As my son has grown the answer of "I work with computers" when asked what I do for a living just isn't cutting it anymore. I had to put some thought into how to explain SEO to a 5 year old as most people my age don't understand fully what it is that I do. On a trip to a local toy store I had an idea!
As my son and I walked into a busy toy store today visuals bombarded us. It was the perfect setting to explain what SEO is. I told my son he could have one toy from the store but to be careful and choose wisely.
My son has often hear me mention terms "local", "organic", and "paid Search" and this was the perfect chance to try to explain to him what these terms mean.
The first thing we saw when we walked into the store was a large display with a popular movie character cut out placed beside a shelf of products with movie related toys. I told my son that this is like the "Paid Search" area of the internet. The manufacturer of the toys promotes the the movie and its products and they are allowed to take up this prime spot to catch our eye.
It was easy to see how well this worked on my son; he was already sold on this product and wanted to get the action figure that was right in front of us.
After I encouraged my son to look a little further into the store as there might be something he would like we ventured past the "paid search" section of the store.
Organic & SEO
We saw a sign that laid out the different sections of the store. It was a toy store so all the sections were different variations of toys. As I read through the departments to see which department to go to first, my son was sold on the first listing "games". It also happened to be the closest to the spot in which we were standing.
When my child and I went into the games department it became easy to explain Search Engine Optimization to him. We faced many products and while a lot of them were similar, their packaging and branding were different. Of course the items with the best packaging were most eye catching and to me this represented the first 3 listings in Organic. This is the part where we could spend hours looking at and comparing the games, much like in the first few pages of a Google Search results.
After my son weighed his options (and much better idea of SEO) he settled on a game that was from the same movie that was in the display at the front of the store. He was glad he didn't pick the action figure. He likes the movie but he was much happier after looking around and finding a game that we can enjoy together! I didn't want to get into how the "paid ad" at the start of the store had still influenced his buying choice. Maybe I'll explain that in a year or two.
In the car on the way home my son said to me "So mommy, you set up toys in a toy store on the internet".
Yes son, I would say that's close enough.