Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Trial Attorney, Search Engine Optimizer Allegory

I am sometimes asked the about the difference between Search Engine Optimizers (SEOs) (including companies offering Search Engine Optimization). I often suggest it reminds me about the differences in litigators. I'll explain why in this extended metaphor.

Not All Litigators are the Same
Some litigators have nearly perfect win percentages even when presented with hard to win cases, upwards of 90%, while other trial attorneys have a win percentage closer to 50%. With such drastic differences its clear that there is a difference in trial attorney skill which affects success.

There is an intense competition and intellectual challenge presented by contesting a case in trial. Excellence often perseveres.

In a trial a third party, be it judge or jury, ultimately decides the outcome. The litigator who presents the best case to the third party often wins. However the third party does have to judge upon a set of laws, that while open to interpretation, are known to each party to varying degrees.

Google the Judge, Jury, and Law Maker
An effective SEO will prepare your content to be understood and digested by a third party, Google. Google will then judge your case for ranking assignment for search input terms. There are an infinite number of search terms.

Google has algorithms which rank websites. These can be thought of as the law; however, because many of the algorithms are trade secrets, the law of the land is unknown. Your SEO will have to reverse engineer these laws. This is an intellectually challenging task and excellence will persevere. SEO is not a purely pay-to-play, or pay-to-win, venue like Pay-Per Click. Just like you can't buy a judgment in the courtroom.

Presenting your Law Firm's Case to Google
In the courtroom a good litigator will present an excellent case to the Jury (and Judge!). A good litigator is statistically more likely to win a trial (this based on excellent litigators win percentage).

A good SEO will present an excellent case why your website should rank to the Jury, that is Google. Ultimately an SEO's skill can mean the difference in ranking or not ranking for a term. Not only does an SEO need to present a good case, they also need to be able glean the ever changing laws as best as possible to be able to present a good case. SEO is intellectually challenging and an intellectual competition.

The Opposition 
Unlike a trial where there are essentially two competing parties represented by the plaintiff and defendant, in the expedited Google Court Room, each term is compared to other sites, so in essence it is a competition for the best content to match a keyphrase against several million petitioning websites. 

Advisory Role
An excellent trial attorney can be trusted to give sound advice about whether to take a case to trial, or if there should be a case brought to trial. Hopefully this advice comes with some understanding of how these cases will affect the bottom line, and high-level corporate strategic positioning and strategy.

A good Law Firm SEO should be able to present a list of words that you should rank for, and conversely recommend against terms where the volume or value isn't there.

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