Steam Trains, Wile E. Coyote and SEO

No these are not new tools or new practices that have been adopted but are a couple of analogies which I use when discussing SEO with clients.

You may think that this is strange but explaining initial starting steps (Steam Train) and the potential end of a strategy (Wile E. Coyote) with clients then it is usually easier to explain using these analogies.

So let’s start at the beginning, the steam train.

Steam Train

Let’s break it down, In this instance the steam train is your websites performance and when a client comes on board the train is stationary, maybe not in terms of their current online performance but in terms of how we are taking this on.

So to get the site moving, we need to understand the site and undertake a series of technical audits as to understand the platform which we will be working with – think of this like an engineers initial checks on the safety and performance of the engine.

This then helps us to identify if there are any technical issues which may be holding the site back, some technical issues, which we would see as a high priority, are like the brakes still being applied to the train.

Now these audits, as well as keyword research,  can take some time to complete, and the subsequent findings/actions may also take time to complete (based on the findings and the available web dev resource) in order to assist with the website performance.

So this process of workflow, like building steam in the boiler, is key in order to progress the site, get the train moving.

These audits are the logs, coal and firelighters that go into stoke the fire and build that steam, so they are the initial push to get the train, your site, moving forward, though potentially slowly at first.

As the audits are completed, and the issues are resolved, the train gathers momentum with its fire further stoked by the required workflow (which is, in turn, driven by the audits). This can be anything from on-page content to content marketing and authority building.

There can sometimes be an expectation from  businesses that are investing in an SEO strategy that it can deliver immediate performance improvements, but unless there is a ‘no-index’ or ‘no-follow’ tag on the page, then it will take a little time.

So when the train is in full motion there can be a tendency to take the stance of “we have completed SEO and we don’t have to continue to invest”.

This is where Wile E. Coyote comes into the equation.

Wile E. Coyote

God loves a tryer and Wile E. Coyote is one of the biggest in history, but his attempt to catch the Roadrunner adequately sum up the approach of stop-start investment in SEO.

Here your website is Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner is organic performance.

Your SEO strategy is what gets Wile E. closer to the Road Runner – it’s a big order to ACME – but when businesses stop investing in that strategy, the Road Runner (performance) turns the corner, changes pace or runs through the tunnel you’ve painted on a mountainside and Wile E., your site, goes over the cliff.

Now what usually happens?

The Coyote, manages to gather momentum for a short period of time but then ultimately starts to fall.

When you stop your SEO strategy, either stopping new content and/or authority building, this is when you will see you organic performance start fall back, whilst your competitors continue the chase.

I have seen the data. It may be the case that content could be out of date, authority has been lost as sites remove old links or an update which has affected the entire site, whatever the reason – a lack of continuous investment is as good as no investment at all.

SEO is a long term investment, not a magic trick (or ACME rocket skates) that can be used once for a short term win.

People learn through analogy – allowing people to approach technical concepts in a way they had not previously considered can offer a degree of understanding they had not thought possible.

This is how we build relationships, how we build trust and how we prevent SEO being perceived as a dark art that brands need only dabble in from time to time.

***Note that the Wile E. Coyote name is fully trademarked by Warner Brothers***