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SEO is like Personal Training – the Ultimate SEO Analogy?

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Analogies have a funny ol reputation in the SEO industry. Over the years Ive seen SEO analogy posts get slated by fellow digital marketers. Thumbs-downs dont exist on Moz/YouMoz anymore (they do against comments, but not against posts), but I remember this post SEO Is Like Buying A Home getting a ton of thumbs-downs at the time (and in fact, you can still see the negative sentiment in the comments below it). And when technical SEO was compared to make-up more recently, well People. Kicked. Off. Rebuttals, rebuttals everywhere.

I think analogies do have their place maybe not when trying to explain what SEO is to other SEOs, but it can be hugely beneficial when youre talking about SEO to a layperson: such as a prospective client. I think things are getting easier/better when communicating with laypeople, as people are slightly more self-educated on the subject compared to 5-10 years ago, but I still have the occasional conversation with a prospect who think SEO should be easy, cheap, and that results should be instant and Im sure you do as well.

Ive often thought about different types of analogies that could be applied to SEO One time I thought that there couldve been a comparison to greyhound racing, but it didnt quite fit right. I even once tried to compare SEO to constructing a building (laying foundations = getting a good website built, etc.). A client of mine once tried to compare it to taking a car to a garage, in order to tweak it to get it to drive faster. Hmm Its tough. Nothing sat right.

But now I think Ive fallen upon the ideal SEO analogy. Its not perfect, but its about as close as were gonna get

SEO is like personal training.

Personal training image
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Still with me? OK, hear me out now

You cant outsource your health

As youve probably heard me pipe on about before, especially if youve read any of my previous posts on here (and especially the most recent one about Collaborative Link Building) or on my own blog, I follow a consultative and collaborative approach. I coach clients on the ways that they can market their business even run their business that will complement their SEO efforts in kind.

This is where the personal training analogy works really well. While you can outsource some aspects of SEO, ultimately its on you as a business to put the effort in. You cant outsource your health you cant pay someone to exercise for you. If you want to get fit, you have to be the one to do it.

On that note

Wealth is irrelevant (although obviously it helps)

Imagine two people in a room: one is flat broke, the other is a billionaire. Be that as it may, they have the exact same health: theyre the same size, shape and weight, and need to fulfil exactly the same exercise regime in order to get into shape. Regardless of monetary wealth, they both have to do exactly the same things in order to hit their health goals. In other words, just because one is loaded and the other one isnt, it doesnt (necessarily) mean that the former has an advantage over the latter.

The same applies to SEO. Admittedly a bigger budget does mean that you can pump out more content, videos, infographics, etc., and generally invest more money into the SEO process. But that doesnt necessarily mean that you have a guaranteed edge over the competition. What if the content thats produced is poor? What if the other guy (the competition) produces better, more targeted content at a lower cost?

When it comes to exercising, the rich individual can work out at a fancy gym, with a high-end personal trainer, using the best fitness equipment available and while wearing top-of-the-line gym wear. But that doesnt mean they will definitely get fitter compared to their less well-off peers.

Youve got to put the effort in results wont happen overnight

Another point where the analogy shines: whatever your fitness goal whether its weight loss, muscle gain, toning, etc. you dont get results overnight. You dont in SEO, either.

https://moz.com/

It takes times weeks, maybe months, even years. And you may gain small victories in the meantime, whether its losing a few pounds before you lose a few stone, or gaining a few strong long-tail keyword rankings before hitting the big money terms.

We are the chief cornerstone

Maintaining results you need to keep at it

Whether youre an agency or a freelancer, weve all had at least one client who as soon as theyre dominating the rankings thinks that its absolutely fine to call it a day. After all, youve done your job, so why bother carrying on, right? Wrong!

As us SEOs know, SEO isnt just something you simply stop. If you do, you risk losing your rankings over time. Youve got to maintain your rankings with on-going work. With some of my long-term clients who are doing well, weve reduced the monthly/retainer rate to a maintenance level in order to keep em up there.

Just like with your health. If you hit your fitness goal and simply stop and go back to your old pre-fitness lifestyle, you risk taking a U-turn and heading back to the way you were before. And who wants that? Maintenance is key.

Heavy Lifting
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Blackhat/spammy techniques are like using performance enhancing drugs or cosmetic surgery

OK, now we get onto the cheesy comparisons Bear with me here.

Yes, you can work hard with a personal trainer and spend months improving your fitness levels itll be hard work, but itll be worth it in the long run. Or you could take a shortcut: if your goal is to gain muscle, you could take steroids; if your goal is to lose fat, you could have liposuction surgery.

Sound familiar? Black hat SEO.

business news headlines today

Personally I prefer the steroids comparison as its more black hat-y taking something in order to gain muscle more quickly draws more similarities to high-quantity but low-quality spammy link building tactics.

And while were on the subject

Google is like the Olympics

If conducting black hat SEO work is like using performance enhancing drugs, then Google are sort of like the Olympics if thats your fitness goal (to compete in them).

After all, if youre caught using those types of drugs, youre banned from partaking in the Games. Just how if youre caught doing spammy work, youll receive a Penguin devaluation or have a Manual Action slapped against you. As ridiculous as it sounds (Google? The Olympics? Really?!), it actually works pretty well in this context.

What do you reckon? Is this an analogy worth sharing with clients, or is it yet another flop (like some of the examples shared in the intro)? Alternatively, what do you consider to be the best SEO analogy going? Drop a comment below or feel free to tweet me with your thoughts.

[Image credits Gregor/ 4kWallpapers]

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Steve Morgan

CIM-qualified Online Marketing & SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) Consultant with 8 years of online marketing experience: 4 years’ agency experience; around 6 months’ experience working in-house for a national household name in the insurance industry; now freelancing full-time.

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/stateofsearch/~3/mGv3V0VD7IU/

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