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9 SEO Analogies to Tell Your Client or Boss

Need help explaining SEO to people who don't fully understand SEO – like a client or your boss? Here are some great analogies you can use.

When you are doing SEO, how you communicate your SEO efforts can be just as important as actually doing them.

There is no shortage of ways that you can explain SEO.

But, explain it the wrong way, and your boss or client can get the wrong idea when you meant to explain something entirely differently.

Thankfully there are analogies that tackle some of the most complex topics in the space.

While I can talk about SEO and its analogies all day, I’m going to limit myself to some of the core elements of SEO that are a part of every SEO campaign, and that need to be done in order to be successful.

Otherwise, this would be one behemoth of an article.

Let’s look at some great analogies you can use to help distill SEO down to explanations that even the layperson can understand.

1. SEO Is Like a Box of Chocolates

SEO is like a box of chocolates

Far from the infamous movie quote – you know the quote I am referring too, right?

SEO is very much like a box of chocolates and can be even sweeter, depending on who you are.

Everyone loves chocolates. But, not everyone is in love with the idea of SEO.

What if we could make SEO much sweeter for anyone looking to understand a complex field of study?

Here are a few analogies that can do just that:

When you are explaining to someone the fruits of your labor and how it translates into results, an example analogy using chocolates could be:

“Imagine that https:// migrations, content, links, and on-going site audits are like a box of chocolates. On their own, they may not be sweet enough to produce results. But, when you combine them together, they can be very powerful SEO sweeteners.”

“You wouldn’t use chocolates and broccoli together right? You wouldn’t use chocolates and rice together, right? Just like rice and broccoli not going together with chocolates, our current direction is just like the rice and broccoli. Now, if we replace the rice and broccoli with strawberries or raspberries – the chocolate is just perfect. This is akin to replacing bad content with good content and bad links with great links.”

“SEO is like a box of chocolate. You have your https:// secure implementations (rich dark chocolate), great content (chocolate with sprinkles), great links (sweet regular chocolate), and great technical SEO (chocolate cream truffle). What happens when you put them altogether? A fabulous SEO campaign!”

2. SEO Opinions Are Like Brains: Everybody Has One

SEO opinions are like brains - everybody has one

With the low barrier to entry in SEO, it is important to acknowledge the one thing that can be disastrous to any SEO efforts: the opinion of someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about.

Does this mean that you should trust someone who can spout acronyms like there is no tomorrow?


But, you should trust someone who uses their opinions strategically and can show results as proof of their efforts.

You should also trust someone who provides the right information, rather than just information that makes them look good.

When you don’t know enough about SEO, how can you trust who has the right information when your own knowledge of SEO is lax?

In general – people who are fully transparent in what they are doing can be trusted to provide the right efforts and information for your SEO efforts, though not always.

People who don’t hide anything about what they are doing, are willing to show you step-by-step so that you are not left in the dark about anything they do – are the ones you should trust.

All links that are built. All SEO being done to the site. Everything. Should be transparent for the client to review.

You should not have to resort to demands to get the information that will benefit you.

3. SEO Is Like a Race: The Race to #1

SEO is like a race

Except in this race, you have several different types of cars, such as:

  • Car #1: Content
  • Car #2: Link building
  • Car #3: Technical SEO
  • Car #4: Social media
  • Car #5: Keyword research

Except the cars are not racing against each other. They are racing with each other, each attempting to fall into place on site accordingly.

Once you gain momentum in one area, it can help your traffic and rankings.

The general equation is: rankings + traffic = conversions.

When you implement the appropriate SEO techniques and give it enough time, you can expect them to influence your rankings.

Your higher rankings can then influence your traffic.

When you have both elements – rankings and traffic – performing well, you can expect higher conversions as a result.

That’s why it is critical to have a racer’s mindset.

Everyone is always trying to leapfrog over one another to obtain the higher rankings for that competitive space.

The ones that can do it the fastest while also maintaining an aura of legitimacy, and staying in Google’s good graces, will prevail in this race.

4. SEO Is Like a Big Cookie

Well, maybe not exactly a box of chocolates in this analogy. But, hear me out.

You have the chocolate chips, the cookie dough, and other ingredients.

Put it all together and what do you get?

A fabulous concoction of sweetness that is too hard to put down.

If you bake it into a large cookie, it can even bring about a bit of social proof and drive some social media chatter.

The same can be said for SEO.

When you create the right combination of ingredients in your SEO campaign, you can draw in traffic and conversions from people who can’t get enough of your site.

And isn’t that really the goal of all SEO campaigns?

And that’s the way the cookie crumbles!!

5. SEO Is Like Golf

SEO is like golf

SEO can be like golf in many ways. Here are a few examples:

A well-known golf metaphor is something called the “Carnoustie effect.” When everyone performs badly, they all look bad.

