shooters: Similar to race car driving, this analogy pairs the best equipment with the best operator to achieve the best results. A firearm cannot aim and fire itself and a sharp shooter needs a world class weapon to achieve the highest accuracy.

4. Landscaping: The landscaping analogy is a great one for SEO in particular, because it plays into the nature of it as an ongoing strategy. Just like search engine optimization, you need a landscape design plan and a lot of upfront effort to prepare, grade and prep for planting. In most cases, a newly landscaped property will not have the same aesthetic value as a property that has a properly maintained, mature landscape. SEO is the same – we work hard in the initial months, and most often this effort does not produce organic ranking results for weeks or months later. Further, just like landscaping, it takes ongoing effort to improve results.

5. Fishing: Second to the race car driving analogy, Fishing is one of our favorites on so many levels. The best angle to use for this analogy relates to net fishing. Think of recreational fishers in an area using chum and other luring techniques to draw fish into a body of water. Fishermen use specialized lures, bait and equipment to catch fish one-by-one. This is akin to traditional marketing where companies use mass marketing to target a relatively small group of potential buyers. In SEO, we call this: offline demand creation. As fishermen use all their fancy methods to attract fish, think of a commercial fishing vessel that comes by and scoops up all the fish. This is EXACTLY what SEO does. Consumers see the demand creation by companies on TV, print and radio…then then run to the Internet to research when they are actually ready to make a purchase decision. SEO, when done effectively, enables your company to steal this market share created by your competitors.

Next time you get stuck trying to explain the relationship between online marketing and web development, try using one of these analogies.

About the author: Kansas City Web Design is an Internet marketing and web development company based in Overland Park, KS. For more information on the author, visit: www.Kansas-City-Website-Design.com

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