Five Analogies That Explain Search Marketing

Analogies help us make sense of things in everyday conversation. They help an audience better understand a lesson by making a difficult topic relatable. Since they are similar to stories, analogies can also aid in the audience actually remembering the lesson learned. Here at 451 we like to use analogies for audiences that aren’t as well-versed in digital marketing jargon. Using analogies instead of technical terms helps our clients grasp the core message right away. This blog will dive into a few digital marketing and SEO analogies that are my personal favorites:

SEO and PPC’s Relationship

“PPC is the gas on the fire, and SEO is the logs.” I heard this one from a sales pitch from an analytics software company. This analogy illustrates how SEO and PPC work together to increase your online presence.  If you create a brand-new website, PPC can get you in front of searchers immediately, like how gas sets a fire ablaze instantly. However, the fire will go out if you don’t have a good base of logs to keep that fire ablaze. This is your SEO at work. A foundation of well selected logs is your healthy website optimized for organic search.

Website Traffic: Quality vs. Quantity

It’s crucial to analyze the quality vs. quantity of your website traffic. Leads or sales determine success, not website sessions. Your digital marketing strategy should be geared toward this fact, and should focus on placing your website in front of valuable users. I’ll plug this analogy with my favorite sports team: Times Square in New York City receives an enormous amount of daily foot traffic (50,000 per day according to Forbes), but I’m not going to try to sell a Philadelphia Flyers jersey there. Although the foot traffic is immense and I’m guaranteed to receive many impressions, my chances of converting that traffic is minimal. The same goes for website traffic. To make a digital analogy, if an accounting firm pulled a funny prank and landed some coverage on Buzzfeed, it can expect a large uptick in sessions to their website, but there won’t be many conversions. The visitors coming from Buzzfeed to the accounting firm’s website are most likely not looking for auditing services.

Conversion Path is a Catch-Tag-Release Process

I got this concept from an article by Hubspot’s Corey Wainwright. Tag and release is a form of catch and release fishing in which the angler attaches a tag to the fish, records data such as time, place, and type of fish, and submits this card to a fisheries agency after releasing the fish to be caught again. Similarly, the digital marketing conversion path brings visitors into your site, converts them into a lead or sale, and releases it back into the wild.
  • Targeted Keywords (SEO and PPC): Getting yourself in right environment by optimizing your site and bidding on targeted keywords.
  • UX (The Bait): Your catch is showing interest. Creating a well-designed landing page that navigates them to make your preferred course of action. Your CTA is the bait itself. Make it eye-catching so they bite.
  • Lead Form (The Tag): They submit. You got the catch in your system with all the pertinent information you need to identify them later.
  • Thank-You page (The Release): Let them go, and because of your tag, you can target them again as you please!

Black Hat vs. White Hat SEO and Graffiti

Daylan Pearce wrote a great article about Explaining SEO to a 15 Year Old  in which he explains SEO is like graffiti. Graffiti perceived as vandalism is like the black-hat SEO tactics of the internet: cloaking content, hiding links, spammy comments, etc.  Graffiti that is seen as art is like white-hat SEO tactics. It’s more than keyword stuffing or duplicating your graffiti tag as many times as possible to get coverage. Great SEO, content, and graffiti takes time, and when you nail it, your work is highly appreciated and visible. It also won’t get erased for being vandalism, it’ll get you recognized as a talented artist/content creator. To take the analogy even further, if you have great SEO talent in content creation or an exceptional skill in graffiti art, you can monetize those talents. Only spammy people are going to pay you for vandalistic graffiti or black-hat SEO tactics.

Backlinks Function like Reddit’s Upvoting

Sorry if this analogy doesn’t resonate for the non-Redditors. First off, you should know that Reddit self-proclaims itself as the “front page of the Internet.” Ignore the fact that this itself is a great analogy for SEO, I’m more focused on Reddit’s upvoting feature and how it relates to backlinks. Reddit uses upvotes to get the highest quality content and comments to the top of a sub-Reddit/ thread.  The idea behind this is that naturally the “best stuff will bubble up.” In this Mashable article, Matt Silverman explains how Reddit is structured around promoting quality content: “The type of content that’s valued, the discussion around it, and the diligence with which users vet and expand on important topics is unmatched. As such, the front page is usually populated with things that will make you think, laugh out loud, and motivate you to dig a little deeper.” Backlinks work the same way. The more sites that link to a URL or root domain will essentially “upvote” that domain in the eyes of a search engine crawler. If people are linking to the content, search engine crawlers can deem that content very relevant for its keywords, and it has a better chance of ranking on the first page due to its relevance and popularity, just like how Reddit’s upvoting gets discussions and comments to “bubble-up” to the top. What is your favorite digital marketing analogy?


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