The Surprising Similarities Between Dating and SEO

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Hitting up the bars to look for dates might seem like the furthest possible thing from performing keyword research or building links back to your site.  But when you take a closer look, the two have some common characteristics. In the spirit of Valentines Day, we wanted to share the surprising similarities between dating and SEO.

Characteristics and Traits

Looks & Physique versus Design & Layout

In the dating world, when you start looking for a potential mate, you look for someone who’s in good shape and has specific physical appearance characteristics that appeal to you.  For example, if you like a woman with a curvaceous physique or a man with a good sense of style, you’ll seek out these traits in a potential date.

In the same way with SEO, when you’re looking for a potential backlinking partner, you’ll look for a site that has good “style” (in terms of its color scheme, uniqueness and readability), as well as an absence of physical detractors – in this case, ads.


Personality versus Site Speed & Functionality

When looking for a potential love connection, personality likely plays a major role in your decision to pursue one person over another.  Most of us want someone who’s “real”, who works hard and is smart, kind and caring.

Similarly, we assess a site’s “personality” as a suitable link partner when we look for sites that load quickly, that don’t contain broken links or images and that make use of a natural linking structure (without abusing any paid links).

Job Title & Career versus Website Branding

Don’t kid yourself – as much as you might say that career aspirations don’t matter in a relationship, the truth is that we all look for someone who’s on a good career path, with a high level job and corresponding salary to match.

We often apply these same criteria to linking partners.  We don’t want unambitious, no-name sites – instead, we want to link to sites and brands that are recognized within their industries and that have achieved a high domain authority, high PageRank and high MozRank to match.

Status & Popularity versus Backlink Profiles

When it comes to dating, we often seek out matches who have obtained a high level of status and popularity.  We look for partners who have good networking skills and are associated with the “right” types of people.

The importance of having the right associations spills over into our SEO efforts, where we ideally want to pair with websites that have a high number of quality backlinks from diverse root domains.  And just as we stay away from dates that are associated with gangs or criminals, we likewise steer clear of sites that make use of spammy, paid backlinks.

Approach and Method

Choosing Your Potential Mates versus Link Prospecting

When choosing who to date, you likely take all of the above criteria into account.  You probably don’t just choose a potential mate on status and popularity alone; instead, you take a more balanced view that incorporates the person’s looks, personality, career prospects and social status into a wider overall view.

Similarly, when you’re choosing which sites to approach to be potential backlink partners, you don’t look solely at the site’s layout or speed.  Instead, you consider a number of different criteria that give you a good overall understanding of whether a link partnership with the site will benefit your own pages.

Making Your Initial Move versus Reaching Out to Link Partners

Think, for a second, about how you approach potential dates.  You don’t walk up to that special guy or girl and say, flat out, “Date me now!”  (Or, at least, I hope for your sake that you don’t!)  Instead, you approach the process with a measure of care, taking the time to set up a well-rounded online dating profile, working on your best pickup lines and starting off a new relationship with a few careful calls or text messages.

At the same time, you wouldn’t email a new website and say, “Link to me now!”  Instead, you’d encourage these link relationships to form naturally by submitting your articles to directories, sending out initial contacts to bloggers in your industry and disseminating link bait content that’s designed to attract attention in a low-commitment way.

Building Your Relationship versus Ramping Up Your Link Building Strategy

Nothing signals the end of a relationship like someone who dives in too quickly and starts talking about marriage and kids after the third date!  The best relationships are those that build slowly, in which you take the time to get to know the other person before you start dating.  Over time, this partnership may evolve into a serious relationship, but you won’t get to this stage without a major investment from both parties!

Link building experts recommend the same “slow and steady” approach for your SEO campaigns.  To avoid triggering over-optimization penalties that result from building too many links, too quickly, most SEO experts recommend that you slowly build your relationships with industry experts and editors, and allow link building to result naturally from these efforts.

Developing Trust in Your Relationship versus Building User Trust

If you want your relationship to move into the serious phase described earlier, you’ve got to invest time and effort into building trust with your partner.  This stems from using healthy forms of communication in your relationship and from taking the time to work out problems before they become major issues.

At the same time, building a successful website results not just from employing a number of SEO strategies but also from investing in the relationships you’ve built with your readers.  If these visitors don’t inherently trust you, they won’t come back and won’t act on the calls to action you’ve carefully placed throughout your site.  Using trust symbols and user testimonials on your site, in addition to generating positive user reviews around the web are the keys to developing a healthy, honest relationship with your visitors.

Spontaneity in a Relationship versus Diversity of Links & Content

Ruts kill relationships, which is what makes a certain level of spontaneity a must in terms of keeping your partnership fun and rewarding over time.  To make love last, you’ll need to come up with different ideas to keep things interesting, as well as surprise your partner with gifts that regularly remind him or her that you care.

But the same types of repetition that kill a relationship can also doom your website.  Your readers want fresh and unique content to keep them interested, while the search engines want to see a variety of keywords, anchor texts and link building techniques in order to reward your site.  And heck, throwing a gift or two towards your readers in the form of a promotion or giveaway never hurt, either!

Relationships over Time versus Long Term SEO

Once you’ve found the right person, it’s important to never stop showing him or her how much you care.  The foundation for a lasting, fulfilling relationship is continually working to impress your partner and to better yourself as a person.

This same level of continuous effort should be extended to your website as well.  Even if your site ranks well and gets loads of traffic, it’s important to never stop looking for ways to improve.  This could be from continuing your link building efforts or from looking for the latest SEO strategies to apply to your site.  By continually investing in your site, you’ll build up a web property that’s rewarding for your visitors and financially lucrative for you.

Any other similarities we missed?  Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Special thanks to the SEO RYAN GOSLING tumblr for providing us with these awesome pictures.  Happy Valentines Day!


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