Estimated Read Time: 3 Minutes

An Analogy

If you have a hard time getting your head around the benefits of SEO or search engine optimization, a desert analogy might help.

I was scanning discussions on Moz’s Linkedin page earlier today. I saw Christopher Jan Benitez, a virtual assistant at PortPrep, ask how to explain SEO benefits to non-SEO people. He wanted a brief, 3-minute-or-less explanation.

I provided a two-liner.

A website without SEO is like a shop in the desert. It doesn’t matter what the shop sells, if no one knows about it – if no one can find it or get to it – it’s not going to earn you any business.

You Have To Be Visible To Your Audience

If you want people to know about your desert shop, you need to go where your audience is and tell them about it.

It’s the same with a website. If you want people to know about your website, your going to have to go where your audience is and tell them about it. Where is your audience? In all likelihood, they’re on Google. According to Net Market Share, Google had 74.54% of the global search market in 2017. Baidu, the Chinese search engine, had almost 15%.

If you want people to find you, you have to be visible on Google. 

You Also Have To Be Visible To Google

If you want to show up in Google search results, Google has to know about you first.

When people enter a search query into Google, Google doesn’t search the Internet. It would take too long and no one has that much patience.

Instead, Google maintains a proprietary index of all the content they know about on the Web. When you enter your query on Google, Google searches its index. If you’re not in Google’s index, you won’t show up in search results.

Top-Rankings Are Highly Sough-After and Valuable

Being in Google’s index in no way guarantees a top ranking.

There’s tremendous value in having a page one ranking. Google only displays 10 results per page and the vast majority of people – 48 to 95% – click on a page 1 result.

Earning that page 1 ranking isn’t easy. The search engines use ranking algorithms that change daily and there can be boat-loads of competition. The Indexed Web contains at least 4.79 billion pages (September, 2015). Not everyone is going to try to rank for the same search topics, but in a competitive industry, it can take years to achieve a page 1 ranking.

Let’s look at our desert shop as an example. Assuming our shop sells Prada handbags, a Google search for “Prada handbags” returns over 11 million results. If we want our shop to earn a decent Internet business, it’s going to have to be indexed by Google and work towards outranking 10.99 million other pages, all while the rules and market are shifting underfoot.

SEO Benefits

SEO or search engine optimization can unlock the door to indexing and rankings.

SEOs know how google works. Picture shows a huge vault door exposing a little bit of what's inside.

SEOs know how Google works. They know what a website needs in order to be found and indexed by Google. They can ensure your site is designed and built for search engines using best practices that mitigate the impact of future algorithm changes.

SEOs also know what it takes to earn a top-ranking on Google. They can help you figure out what needs to be done and work collaboratively with you to achieve it.

High rankings are of no value unless visitors convert. SEOs know how people search and way to convince them to do what you want them to do. They will help you set goals and measure progress so you can know if you are making improvements over time.

So that’s it. A website without SEO is like a shop in the desert. If you want people to know about your shop, you need to get indexed and rank on the first page of Google. SEOs can help you do that and more.