Remember to Tip Your Server… And Your SEO

It’s been an interesting trip. And a huge change. Working in a restaurant with prep cooks threatening to beat me up in the parking lot. Exploding ovens, missing eyebrows. Old women yelling at me, “How hard is your job?!” Sliced off fingers (saved on ice). Dumping grease.

Restaurants are never a bad gig. It’s mostly good money, and an excellent jumping off point for kids. But I don’t really feel like asking if you’d like a refill on your ice tea forever. I also didn’t dig myself into student debt to make kiddie cocktails for children who are just going to throw their mac-n-cheeze on the floor anyway.

SEO and web marketing in any aspect is a brand new concept for me. I had no idea men and women of an entire company work to position websites through keywords and relevant linking. And those were the same folks behind a vast majority of websites that are returned when I search for movie theaters or hair spray potato cannons. The concept, new to me remember, is both horribly obvious and incredibly ingenious. Thanks SEO for letting me find the Potato Pulverizer at the top of my SERP!

Yet search engine optimization isn’t too different than waiting tables, cooking food, or folding and packing cardboard boxes at a cucumber factory for ten hours a day at 5.25/hr (my first job, I was 14, the only one who spoke English, I lasted 5 days).

OK, maybe not the last one.

Switching from any industry to web marketing, an individual has to utilize skills they’ve learned in other aspects of life; in my case, waiting tables. A sense about people, their needs and wants. Intuition into what a certain customer may be in the mood for. Politeness, an outgoing personality. Marketing has a lot to do with reading people, feeling out what the general public is searching for. Same with SEO I’ve found. We use keyword lists generated with thousands of variations of whatever the user is looking for. Those get narrowed down to the most potent words, the most clickable and user-friendly.

An SEO doesn’t just push, push, push. He or she intuits what the target audience wants, styles their writing to provide that audience with the information they’re searching for. It’s about pleasing the customer, while recognizing the goals of the restaurateur.

So I guess you could say those bratty, messy toddlers are the spammers and black hatters throwing fistfuls of mushed tater tots and keywords everywhere to get attention. And we SEO’s are the servers playing up to the fun tables ordering rounds of drinks… and letting the busser clean up the mac-n-cheeze.