For a few months now when talking to clients and prospects, I have been comparing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to bodily fitness. The more I describe SEO in this way, the more the metaphor seems to fit. A few examples:
1. Just like your body, your web site needs to be “physically fit”. A long and successful life begins with being physically in shape and staying healthy – in short, taking care of yourself. Too many Americans fail to take care of their own bodies, and too many businesspeople fail to take care of their web sites. A web site that is left to languish won’t attract any new customers, nor will it help your existing business serve your customers better.
2. Without a strict plan and goals, you will likely not succeed. A diet and exercise plan starts with a goal, so you can tell if you are on the right path. For example, you might want to lose 10 pounds, or fit into that dress for the 25 year reunion. Or, you want 1,000 new visits to your web site this month and 2 new name accounts. How will you get there? How long do you have? How much time or budget will you be able to spend?
3. Just like getting into physical shape, SEO has no “magic bullet”. A reputable physician wouldn’t tell you “the secret” to getting your body into tip-top condition; he or she would give you many options. Diet, exercise, proper rest and avoiding tobacco are different methods, but none of those alone will keep you perfectly healthy. Similarly, marketing your web site via SEO is a set of best practices, painstaking research, content creation and many details that are custom for your situation. It isn’t magic, just hard work!
4. You can do a lot, a little, or in-between. If you aren’t happy about how you look or feel, you make choices about how much time and money you are able to invest. Do you cut all sugar from your diet, hit the gym 5 days a week and jog every night as well? Or do you just walk around the block after supper? The more you put into exercise, the more you get out of it. Same with SEO. Every little bit helps, but you need to get going.
5. Everyone is different. There are certain aspects to staying healthy that everyone should adhere to, but the way you do these things depends on many factors. Your goals, your age, history and many other factors come into play. Your web site SEO plan is just like that. Although there are some areas of proper SEO that apply to every situation, there is no “one size fits all” answer for the entire campaign. And, every campaign will have slightly different results.
6. Some things are outside of your control. Blame your genes or your lousy metabolism for the inability to shed those last 5 pounds! At the end of the day, sometimes you just have to accept certain things “as is”. As you begin to explore SEO, you will find that certain aspects about your site, your business and your markets just don’t fit the way you would like. And at the end of the day, the search engines do what they do. Nobody dictates how they work.
7. Stick with it. This is for the long-term. It seems painful at times, you might not like the process, but the rewards can be fantastic. Think how great you will look in that dress at the reunion. Think how great your site will be at the top of Google for that awesome key phrase!
So what are you waiting for? Get into the gym!