How SEO Works: A Simple Analogy

Updated: Mar 22, 2021

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a strategy for helping people using search engines find your website.

There are so many websites, profiles, and accounts in the world that whether you’re on eBay or the entire internet, it helps to think of your website as a needle in a haystack.

Imagine the internet is a giant pile of nuts, bolts and screws. All the pieces are made of different metals.

A search engine is like a magnet that can focus on attracting different types of metal.

When someone goes on Google and searches “dental practice near me” they’re telling the magnet to pick up as many matching metals from the stack as possible, and then display them in order of relevance.

SEO helps your screw get pulled faster and displayed earlier. The more of the right kind of metal you’re made of, the more likely you’ll get picked up by the magnet.

But more importantly, people have to use your screws. If someone searches through a pile of screws and ends up using yours, (they click on your website) the magnet will remember that and present your screw sooner and faster to the next person who searches through the pile.

Don't Make This SEO Mistake

The biggest mistake I see websites (especially Ecommerce sites) making with SEO is they try too hard to game the system. In the earlier days of the internet, it was easy to write the same keyword over and over again to get your content discovered.

But now algorithms can detect that sort of spamminess, and when they do, they will throw your screw to the junkyard.

Tricking search engines is not impossible, but it's obvious to a human reader when you try to do it.

For example:


as opposed to


Keywords are like air fresheners, you want them there, but if there are too many in plain sight, people are going to think something is wrong.

Keep Your Content Polished

You might be made of the right metal to be found for SEO, but if your web copy is old, outdated, generic or written poorly--if you look rusty, you'll be passed over by the customer.

Presentation is important for any and every business. That's why you invest in professionally designed websites, nice offices, nice logos--why wouldn't you invest in good writing and communication?

Poor writing makes your screw look rusty, but looks aren't everything--a rusty screw has suspect utility. You hesitate to use it, not just because of the aesthetic, but what if it breaks?

Same applies to generic or poorly written content. If I see something with grammar mistakes, I'd think the business is careless. If I see someone overusing keywords, I'll think they're trying to con me into a sale. If the content is too long, not engaging, or poorly formatted, I won't read it.

I'll look for someone else who has a better blog.

TLDR: SEO Is About Finding The Right Tool For The Job

Search engines are machines. You can't expect to appeal to a search engine the same way you do a human reader, or vice versa. That's why it helps to hire a content writer who can both galvanize your tools with the right metal so that it will be picked up by the magnet, and also polish your screws so that customers feel confident using them and coming back to you for business.