How SEO is Like Driving on a Highway

July 1, 2021

Cars are to freeways as websites are to search engines

How does this analogy work? When speaking with clients who are new to SEO, this illustration comes to mind. I thought I'd share it here for you dear readers. 

"I'm told I need SEO, but I have no idea (and don't care) what is involved"

It's not really that they don't care, but care must be taken not to bore clients to death with an explanation of how SEO works. After all, not everyone wants to know how the sausage is made...

Many times the more I deeper I get into explaining to potential clients what SEO involves, the more I lose them. It reminds me of the first time I was trying to understand what I'd be selling to customers when joining my current employment at Alt Media Studios. My boss was telling me the concept over the phone. Suffice it to say it was not a one and done conversation. It was only after handling several accounts and learning from other analysts that it take many days, weeks, months, and even years of detailed work and adjustments for customers to see results from SEO work. Even now, reading this may dishearten you as you realize that it is an investment with no guarantees. Perhaps it is time to break out the illustration mentioned at the outset.

The similarities of driving and Search Engine Optimization

Here are some analogies of this illustration that may help you look at SEO in a new way and recognize its value. 

Happy Road Trip GIF by DRIVE SMART Virginia

The road can be compared to a place where everyone in your industry is navigating. Are you an attorney? In real estate? A contractor? Do you have an ecommerce site specializing in home décor, or natural pain management products? Whatever the case, you have other companies that you're "sharing the road" with. You may be aware of some (maybe they're in the same town), and others you're not aware of. Sometimes existing competitors won't always be your competition, and later new competition may pop up. Sound like driving? You have to share the road with different cars of different types at all different times. 

How does speed factor in? 

paul walker family GIF

So you as the business owner or internal marketing manager are in the driver's seat. Perhaps you're going on your own with a marketing campaign or you've hired someone to help you. Your investment dollars are like pressure you apply to the accelerator. 

So do I have to avoid braking to beat my competitors? Do I need to break the speed limit to win? 

No. Just like there are rules to the road, search engines have algorithms that limit you and creates a fair playing field. We can get more into that another time, as there is much to be said about the sophistication of Google and other search engines' algorithms. 

Keep in mind that throwing large amounts of money at your SEO campaign does not necessarily bring the best results. Your understanding and skill level (or the trade craft and experience of the agency you hire) is a huge factor in success. 

Defensive driving 

When my dad was teaching me how to drive, he told me to always look at the car in front of the one directly in front of us. He said this would help me anticipate trouble ahead of what is directly in front of me. Getting in the habit of doing this would make me a good driver, a defensive driver. 

Keeping an eye on trends you observe among your competition, on the road, will help you to avoid problems. Observing and listening to others who are looking out for your best interests (i.e., the agency you've long as there is open communication and trust) will serve you well in your journey of building a strong online presence. 

One bad habit to avoid

Did you ever drive with someone who used both feet (one on brake and other on gas)? That's enough to make you both sick and crazy. A similar effect can result if you start and stop SEO too much. Keep a steady amount of pressure on the gas; one that you can sustain and that won't drain the tank too quick and that will let you keep up with the flow of traffic. 

Fast And Furious GIF by The Fast Saga


SEO involves an investment of time and money. You need to know your "car" very well, and if you're not a mechanic, you usually have that one technician that you trust with your car. If you have dependents in your car with you, you're carrying precious cargo. Don't be too quick to give up if you don't see results right away. Imagine how things would be if you weren't doing any SEO! Communicate openly with your team, with your digital marketing agency, and be open to suggestions for improvement. At Alt Media Studios, we have had years of experience with SEO industry trends and can help take the wheel for you while you attend to the most important duty - that of running your business.

Let me know what you think about this article. I'm always open to a respectful dialogue regarding the comparison of SEO and driving, or any other topic centered around website development and digital marketing. Last of all, feel free to connect with me about any website ranking needs that you might have! 


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