SEO & SEM: Shopping Mall Analogy.

Analogies help you understand things in a way that is not only creative but also so intuitive.

Our VP, Marketing once asked me to explain to him in simple language what is the difference between SEO and SEM

This was after months of discussions in which I tried to explain to him about Search in general and what kind of marketing we do in search – ads, organic, ranking etc.

I thought all night and came up with this:

Say there is a Shopping mall – owned by Google. You want to hire a space in that mall on the ground floor for your shop because there is huge footfall in that mall.

Understanding SEO.

You approach Google and say that I am relevant to the customers walking into your mall – can you give me space for setting up my shop. Google says – Cool! If you are relevant to my customers I will give you space for free but you will have to keep up your game all the time to be relevant to my customer otherwise I will shift your shop to 2nd Floor.

That’s in principle SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) for you. Free way to get quality traffic on your website.

Understanding SEM.

Now Google, says ‘You know something, I am running out of space in my mall and there is hell lot of a demand for Ground Floor positions. If you are ready to shell out some money, I will give you space for another shop on the ground floor where you can also put a board in front of your shop to display the offers / marketing message you want to showcase from time to time but yes, you still have to be relevant to my customer’s demand.

That’s in principle SEM (Search Engine Marketing) for you; a mix of relevance and investment to get quality traffic to your website.

Result: Sir was happy that he finally got the intuition behind it and I was relieved that I could explain it in simple language.

Made me think about the power of simplicity – simple words, brevity and innovative ways of looking at things. This analogy may not have been completely accurate but served its purpose I guess.

Have you ever explained something to someone using a creative analogy? Would love to know your thoughts.

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