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SEO for Dummies: What It Is and Why It Affects You

Posted By Eric On March 17, 2009 @ 7:05 pm In Basic SEO Tips | No Comments

SEO concepts shouldn’t be intimidating to understand.  Using the right analogy not only boils down unknown concepts, but it can also keep driving home the main point.  This post is aimed to unveil the shroud of SEO concepts that keep business owners and executives in the dark.

For the analogy to work, I am going to introduce concepts that you may or may not be aware of and partner them with common objects or people.  What is neat about analogies is that you can quickly see where you fit in and what you might be lacking.  My explanations and correlations may anger some people by saying “those are not entirely correct!” and you’re right.  But it’s mostly correct and that’s all we need to bring people on to the same page.  Analogies aren’t perfect, but they help bring an immense concept into bite size chunks.

What is SEO?

I’m not going to answer that here.  Because if you don’t know, the acronym’s definition won’t mean anything so we’re going to start from a different point.  I’m going to paint a picture and little story so that we can see in a nutshell just what all this is about.  It’s time to introduce our setting and our characters of our little analogy.

Welcome to the Library of Published Works

The Internet is simply a library.  It contains vast amounts of information.  Everything that is published for everyone to see comes into the library.  This library is so huge that if you were left to it by yourself, you wouldn’t really know where to begin even if you had an idea of what you wanted to find, because it is a messy library.  To help organize this library, a few people showed up to see what they could do to organize the mess.

Meet the Librarians

The Librarians, who decided to help organize the library, don’t own the library. They just showed up one day with a really huge type A personality.  They have taken it upon themselves to organize the information (independently from one another) so that should someone come into the Library’s door, they can help the poor fellow find what he is looking for – free of charge.  The more well known librarians are Google, Yahoo and MSN Live.

How the Librarians work

The Librarians work constantly by sorting through the enormous growing collection that the library seems to acquire everyday.  Every book, magazine, published paper, published correspondence, minutes of meetings, agendas – anything with text that enters the library will eventually get indexed.  The Librarian sorts all of it by using a couple of criteria:

1. Figuring what the text is about. Because the librarian has so much to do, it scans looking for a common theme of what it is about and puts it in a pile.

2. Sorting by apparent importance. A scrap of paper mentioning three dog breeds is not as important as the weighty book that seems to have every dog breed along with characteristics.  The scrap of paper will still get indexed but will be near the back.

3. Determining Authority. The Librarian may come across two different weighty books on dog breeds and each one seems to be pretty authoritative. In this case, the Librarian will look through other similar works on the topic and see if they refer to one dog breed book over another.  The one book that seems to be referenced a lot by other papers, books and magazines will get placed toward the front because “people seem to like this book a lot on this subject!”

Meet the Interns

Because of the sheer volume of the library, each librarian hires out interns to help gather and sift through the new works.  These interns log when they found the work and some other details about the work that will help the Librarian place the work appropriately.

Meet the Authors

The library grows continually and information is indexed based on certain things the Librarian considers important.  Where does this information come from? The Authors.  The Authors are those that create anything that’s put in the library.  They have businesses or plans of their own and want to increase their influence or market by putting works in the Library for others to read.

How this All Comes Together

Imagine that an author of a Hunting Magazine  strolls into the Library to see how his magazine is doing with all the activity the Library does.  He may find that when he requests “Hunting” from the Librarian that he is brought a lot of works that are not his own.  In fact, he may spot his competitor. “That dingbat doesn’t know a thing about hunting! I should be able to be found first before him!” The Librarian shrugs and then goes back to indexing saying “not the way I see it.”

Dismayed, the hunting magazine author doesn’t know what to do.  His magazine cost a lot to publish and looks decent enough, but he’s missing something.  For some reason, the Librarian doesn’t seem to like it and he doesn’t know why.

Meet the Marketing Agents

Across the way, a friendly energetic woman comes forward and says “I couldn’t help hearing your conversation. If you show me your magazine, I can see why the Librarian doesn’t like it over your competitor.”
“How would you know?” asks the Author.
“I’ve been watching the Librarians for a long time now and I’ve noticed that the works that they index closer to the front all share similar properties.”
“Really? Well, I need your help.”

The perky woman then looks over his magazine and compares it the popular magazines and books on the same topic.  With her knowledge of other practices of the librarians and their interns she points out how the Author can improve his own work to get the attention it deserves.  The Author agrees to the changes.  6 to 8 months later, the Libarian notices the Author’s updated work, it’s indepth organized content and the references from other works in the same genre. “Well, this work has come a long way! I think more people should see this” and the Librarian places the work closer to the front to where more people will check it out.

The Analogy Revealed

And now for the complete cast of characters

  • Library – The  Internet
  • Librarian – Search Engine
  • Intern – Search Robot
  • Published Works – Websites, Blogs, Forums, etc
  • Author – Website Publisher/Owner
  • Marketing Agent – SEO Expert

The importance of finding the right SEO Expert is huge.  Time can be wasted by tweaking your site in ways that the Search Engines either don’t care about or NO LONGER care about.  If you are still wondering what your site could do for you, it’s important to get with experts who know what they are doing and have your goals in mind.


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[1] Google’s New SearchWiki and How It Affects SEO: http://www.seoboy.com/googles-new-searchwiki-and-how-it-affects-seo/

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