ELI5 SEO – The Candy & Supermarket Analogy
“ELI5” is an acronym for Explain Like I’m 5.
This is my attempt to “ELI5” search engine optimization (SEO).
A girl walks into a supermarket to get some candy.
She walks to the candy aisle and sees all kinds of colors, options, brands, and types of displays!
Which one does the girl choose?
The Hershey’s has an advertisement, buy 2 get 1 free – great deal!
Just below that is the Three Musketeers box, nearly at eye-level, with a very compelling box design.
You know, she’s not the biggest fan of those options since she saw they both have milk chocolate, so she keeps scanning the boxes and options in the aisle.
Hey, what’d you know, there’s a little section off to the side of candy without chocolate!
She steps over there, scans the options and grabs the Skittles bag.
Scanning the ingredients and other details, she sees the flavors and ingredients are exactly what she’s looking for and she’s ready to head to the checkout counter.
How’s this SEO?
The girl is the person using Google (the searcher) and Google is the supermarket.
Candy is the keyword/concept they are searching for.
When she searches for the keyword, she gets a search engine result page – the candy aisle.
3 Musketeers is in the most clicked position (#1 organic search result).
Hershey’s is a Google Ad placement with a buy 2 get 1 free ad that stood out right next to it.
All the wrappers are the page titles and meta descriptions, optimized for the candy display cases.
3 Musketeers had a nicely designed box and very delicious looking wrapper, while Hershey’s had a great promo, but ultimately neither were what she was looking for.
She could tell that because both of them had the words “chocolate” in the search snippet (in the page title and/or meta description).
In the related searches box of the search result page, she saw this sign that said “non chocolate bars” and went (clicked on) there.
Before getting to the “aisle” there, the brands had to go through a lot of work beforehand to make sure they got on the store shelves (indexed by Google).
The list of back-end tasks required are too long to list, but think of things like business development, FDA approval, and so on.
This is technical SEO.
Many hired companies to design the logo and the wrapper; others did it themselves, less successfully…
Candy near eye-level may have also put out some commercials and advertisements (let’s just call these backlinks) that increased their brand’s reputation (domain authority) with the store (Google).
This made it more likely the store would feature the well-known brand at eye-level over something lesser-known, like a BIG HUNK or Charleston Chew, which you’d commonly find on the lowest shelf (or bottom of the Search Engine Result Page (SERP)).
Once she picks up the bag of candy in the store, she visits the website to see whether or not she wants to buy it, which she eventually does.
This is important because she can see the results in front of her after her initial search, yet still find that some of the results are not what she’s looking for.
The shop owner now has the ability to move the candy further down the “aisle”, or the SERP, and exchange it with other candy that may be more in line with what people are looking for the most.
Through testing, you can determine what things need to be moved around to show up based on what customers are searching for.
It’s true for stores and it’s true for SEO.
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