The world of SEO is mysterious to many who aren’t in-the-know so I thought it’d be appropriate to provide a simplified comparison to explain the fundamentals. Here’s why search engines and SEO are just like high school kids and what you can learn from it.
Popularity is everything
Regardless of how nice, smart, or talented your kid is, his/her social success in school depends only on one thing, friends. The same goes for search engines. Regardless of content quality (and don’t give me any, “but Panda” garbage), the link and social media popularity of a website or piece of content is (almost) everything in determining it's search visibility. No links/likes/pluses/etc. = no love from the Big Goog(le). To attain SEO success, get back to doing whichever questionable tactics earned you the title of prom queen in high school and make sure that your website earns the popularity which it deserves. After all, it was worth it back then…
Search engines are temperamental
Move a page, whhaaak. Server goes down, whhhaaaak. Forget to implement optimized title tags on your fancy new website, whaaaak. One minute you think you’re getting Google love, the next, Google has lost visibility of your content because your unsuspecting developer decided he wanted dashes in your URLs instead of underscores (because he thought it ‘looked better’!). Treat search engines like children and avoid simultaneous, large-scale changes. Follow the technical rules, implement large changes slowly and measure results before going ‘all-in’ (if possible). Just like dealing with children, change is ok, just not all at one time.
SE’s have one thing on their mind, food
High school kids live for their next meal and so do search engines. That's why you always hear the popular slogan, Content is King. In theory, search engines will eat just about anything you feed them, as long as (they think) it has value and is unique. Take advantage of this childish characteristic by creating a proverbial ice cream truck full of (unique) content and cranking that loud speaker next time the Google Monster comes around. Reward the Google Monster with a sweet treat and she may reward you with more traffic and hopefully, more business.
While we love them, we know that (most) are still slightly, well, dumb
Sure, we love our kids and think they smart, talented and will grow up to be president (is that even a desirable job anymore?). But we all know that, left to their own accord, most would never make it past their PlayStation in the morning. Same goes for search engines. After all, that’s why we’re still fiddling with title tags, heading tags, alt text and optimizing keyword anchor text to help them 'understand' our content.
In short, there is still a need for 'spelling out' our content for the SE's as they've yet to mature to have a reliable level of artificial intelligence. Need proof? Consider that most SEO’s wouldn’t have jobs if Google could figure it out all by itself. Like high school kids, search engines are getting smarter, but they still have a long way to go. Following programming best practices is the best way to deal with this childish characteristic.
That’s it. The key to good SEO- treat the search engines like children and hopefully they won’t bite, scream, cry, or worse yet, ignore you when you get old.