Picturing Web SEO: A Better Metaphor
I used to think that website SEO was a blend of art, science, and magic. I’d even say “to know SEO you’d have to be part Monet, Mr. Spock, and Harry Potter” because it made me laugh due to the imagery those characters evoke and it fit the narrative. As I go further down the rabbit hole learning search engine optimization, I’ve developed another more appropriate metaphor: To be real effective at SEO one has to be part Saul Goodman, part Scotty from Star Trek, and finally, part Barbara Corcoran of Shark Tank.
You have to be like “Better Call Saul‘s” Goodman because SEO often involves figuring out ways to best your (or your client’s) competitors. If you’ve seen the show you know that Saul Goodman isn’t just a strip-mall shady lawyer, but someone who is very clever in figuring out ways to win. A good digital marketer skilled in SEO can be just as cunning. There are a slew of digital tools to find out all kinds of information about what your competitors are doing online and a good SEO pro knows how to use them. This isn’t even going into the “black hat SEO” realm, which really isn’t necessary or worth the Google penalty box if discovered.
The other two characters took me so thought before I could plug them into the metaphor. I picked Scotty, because you have to be a technical engineer in many ways to set your SEO up correctly to work. You know that Captain Kirk would say “Scotty, I need more power!”, and somehow Scotty would always do something in engineering to pull it off. Kirk never know what or how he did it, but it just worked in the end. A good SEOer may not tell you all the “inside baseball” technical stuff, but will set your site up for the myriad of configurations to get it discovered with a search.
Finally, after thinking a long time about this, I picked Barbera Corcoran because she is a marketing wiz that knows what and how people want to buy. This is perhaps the least understood, and often not considered part of SEO, and why so many firms fail at getting results. You see it’s not just the technical stuff, which clearly you need, but you really have to understand human nature, buying behavior, marketing, and sales. For the record, I entertained adding some kind of psychologist like Freud, or Dr. Joyce Brothers, but it doesn’t quite work because there is no sales or marketing there. I even thought about Gene Simmons from KISS, because he’s a pure showman, but that leaves out understanding the buying pattern of consumers so it’s not exactly working.
I also realized upon thinking about this that that’s exactly why companies are so bad at their SEO. They hire folks who only sell them the technical “dashboard” backend SEO side, or may even add some of the off-page optimization tricks to outrank a few competitors, but it seems so many forget about Barbera. A good SEO company will ask you about your customer avatar and will dive deep to really understand your customer and what would motivate them to click to your site. I’ve learned that with SEO there are so many facets that are seemingly not related, but are intimately so. It’s not just submitting robot.txt files and sitemaps, but also influence marketing incorporating concepts like scarcity, social proof, authority, and consensus. There is no magic machine button or simple plugin to get you great online results unless you incorporate the American buying habits that someone like Barbera clearly understands, and so should your SEO partner.
“It’s not just showing up in a search result, but getting people to click on your link”
If you have a better suggestion or other characters, I’d love to hear it, so leave it in your comments below.