Let’s face it, the digital economy just isn’t what most people think of when they ask what you do for work. In fact, many well-meaning individuals have a hard time understanding exactly what SEO is and how one can make a career out of it. If you find yourself needing to break it down into manageable terms, here are a few tips.
Talk in Terms of Reputation, Not Technology
The first step in lifting the fog about your online career is removing the complex technology from the picture at first. Ultimately, the technology is not really what’s important. The task of managing brand reputation and building trust is really what you want to talk about. The goal of your content through SEO is to help people find and understand companies better by providing useful information in a context that is applicable to them. And this is done by using Google’s cataloging system, which ranks content based on certain factors. Therefore, your mom, or anyone else who doesn’t quite understand the tech, doesn’t need to know anything about Google’s algorithm to understand that this is what you’re doing.
Try Not to Confuse Things with Abbreviations
Once your mom understands the goal of the work you are doing, you can start describing how SEO is different from other marketing tactics. However, there can be some confusion due to all the three-letter abbreviations we see floating around. SEO, PPC, and other terms may feel familiar to you but they are a foreign language to other people. The good news is that saying the words Search Engine Optimization actually opens a door for you to talk about how content is optimized for the search engine, although you may have to backup and define what a search engine actually is in layman’s terms.
Explain How the Process Applies to Them
Even people who don’t understand, or even know what a search engine has likely used one before. Whether you mom shouts questions at Siri, or uses the library’s online catalog, she has almost certainly searched for something using technology before. The easiest way to explain it is that when she asks a question, Google identifies keywords in her question and searches all of the sites on the web for that keyword. This process takes just a few seconds thanks to behind-the-scenes SEO work. Then it spits out an answer based on the most popular and relevant information available. Ideally, the first answer that pops up is the best, but there will likely be dozens of articles, web-pages, and opinions about the question. Google attempts to rank them in order of quality and relevance so that you are always getting the most accurate information first.
As an SEO employee, your job entails curating content and optimizing it so that Google can recognize it as both relevant and important. Sometimes this means optimizing a product web-page, and other times it means optimizing social media posts or blog posts. Regardless of what you are actually optimizing, the goal remains the same, and the end user’s experience is better for it. By extension, the more users are able to find your site and believe that the content is relevant per Google’s ranking system, the more you are likely to sell, and that is why your clients pay for your service.
For the non-tech savvy, this explanation is usually more than enough to help them understand exactly what you are doing and why. In a broad sense, SEO is just a modern form of marketing that uses technology as a medium. At a deeper level, your marketing goals are less about pushing a product, and more about building a reputation online for the client company over time until they are established as a leader in their industry, and people know to call on them automatically for solutions.