This is most relevant in terms of your SEO competitors.

Say for example that during a competitor analysis, you find that almost none of your competitors are fairing much better than you, despite having competitive SEO elements in their campaigns.

If you are explaining to your boss why you must do things at a competitive level, think of golf.

If you just do the bare minimum and don’t differentiate yourself with a unique selling proposition, or USP, that can help you meet and exceed what your competition is doing, you can experience what’s called the “Carnoustie effect.”

This effect exists when everyone performs at the same level – badly. No one will get recognized with better traffic or other significant performance gains because everyone is trying to do the exact same thing.

Differentiation in SEO strategy is critical if you want to become a top contender.

6. SEO Is Like a Party

SEO is like a party

There are many situations in which SEO resembles a party.

  • You have cake – links.
  • You have party favors – content.
  • You have the social aspect – social media, conferences, industry connections.
  • You have a competitive aspect – keyword research, competitor research, industry research if needed, etc.

Throw them all together, and you can easily see how SEO can resemble a party.

Any of the SEO elements, when executed on their own, won’t necessarily provide a significant result to your SEO campaign.

But, when combined into a party mix, you can – eventually – see significant results from your SEO.

7. SEO Is Like a Video Game

SEO is like a video game

SEO can be considered – in certain ways – to be like a video game.

It would depend on the type of game, of course, but usually, you have the following elements within a video game:

  • A protagonist.
  • A villain.
  • Certain things the protagonist must do to “level up” and gain credentials.
  • Certain objectives the protagonist must do to “move forward” through the different phases of the game.

Who is the protagonist of this SEO video game? You (single-player mode) or your SEO team (multi-player mode).

Who’s the villain? It’s your competitors. This can be your real-world competitors and/or your SERP competitors. But if you’re truly an expert SEO gamer, then you know Google is the real villain.  🤣

You must do certain things to “level up” (e.g., grow your traffic, expertise, and authority).

You must meet certain objectives of different phases of the SEO campaign in order to successfully move forward through those phases (e.g., content, link building, developing a new site when needed, performing technical SEO, and other elements).

8. SEO Is Like a Mystery That Must Be Solved

SEO is like a mystery

Indeed. Any brand-new SEO campaign is very much like a mystery that must be solved.

Whenever you gain a client, you must perform your due diligence and research.

The mystery that must be solved is: which keywords will I be able to rank for competitively after certain SEO elements are applied?

And – what SEO elements must I apply and to what degree should I apply them?

In addition, other mysteries randomly crop up at every potential opportunity.

You must pay attention to SERP changes (good luck!) and algorithm updates.

The updates you must pay attention to largely depend on the type of sites you are working on, their industry, and so forth.

You wouldn’t necessarily need to pay attention to every update coming out for sites in the legal industry, although it can be helpful knowing what to adjust and when.

However, as search engines like Google mature in their technology, this becomes less relevant and more dependent on your industry.

9. SEO Is Like Farming

SEO is like farming

Farming is a long-term endeavor that requires a farmer to be knowledgeable about every aspect of their business.

From gardening, to farming equipment, to raising animals – if any one of these foundations fails then the farmer risks making it to harvest without crop or other valuables.

If this happens too often, then the farmer can run the risk of losing their farm entirely.

Likewise with SEO – if you don’t work on any one single element for a length of time before a Google update, you run the risk of your foundation crumbling beneath you, and reaching the update without much to show for it.

If you neglect SEO for too long, and a Google update hits, then you could lose your website position entirely.

This is doubly true when Google does a core update, and many websites are hit as a result.

If you don’t do SEO consistently on your site, you run the risk of losing your website’s performance entirely.

How You Communicate SEO to Your Clients and Your Boss Is Just As Important As Doing SEO, If Not More So

I could talk about SEO analogies all day and go into the details about every single aspect in a way that boils things down to their least common denominator for the layperson to understand.

Focusing on how you communicate your efforts to your boss or client can mean the world of difference between them thinking you are either hot stuff or just another hack who couldn’t make it.

This is an essential skill that every SEO should have when presenting data to clients and their boss.

There are several reasons for this:

It is not always the case that the boss is more skilled than the SEO. In most cases, the boss may know even less about SEO than they let on.

It is imperative, therefore, to always assess the skill level of your boss and client. What they say may not always be what is actually the case.

The better that you can communicate your SEO efforts, your results, and your ongoing success when it happens, the better you will be equipped to deal with any questions your clients or boss may have.

This is a priceless skill that can mean the difference between your success, and failure.

More Resources:

Category Careers SEO
VIP CONTRIBUTOR Brian Harnish Senior SEO Analyst at Bruce Clay, Inc.

Brian has been doing SEO since before it was called SEO, back in the days of 1998. Back then, SEO ...

9 SEO Analogies to Tell Your Client or Boss

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