A Beginner’s Guide to SEO Through the Eyes of a Dating Pro
During my time interning at Chicago Style SEO, I have been learning a lot about what it takes to fully optimize a website—almost more than what my brain can handle. From updating meta descriptions and title tags to creating site maps and link building, search engine optimization is a complicated process with a simple end goal: help users find your website.
To help my fellow SEO beginners out in understanding the basics, I thought I’d relate it to another complicated process with a simple end goal; one that most of us have had experience with—dating.
Disclaimer: Okay, so I’m not a dating expert and this guide may never help you find a significant other, but you’ll definitely be able to understand a few core basics of SEO.
Step One: Turn those glances into dates and your query impressions into clicks
As much as we would all like to think, “looks don’t matter” when it comes to choosing a date, …well, actually, looks do matter.
When we’re in line at Starbucks or mindlessly swiping at our phone screen, we typically decide whether or not we’re interested in someone at a glance. It’s a mutual process that happens when meeting potential significant others.
This concept is exactly the same with websites. Users will judge your website in 50 milliseconds. Keep your site clean and presentable to increase the likelihood of those initial glances.
When a user searches for something, they judge websites based on the snippets of information displayed on the search engine results page (SERP). These two little things they judge are called your title tags and meta descriptions, which are essentially the preview to your website. When you tidy these snippets up, users are more likely to be attracted to what your site has to offer. Keep those title tags clean and meta descriptions descriptive. Stuffing multiple keywords in title tags is like wearing too much perfume or cologne. You’re trying too hard. Choose a single keyword target that represents the user intent you’re looking to capture and you’re well on your way to attracting more people (…to your site).
Step Two: Know What Audience You’re Interested In
Maybe you’re looking for someone who is outdoorsy with a stable career who loves eating Chipotle while watching Netflix, but the reality of the dating world is that you can’t have it all.
When optimizing your website for search, the same reality applies — you just can’t have it all. So, it’s important to know which keywords will help your business rank higher. Optimizing your site around keywords that relate to your business and service area will help search engines and, ultimately, interested consumers find your website.
For example, if you’re a healthcare company that wants to draw leads from online appointment bookings for preventative care, you don’t want to waste your SEO resources on ranking for keywords like “puppymonkeybaby.”
Step Three: The Art of Communication
Let’s say that you’ve found someone attractive who also seems to share your interests. Naturally, you dive into some conversation.
Getting to know someone is tricky, but the very basic concept of conversation is to know when to talk about yourself. Sure, you can share stories about your travels or that time you ran into Kendrick Lamar at The Gap, but don’t dominate the entire conversation with me, me, me, and more me.
Apply this strategy to the content on your website. You want your pages to have a few internal links to drive viewers to other pages on your site, but you don’t want to overwhelm their user experience. Having too many links is like wearing too many accessories—a huge distraction to your potential customer.
Instead, internal linking should be a natural part of the user’s navigation by contributing value to the surrounding content. Moz recommends no more than 150 links per page for search engine crawling purposes, but for your own site consider the type (and amount) of content on the page. While there isn’t an industry-set, “perfect” number of internal links per page to shoot for, use your judgment wisely with a focus towards how the link will support the content.
Your date isn’t going to appreciate a bunch of self-centered tangents, and neither will your users.
Step Four: Mate Value and Domain Authority
In social psychology there is a concept called mate value. This how we determine how desirable we find someone according to our preferences. Mate value tends to be based on characteristics like physical attractiveness, intelligence, quality of alternatives, and perceived experience. The higher the perceived mate value, the more likely it is that people will be attracted to you.
From an SEO perspective, this measurement can be equated to domain authority, which can help to determine how well your website will rank for a given keyword with all other metrics being equal.
Like mate value, the principle is the same — the higher your domain authority, the more likely people will be interested in your site. While mate value is relative to each individual, domain value is a concrete number on a scale between 0-100. Fortunately, you can increase this number by implementing a solid SEO strategy through content marketing and link building.
When it comes to improving your own attractability, you’re on your own. (#YOYO)
Step Five: Practice Makes Permanent
While you may know the phrase “practice makes perfect,” I prefer this alternative: practice makes permanent.
It’s nearly impossible to be a completely perfect catch in the dating game, but following all of these basic tips when looking for a significant other will help you be a more confident (and attractive) date.
You won’t know what you want unless you get out there and start trying, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it right the first time—practice, practice, practice!
Ultimately, when seeking conversions on your site, it’s best to never let your efforts go stagnant. You can do this by updating your content regularly, maintaining all of your social channels, and continuing on-site optimization efforts each month.
Getting into the habit of staying on top of best practices, A/B testing, and making small tweaks as necessary will make your brand more well-rounded.
Optimization isn’t this magical thing that can happen overnight. It’s an ongoing effort that takes time and, well, just like dating, it needs consistent practice.