What Star Wars Can Teach Us about SEO

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It’s almost December, and you know what that means:

The new Star Wars movie is almost upon us!

If you’re a huge fan of the franchise like I am, then you’re probably thrilled…

…but if you dabble frequently in SEO like I do, then you saw the title of this article and thus might be wondering this:

“How the heck is Star Wars related to SEO in the slightest?”

You’d be surprised.

There are plenty of themes in the original trilogy that can teach us quite a bit about SEO. Some lessons are fairly simple and straightforward…

…while others require a little bit of digging.

Today, I’m here to provide you with the golden nuggets of truth I’ve found while digging for those lessons that Star Wars can teach us about SEO.

I hope that these lessons will make SEO easier to understand for those unfamiliar with it…

…or give a little more insight to those who already understand it.

Lesson 1: There is a Light Side and a Dark Side of SEO.

This is one of those more simple lessons that I mentioned moments ago.

If you’re familiar with Star Wars, then it’s a given that you know about the Force:

The mysterious, all-present power that connects everyone and everything in the universe. A power that has been ever-speculated about and likened to a deity by fans.

This is the very same Force that gives a Jedi powers.

The very same Force that has two sides: a Dark Side and a Light Side.

In a sense, one can liken the Force to SEO itself. If you’re into SEO, then I’m sure you’ve heard the terms “White Hat” and “Black Hat” before.

To put it simply: “White Hat” SEO refers to SEO best practices. Basically, any safe and positive ways to help your website rank higher. Such tactics include creating fresh, original, and up-to-date content for your website; writing concise title tags and meta descriptions that contain keywords; and careful but fruitful keyword research.

On the other hand, “Black Hat” SEO refers to SEO that is intended to manipulate search engines to get your website to rank higher. Using Black Hat tactics, you run a very high risk of being penalized by Google or your website becoming de-indexed. Such tactics include purchasing backlinks, keyword stuffing, and cloaking.

You can learn more about Black Hat and White Hat in terms of link building from this article.

Lesson 2: The Mysteriousness of Google and No Guarantees

So, let’s go back to talking about the Force for a moment.

We know that the Force is an all-present entity. We know that the Force gives a Jedi knight strength. And we know that there are two sides of the Force—light and dark.

When it comes down to it, however, we really don’t know all that much about the Force, do we?

George Lucas has never really expanded on the Force in detail, leaving many a fan only able to speculate and speculate some more.

With that in mind, you might even say that the Force is quite vague.

And with that said, let’s think about SEO again. When you think of “vague” and “SEO,” what name comes to mind?

Google.

Every SEO knows about Google. Every SEO knows that Google is the king of search engines and that Google is practically all-knowing.

Every SEO knows that Google is the king of SEO, for that matter.

And every SEO knows that Google’s got a number of algorithms that have shaped and developed the practice into what it is today. We know that Penguin strikes and penalizes websites with spammy link profiles, and we know that Panda hits websites who scrape and duplicate content, deeming them “low quality websites.”

But apart from these tidbits of general SEO knowledge—there isn’t too much else that we know about Google.

Google is notorious for keeping their inner workings a secret—and SEO practitioners live in fear and awe of the corporation daily, as if it were some sort of almighty deity.

We optimize websites accordingly in the name of better rankings. We strive to find the best sources for backlinks so our websites don’t take a blow from the dreaded Penguin algorithm.

Heck, we also rely on Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools for insight into our websites, too.

So with all of this stated, it’s pretty easy to think of Google as that supreme entity or being, much like the Force in Star Wars.

Furthermore, you can liken SEO itself to the Force in terms of mysteriousness.

Think about it like this:

The Force has an element of mystery to it, seeing how we don’t know much about what it really is.

Now, relating this to SEO as a whole:

Of course, we know what SEO is. And after so many years of its existence, it’s only natural that we’ve got a pretty good idea of how it works. This trait alone instantly sets it apart from the Force.

However, we also know that, when it comes to SEO, nothing is instantly guaranteed.

You aren’t always guaranteed to rank at the top of the first page of Google search results for every keyword. You aren’t always guaranteed to rank for every keyword you want, period.

And when you look at it this way, there is a certain mysteriousness to SEO as a whole, much like how there is to the Force.

This, combined with Google’s algorithm updates and secret doings, sometimes leaves SEOs scratching their heads and wondering what steps to take next in an SEO project.

Lesson 3: Organic SEO is a great way to go.

You’ve probably heard this term thrown around a lot.

But what exactly does it mean?

In a nutshell, organic SEO is SEO done without paying to get your page ranking on the SERPs. In other words, you’re not paying for backlinks, and you’re not paying for any other sort of listing on a SERP.

Let’s go back to Star Wars for a moment.

A Jedi Knight lives a simple life—a life that is lived in accordance with nature.

Remember when we saw just how far removed Yoda lived from civilization? There’s a great example.

We also have seen that the Jedi are not completely opposed to using technology. They certainly do not prioritize it over nature, but they are not completely averse to it.

Remember when Luke Skywalker lost his hand? It was replaced with a prosthetic. Remember when he piloted an X-wing ship and joined the rebel assault squadron?

He used technology.

And now, going back to SEO:

You’ve got organic SEO, which I mentioned already. And then, you’ve got manipulations of SEO or other SEO methods that can go hand-in-hand with organic SEO.

A great example of SEO manipulation, once again, is with backlinks. Purchasing backlinks is not organic, and Google considers it a link scheme. Because it’s considered a link scheme, there’s a very high chance that buying backlinks will only harm your website in the end.

