A Strange Coincidence… SEO is Like Middle School!

During my first month at OneUpWeb, I’ve learned a lot about search engine optimization and I’ve noticed some striking similarities between SEO and adolescent social behavior:

The first déjà vu I experienced was when I learned about the power of search engines. Based on a constellation of factors, search engines get to decide which web pages are worthy of the first page of results and which aren’t. One tool to measure status is Google’s Page Rank. Those that continually make the cut over time are given a stamp of approval in the form of a high Page Rank score. In turn, your measly site is seen as better if there are topically relevant inbound links from monoliths with high Page Rank. You may dare to form an opinion that a site is cool, but it’s not cool until the search engines say it’s cool. Clearly search engines base their opinion of your site on whether or not you have friends in high places.

Likewise, in high school a shirt is only cool if it has the word Hollister or Abercrombie on it. It’s risky behavior to associate yourself with an unproven brand. If you try to make these decisions on your own, you might find when you arrive at school that you’ve made a grave fashion error and such a careless transgression will inevitably affect your social standing.

While reading training literature, I also came across this advice: Be careful of getting yourself in a link back relationship with non-reputable sources. In the world of SEO, this means that if you’re trying to get your site on the first page of the SERPs, you need to be very careful where your links point. If you link to a site that is deemed by a search engine to be disreputable, and that site links back to you, your rankings could suffer.

Similarly, during adolescence when your mom makes you invite the dorky neighbor kid over and takes you both to the mall, inevitably someone important will see you there together and assume she’s your BFF. Your ranking in the social order will suffer, especially if she starts hanging around at school! This kind of “non-reputable link” could seriously hurt your standing.

Lastly, writing keyword-rich copy is important when you’re trying to get the attention of the search engine. The object is to prove to them that your content is exactly what 9 billion people typed in just last week and that this turn of events was an amazing coincidence. But if the search engines suspect that you’re overloading your titles, metas, and body text with a particular keyword phrase, they get a bit suspicious and once again, your rank may suffer.

This phenomenon is much the same as when you casually position yourself next to the door of the class where the object of your desire has geometry just before the bell rings: “Omigod! I didn’t know you were in first hour geometry????” This is a risky plan; if your object picks up on this stalker-like behavior, it could ruin your chances.

Another interesting parallel from the training material: Find the appropriate link neighborhood for your site and remain within it when building links. In other words, always choose links that are closely related to the content that’s on your site. Don’t link to a page that has nothing whatsoever to do with your site’s topic. Back in middle school, it was always understood that you should never try to hang with the jocks when you belong with the band geeks! Duh!

Hmmm. This SEO world is vaguely familiar!