How I Explain SEO & Pay-Per-Click To My Mother

How I Explain SEO & Pay-Per-Click To My Mother

I think Search Engine Optimization is one of the hardest things to understand and even harder to explain to small business owners. Now, Google is making all kinds of change to their Search Engine Results Page (SERP), making it more confusing than ever.

I’ve learned to run things through my “Mom Test.” If I can explain a digital product in a way that my Mom understands, I know that it will make sense to an advertiser. Don’t get me wrong, my Mother is not stupid – far from it, she is one of the smartest women I know (I’d say that even if she didn’t read my blog posts). But, she is not a digital native and is not someone who has a lot of marketing experience. So here is my “Mom Tested” explanation that you can use to explain SEO and Pay-Per-Click advertising (as it relates to Google) and all of the recent Google changes.

First, let’s get our terms straight.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and SEO is a TYPE OF Search Engine Marketing (SEM) just as Pay-Per-Click is a type of Search Engine Marketing. But they are very different.

Search Engine Marketing Graphic

SEO is the process of improving and promoting a website to increase the number of visitors the site receives from search engines (as in Google). When a company (like Vici) does a SEO campaign for a business we are doing things both on the website itself and by creating links to the website, in order to promote that website to Google so that the business appears higher in the organic rankings for keywords relating to that business.

SEO Graphic

Pay-Per-Click, which is also referred to as Paid Search or Google AdWords, are the text ads that appear primarily on the Google Search Engine Results Page. You pay when someone clicks on the ad. Most of our clients have found that Pay-Per-Click is not efficient for a local business and that Keyword Targeting of display ads works much better.

SERP Graphic

Sometimes, you might see a Results Page that looks like the one below which includes the Google “Snack Pack” listings. These are not paid ads. They are organic listings that Google offers when it thinks you are looking for specific locations. Again, like organic search engine results, these cannot be purchased – you have to have good SEO to appear.

Snack Pack Graphic

And if you Google a specific business you might see something completely different which is the Google “Knowledge Graph” shown below. These are not paid ads either. They are organic and stem again from having good SEO.

Knowledge Graph Graphic 1


What does all this mean to the average local business? How do you know if you need Search Engine Optimization (SEO) help?

  • Are you listed in the Organic Search Listings on the first page of results when you Google keywords related to your business? (Only 8% of searchers bother to click past the 1st page of search results.)
  • Do you appear in the “Snack Pack” listings when you Google your keywords and add the city you are located in (i.e. Engagement Rings Seattle)?
  • When you Google your business name does a complete “Knowledge Graph” appear on the right hand side of the page?

If not, then my Mom says you need an SEO campaign!

Share this post