How SEO Is Like Parenting

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Oh hey there! I'm a digital marketer with a decade of experience in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). And I'm a toddler parent.

Lemme tell ya- SEO and parenthood are not really all that different.

I wish that I could reach back in time to my younger/bright-eyed/bushy-tailed/more inexperienced self and relay some of the lessons I've learned over the past few years of parenthood.  

Because the lessons you learn as a parent can definitely make you a better SEO marketer.

Here's what I mean:

You gotta be in it for the long haul.  

Here's a scene every battle-scarred parent knows well: It's 3:30am and the baby is finally settled. It's week 3 at home with your newborn, and the sleep deprivation is really starting to set in. You want to cry from exhaustion, but you're too exhausted... Plus, any movement might wake the beautiful, terrifying little bundle of joy cradled in your arms. Then the realization hits you: holy crap, this is your life now. Surely you can't keep this up for another day, let alone 18 years?

Then, somehow, you wake up one day with a three-year-old little person who is bursting with laughter and curiosity and affection.  You finally see the payoff of the blood/sweat/tears you've put in for the past few years. And that payoff is goldennnnn

And sure, it's still challenging. But you know you can handle it.  

With SEO, too, there's a lot of waiting for the payoff.  Plenty of digital marketing channels- like paid ads- give you an instant response. Not so with SEO...

You'll optimize your meta tags, clean up your canonical URLs, and set up great schema markup...only to sit back and wait weeks (or months!) to see Google update its index of your listings.  

You'll come up with a winning content strategy- but the production cycle itself takes time.  (Blog posts don't write themselves, honey...ah, but if wishes were fishes...)  

There's no short-cut to the trial-and-error testing required to master the voice on your blog so your audience will feel compelled to share it.  And when it comes to "pitching" other influencers for links to your awesome content, there's no rushing the relationship-building that's gotta happen before you bust in asking for favors.

SEO is a slow investment... but the payoff (free, high-converting traffic) is indeed golden.

Sometimes the rules just change on ya.

During my first year as a new parent, it seemed like every few weeks I'd have a completely different child on my hands. One day, you realize you've finally gotten the bedtime routine down pat. High five! Mama's got a glass of wine comin' her way tonight at 7:30 SHARP!

Then- without warning- sleep regression! Suddenly your mildly-hungover, majorly-humbled keister is pacing the floor with a crying baby at some ungodly hour. BAM. The rules change, and overnight your life needs some adjustment.

In the same way, Google is kinda like a baby. One day, out of the blue, website owners will wake up to an unexpected drop in organic search engine traffic. Panic sets in, denial, bargaining, despair... gulp ... Was there an algorithm update?

Yes, Google's ranking algorithm (the rules of which sites will rank highest for a search term) - it changes. Sure, it helps to have a professional SEO advise you on strategy, because there are certain guiding principles that are unlikely to ever change.

But if you want your SEO program to thrive- you gotta learn to evolve and be prepared to change course.

It takes a village.

It takes a village to raise a child.  Amen to that.

Every parent knows this as gospel truth. I gotta say, I think I hit the jackpot with my husband; he's pretty much an equal partner on the homefront most days.  But even between the two of us, we still can't do it all.  

I remember the first time we tentatively agreed to a dinner playdate with some neighbors. The kids started playing together, I didn't have to do all the cooking myself, and we were able to share some adult conversation while also sharing clean-up duty.  Score!

Same story whenever my parents come to visit from out of town: they have a great time playing with the kiddo, he has a ball too, and I actually have a chance to dig the house out from beneath the piles of laundry collecting everywhere.

Things go much smoother with a village.

SEO, too, involves a lot of interaction.

First of all, it takes a lot of different skills. It relies on the production of really awesome, quality website content. It depends on social buzz and inbound links from other website owners. It requires that you watch your website analytics, to learn what works best. It also demands some technical know-how.

One person can't always do it all- especially as the business grows beyond a certain point. (And anyone who can do it all probably won't want to at that point).

Even if your content production team is just YOU, you still need an audience of colleagues, readers, and fans who will just eat it all up and promote that content to others.  SEO is inherently social.

And finally...

There's plenty of monotony- but then the big wins are sweet. 

It's hard work. But it's so worth it.

Your Turn...

Even if you haven't been through parenthood yourself, I know you've had SOME life experience that felt transformative (and maybe kicked your a$$ a little, too).  ;)

It's true what they say: What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.  (Cue the Kelly Clarkson. No really- do it. It's right here- you should hit play immediately.)

 

Anyway... whatever obstacles you've lived through, whatever storms you've weathered, give yourself props for what you've learned along the way.

Tenacity. Grit. Creative problem-solving. Losing your fear of failure. These are ESSENTIAL traits for an entrepreneur. 

Take a look back at your own life experiences. Respect the road that has brought you here. You're ready to build something great- and you're stronger than ever.

Which life experiences have prepared you (perhaps in unexpected ways) for your work as an entrepreneur or marketer? I just love these stories...so lemme know in the comments below or over on Facebook!

BTW- If you liked this article, please consider sharing it with your friends or your audience of like-minded savvies! I would so appreciate it. Your friends would dig it. You'd look like a hero. We'd ALL be better off.  ;)  Just give a little tickle to those buttons below. Thanks, friend!