This is one of those situations in which nature trumps technology, so to speak, if we liken organic link building to the nature of the Star Wars universe and purchasing backlinks to a very heavy usage of technology (such as Darth Vader’s being “more machine than man”) within the same universe.

The discussion of organic SEO also brings to mind another point:

Where does pay-per-click come in?

First of all, pay-per-click (or PPC) refers to paying for advertisements every time someone clicks on them. You can use PPC for ads on websites like Facebook.

Obviously, PPC is not organic.

However, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, either.

Advertisements cost money. That’s how they work.

Pay-per-click is not considered a scheme by Google. In fact, many companies use AdWords—Google advertisements that show up on the SERPs for specific keywords.

Furthermore, PPC is something that can complement organic SEO. Many SEO firms do make use of the two in order to drive traffic to websites and improve overall webpage rankings.

Sometimes, it’s a very useful thing to create Facebook or Google ads for your company. As with creating fresh new content and posting said content to social media channels, PPC ads get your company’s name out there in the open.

And when your name is out there in the open, people will visit your website and spread the word about you and your business.

So, to wrap it up:

Organic SEO is a great thing. Using pay-per-click, which is not organic, isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

It’s a lot like Luke’s situation with his mechanical hand. You’re using organic SEO with a handful (pun intended) of PPC ads…

…and all of it pays off.

Lesson 4: Symbiosis and Bridging the Gap

And now, for the final lesson:

A lesson on symbiosis.

Before I go any further, however, you should have a definition of what symbiosis is.

Symbiosis is a type of interaction between two living things. Both organisms live in proximity to each other—and both organisms also usually benefit from their interactions with each other.

Looking back at the trilogy for a moment, we see a couple of examples of this…

…but there is one example that stands out more than the others.

You’ve got R2-D2 and C3PO, two droids who are quite the opposites in terms of personality and function. Whereas R2-D2 is an astromech droid—an automechanic starship droid probably used to witnessing combat situations—C3PO is a simple protocol droid, whose purpose is to help others maintain good and strong relations with each other throughout the galaxy.

R2-D2 has spunk, an adventurous side, and sass—whereas C3PO is a fussy, finicky, and worrisome droid.

Yet these two droids, who are completely different from each other, have such a strong friendship, and they have been with each other through thick and thin. Where one lacks in ability, the other makes up for it.

After the two landed on Tattoine and landed in the desert, C3PO was the one to help R2-D2 out of their escape pod. When they encountered some mole creatures, C3PO was able to communicate with them and learn their intentions.

When the two droids were swallowed by Gotar, R2-D2 was the one who saved them by shorting his own circuits.

In another notable scene, R2-D2 even helped Chewbacca repair C3PO.

These two friends teach us a very valuable lesson about SEO:

In the same way C3PO would not have been able to survive so much on his own without R2-D2, it’s difficult to imagine search engine optimization without web design.

Think about it:

Your beautifully-designed, well-organized, and useful website is useless if nobody can find it.

You can optimize your website as much as you’d like—but if your website isn’t user-friendly, people won’t stick around.

If you’ve got awful content on that beautiful website and if people don’t find it useful at all, you can kiss traffic and leads goodbye.

In the end, SEO and web design combine to create the best user experience possible, complete with visibility on the web.

Web design and SEO, in reality, go hand-in-hand. Here at GreatCircle Studios, we like to call this our “Bridging the Gap” philosophy.

Some SEO factors are influenced by design, and some of the best design practices are influenced by SEO.

Let me give you a few examples:

Mobile-friendliness is a great example of bridging the gap between design and SEO. Mobile-friendliness is a ranking factor in Google’s eyes—and websites that are designed to be mobile-friendly or responsive tend to rank higher than others. Additionally, people browsing a responsive website on a mobile device won’t experience the frustration of struggling to navigate a non mobile-friendly site.

Website loading time is also a ranking factor. Web designers who put careful work into a website to make sure it loads quickly will see better SEO results, as opposed to designers whose sites load slowly.

When it comes to SEO, people love infographics. As an SEO, knowing a designer who can create relevant and shareable infographics for an article is a huge benefit.

Do you see my point?

Thinking about it this way, you could say that SEO and web design have a symbiotic relationship. Following best practices for both will benefit the two sides of the coin, bridge the gap between them, and bring you the best results.

Conclusion

Now you know—the original Star Wars trilogy can teach us a lot more about SEO than we could have ever expected.

Of course, it can help people who are new to SEO to better understand the dichotomy between “White Hat” and “Black hat” practices.

As the Force in Star Wars remains mysterious to us, so does Google in the world of SEO. However, we certainly do know that Google is a force to be reckoned with (again, pun intended) while you’re optimizing your webpages for ranking purposes. The Force also reminds us that, in SEO, high rankings are not automatically guaranteed. You must be patient and work for them.

Organic SEO is beneficial to any SEO campaign. While pay-per-click might not be organic, it can give your organic SEO practices an extra little boost, which may be exactly what you need to propel you a little further.

And finally, SEO and web design are part of each other. If you’ve got web design without SEO, then you aren’t making the most out of web design—and vice versa for SEO.

What other elements of Star Wars do you think can provide you with some great takeaways about SEO?

 

If you’re still not too sure about SEO and web marketing, you can always drop us a line. We’d be happy to speak with you and help you smash your web marketing mayhem today!

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