Grow Your SEO – A Book About Search Engine Optimization for Beginners

This all started with you, our customers and followers. At some point, every customer we have built a website for in the past 6 years asked us about search engine optimization (SEO) and wanted to know how to get their business’ website on the first page of Google. Naturally. Who wouldn’t want to know that?

The problem is that SEO is a highly complex topic. It’s not something you can explain to someone in a 20-minute call or a quick email. If it were quick and easy to optimize your website, everyone would do it, and then Google wouldn’t be able to rank anyone or say who deserves to be first, second, third and so on.

Because the technology behind search engine algorithms is so complex and ever changing, I wanted to find a better way to explain the basic concepts to our customers, business owners and nonprofits in a way that is memorable and easy to understand. Introducing…the garden metaphor. This metaphor helps explain some of the major factors in search engine ranking. First we started working on an infographic about SEO using the garden metaphor, but it eventually evolved into an ebook and then a print book.

SEO Infographic - Garden Metaphor and SEOIn addition to making for stimulating inter-generational Thanksgiving dinner conversation, I hope this analogy will also come in handy when you are trying to explain the importance of SEO to clients, bosses, employees, investors and other stakeholders in your organization.

For the purpose of this metaphor, we will say the main goal for both the garden and the website is driving visitor traffic (this is a public garden). So let’s talk about how websites are like gardens.

On the most basic level, gardens and websites both have content.

No two gardens or websites are the exact same. Even if two different gardens are made up of the same plants and designed in the same fashion, they will have unique characteristics. The same goes for websites.
Gardens and websites are both affected by internal factors and external factors, some of which are beyond your control. For websites, those internal factors are the site’s architecture, code, design, the type and amount of content and the actual words used in the content. External factors include the search engines themselves, competitors’ websites, user behavior, industry and technological trends, the website hosting server and more.

For a garden, the internal factors are the plants or seeds and the care you provide (water, fertilizer, pruning, etc.) The external factors are soil conditions, weather and climate.

In both cases, the external factors may be influenced but not controlled.

The most important parallel between gardening and website search engine optimization to understand is this: you must constantly invest time, money or both in order to continue driving traffic. You cannot plant a few seeds and expect them to turn into a beautiful garden that people will want to visit without a good bit of care and maintenance. Likewise, you cannot build a website and expect it to fare well in search engine results without ongoing effort.

This book is for people who are just being introduced to the concepts of SEO. When you start getting into the more advanced search engine optimization (things like canonical page URLs, duplicate content and permalinks), this metaphor may not work as well.

While the metaphor may not hold up 100%, I hope it makes these technical concepts easier to digest. Stay tuned for more blog articles about SEO and feel free to post your questions below!