You know how it is, you’re in a situation and someone that you know (in my case my mother) who doesn’t really “do” the internet asks you what SEO is and how you do it. You get that feeling in the pit of your stomach that this is not going to be easy and you try to think of several analogies to explain what you do whilst trying to keep it simple – but you draw a blank.
Well, I have created the following list to help you out – and yes, this was because my mother asked me 4 times what SEO was!
Start off simple. When you type something in your search box, my job is to show your website on the 1st page. So if you are searching, for example, a “Blue Dorothy Perkins Dress”, my client’s website will be one of the first results you see.
At this point she asked if “by search box, do you mean Facebook”. Yes, FB’s corruptive reach is far and wide and my 52 year old, computer illiterate mother is on Facebook; Time for number 2.
A slightly more serious one that always gets an “Ahhh, I get it”. Simply explain that you are like a mechanic in the respect that to make a car go faster and perform better on the road they have to work on the engine under the bonnet (hood for the Americans) to tweak it, strip it and optimise it’s performance and that’s just what you do with websites. If she starts asking how you do that, simply say “Read a Haynes Manual”, chuckle and walk away – quickly!
Sometimes you just have to play the “It’s Voodoo” card. She finally gets that you search for something via a search engine and you make a site appear in front of her – but then she asks how. Make it sound like a mysterious art and you couldn’t possibly tell her how you get a website to appear on the 1st page of Google and start mumbling “Yama Yama Yama Yaaamaaa”.
This one can work really well if you have had enough. I did this once over Christmas lunch when I had to explain SEO to her (again) but this time in the company of cousins, uncles, aunties, who all lived in a very rural town and had very little time for computers.
“Well, I take the words on a particular page on a website and optimise them for a targeted keyphrase. These are chosen using keyword research which identifies the largest volume of searches cross referenced with competition for the chosen keyword. Whilst optimising I look at several core factors including Title tags (the thing you see in the top left of you browser) – btw do you use IE or Firefox?”
At this point the eyes glaze over and you can safely wait a moment too long before someone changes the subject. Downside is, you look like a massive geek – but at least you get to eat your dinner in peace.
Obviously there are many great analogies out there for describing SEO, but sometimes you just can’t be bothered – especially after a day hammering out SEO advice.