SEO is Amazingly Similar to Gardening
The similarities between SEO and gardening strike me as being so similar. Let’s look at the similarities one at a time.
The beauty of a garden is in part how well it was planned. The average home garden requires the homeowner to begin with a plan of the botanic goals. Not the least of which this requires planning the types of plants, trees and shrubs to plant and how they will get laid out for visual presentation.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) likewise needs a game plan. Persona analysis is a must to consider the type of content needed on your website. Keyword research is another must to determine which keywords need to be included in the website content. These two elements are the minimum planning required for a successful SEO strategy.
Preparing the Soil
Once a home owner has a plan for the garden, the soil must be prepared before the actual planting begins. This is to ensure the soil has the requisite nutrients to feed the roots of the new plants as they transition from their temporary pots to their permanent life in the garden’s soil.
Likewise, a website must have a “healthy architecture” that will allow for search engines to properly crawl and index its content so that it will score the website’s content favorably and retrieve its content when people search using relevant keywords. Important SEO architecture issues include the URL naming structure, URL navigation structure, the proper use of meta data, and efficient coding that is easy for search engines to crawl. There are other technical issues that can impact SEO, but these are the big ones.
The home owner has planned their garden, prepared the soil and purchased the plants, trees or shrubs. It’s now time to plant your garden. You can expect to get your fingernails dirty as you plant your garden. The SEO equivalent is the act of optimizing content, page by page. Each page MUST be uniquely focused on one topic just like a plant is unique. Each page of content gets optimized with a singular keyword focus. Think of it this way. You want to make it easy for the search engine when it crawls your website to interpret the specific theme of each page so that it may get displayed in a search for a person interested in that topic.
An experienced gardener understands the importance of fertilizer to provide nutrients to plants. Those nutrients serve to stimulate growth, botanic beauty and protect against disease. In SEO the fertilizer equivalence that gives a website content marketing strength is authority. And, authority is gained through a combination of longevity, and an abundance of relevant content, which other people link to and share through social media. Search engines determine the authority of a website by analyzing the quantity and quality of content and how much others link to it and share it. While low quality content is not effective, research proves that 50 pages is better than 20, 500 pages is better than 50 and 2000 pages is better than 500. This point illustrates that the more relevant content is present in a website, the more authority it is given by search engines which will result in more search discoverability and result in more inbound traffic to a website.
A gardener understands the importance of pruning foliage. The pruning act gets rid of dead remnants in a garden to make room for new plant life. In the SEO context, editing content to reflect updates in your business or industry is the equivalent of pruning. Search engines have the capability to assess the last date of content revision as well as the frequency. Algorithmically search engines assume that if you don’t periodically update your content or add to your website’s content you aren’t giving your website visitors a good experience. The result is your website will be scored lower and result in poorer SEO results. In other words adding and updating website content is a must for long term SEO success.
A gardener would never conceive the notion that once a garden has been planned, the soil is prepared and the plants are planted that the act of gardening is complete. In order for a garden to thrive in the long run the gardener gives it constant attention. Yes, constant attention. Likewise, SEO requires constant attention. A quarterly crawl report should be performed to assess any technical issues that need attention. Periodic keyword research is advisable to learn of new ways your customer searches for your products. Observing the type of content your competitors launch is advisable. And, most important is a commitment to continually adding new content to your website throughout the year. No matter the industry, adding content is a must for effective SEO. New content can be in many formats, such as vertical industry solutions, white papers on unique topics, case studies, educational resources, e-books, blog posts, videos, podcasts, etc.
The parallels between gardening and SEO are mind-boggling. In fact, the next time we hire an SEO implementation consultant I’m going to look for someone who is an experienced gardener.