As a marketing company that deals in web development and SEO, we often find ourselves hitting the same roadblocks when attempting to explain how search engine optimization works in the year 2014. Most of our clients don’t have the knowledge base necessary or have been misled by old, outdated information. Every digital marketing company in existence can probably relate to this.
When trying to explain something complex to a newcomer, it helps to have a visual metaphor. SEO is an intimidating concept, after all. Just the phrase “search engine optimization” makes a lot of eyes glaze over. With this in mind, we created a small infographic to help explain some of the important concepts of SEO.
We borrowed the model of the “water cycle,” which shows how evaporation combined with the rising of hot air and falling of cold air in a continuous cycle creates condensation, cloud formation, and rain – which nourishes plants and allows life to flourish. In our infographic, the cycle is powered by strong, SEO-friendly web design, which is represented by the sun. Once you have that, a regular flow of content distributed through social media platforms fuels the cycle that gets you better rankings on search engines. When more people are led to your website through your content and spread that content around through social media mentions and quality links, it makes your website look more valuable and trustworthy to the search engines, which reward you with better rankings. With better rankings, more people find your website through organic search and further spread your name around.
This cycle is a slow process that feeds the growth of your online presence and gains momentum over time. The point of the visual is to send home the idea that SEO is not like planting a full-grown flower in the ground. You start with a seed and then you have to nurture it until it grows into something appealing enough to sit at the top of the SERPs. If you neglect it, it will stop growing, and can even wither and die.
The soil beneath the flower represents the “deep web,” where all the web pages that search engines don’t recognize reside. This represents the vast majority of web pages. What a lot of people don’t realize is that it takes on-page optimization and content (sunlight and water) to get a search engine to index a web page (or, in this metaphor, to get the seed to sprout and grow out of the soil).
And, of course, the root of any good website is a well thought out strategy with specifically defined goals based on the purpose of the site and the needs of the business or individual it represents. The better the planning, the stronger and deeper the “roots.”
Feel free to pass this infographic around. Our hope is that it will help many people to better understand the nurturing, time and work that goes into making a website that ranks well organically.