5 Ways SEO is Like the Rolling Stones

In the summer of 2012, the Rolling Stones celebrated the 50th anniversary of their first gig at the Marquee Club in London.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the original bad boys of rock and roll have endured for a half century despite drug and alcohol problems, several changes to the band’s line-up, and occasional rumors of impending retirement or break-up. (I’m sure all of those “this is the final tour” rumors must have sold a lot of concert tickets over the years).

The first time I completely “got” the Stones was when I saw the movie “The Rolling Stones Rock And Roll Circus”, a film of performances by the Stones, The Who, and others, which was shot in 1968 but not released until 1996. Frontman Mick Jagger’s stage performance is fabulous – nothing like the manic, arena-strutting rooster impersonations most of us know him for, with the rest of the band solidly delivering.

You may or may not be a fan or even “get” the Stones, but one thing is undeniable: SEO is like the Rolling Stones. Sound far-fetched to you? Read on and become converted!

Mick Jagger

Once called “one of the most popular and influential frontmen in the history of rock & roll” with a performance style said to have “opened up definitions of gendered masculinity and so laid the foundations for self-invention and sexual plasticity which are now an integral part of contemporary youth culture”, Jagger has certainly garnered a ton of attention over the years both professionally and personally.

Every band needs a dynamic & engaging frontman as the primary focal point to captivate an audience’s attention. In SEO, a website’s search engine rankings are just like Jagger. People are captivated by Jagger’s movements onstage, and they’re similarly captivated by movements in their rankings. But just as Mick is not the only focal point the Stones present, rankings are not the only focal point in SEO either. In fact, many SEOs suggest focusing more on site traffic and conversions than rankings.

But when all is said and done, for better or worse, Mick gets the lion’s share of the attention and it’s the same with rankings in SEO.

Keith Richards

Expelled from college for truancy as a youth, tried on drug-related charges five times as an adult, and once called “mad, bad, and dangerous to know,” Richards is the undisputed bad boy of the band.

Urban legends circulated that Richards routinely traveled to Switzerland to have his drug-riddled “dirty” blood replaced with fresh plasma. There were even unsubstantiated rumors that Richards was so jealous of the better-looking, hard-partying Stones guitar player Brian Jones that he contributed to or even somehow caused Jones’ drowning death in his own swimming pool in 1969.

Like Richards, SEO has a bit of a reputation problem. Our email in-boxes flood with promises that our site can rank #1 for any keyword we want starting tomorrow by hiring such-and-such SEO company. SEO is perceived by some to be on the same level as snake oil salesmen. Some see SEO as a profession dedicated to manipulating Google’s search results with our “evil SEO practices” (cue the evil laughter soundtrack).

All professions have good and bad actors and SEO is no different.  While Richards is probably laughing all the way to the bank about his bad-boy image, the SEO community struggles with a somewhat-tarnished reputation.

Ronnie Wood

A former member of well-known bands like The Jeff Beck Group, Faces, and The Birds, Wood  joined the Stones in 1975 to replace guitarist Mick Taylor. Wood plays rhythm, lead, bass and slide guitar. He also writes and co-writes songs, sings, and has released solo albums. On top of all of that, Wood is a well-known visual artist, hosts his own radio show, and has his own record company, “Wooden Records”. Clearly Ronnie wears a lot of hats.

SEOs have a lot in common with Ronnie because we have to wear a lot of hats too. We have to know how search engines crawl and index websites, as well as how HTML, CSS and JavaScript work. We have to know our way around analytics and paid search. We have to be conversant in user experience (UX) and conversion rate optimization. We have to be wizards with Excel, know how to read log files, and have a working knowledge of how various content management systems operate.

And that’s just scratching the surface of what an SEO needs to know and be able to do; there’s much more. Ronnie, I think, would dig being an SEO.

Charlie Watts

An accomplished jazz drummer, Watts joined the Stones in 1963. Watts’ demeanor on- and off-stage is much more subdued and calm, especially when compared with his highly flamboyant bandmates. Steadily drumming away on recordings and live tours over the past 49 years, Watts has done his thing with little limelight or personal controversy. Quietly and ceaselessly, Watts has contributed to the success of the Stones without much fanfare.

SEO is not as hip and trendy as social media marketing. SEO is not as immediately measurable as paid search – it takes longer to see results. But SEO quietly and ceaselessly drives traffic, and often the majority of it.

SEO is the steady drum beat that provides the solid backbone of traffic and conversions to websites. Social networking sites may come and go, and paid campaign budgets my shrink or dry up, but SEO just keeps on banging away with little fanfare or limelight. Just like Charlie.

England’s Newest Hit Makers – The Rolling Stones

That was the title of their debut album in May 1964. In the ensuing 50 years they’ve released more than two dozen studio albums and had numerous hits. But from time to time, rumors swirled that the Stones were going to stop rolling – that they were breaking up or retiring. Those rumors continue.

The term “SEO” was coined in 1995 and in the 19 years since, it’s cranked out ‘hits’ too. And of course anyone involved in SEO has heard the rumors and assertions that SEO is dying or even already dead. Yet, despite the many proclamations of SEO’s demise, it seems to just keep on rolling along… Just like the Rolling Stones.

What other ways do you think that SEO is like the Rolling Stones? I can hardly wait to hear your ideas – share them in the comments below.

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