Lee Odden

5 Reasons Why Good SEO is like Weight Loss

Lee Odden     Online Marketing, Rant, SEO

I get to talk to a wide variety of prospective clients about search engine optimization and internet marketing in general. The amount of information about what search engine optimization is, is as varied as the motivations of the companies that employ it. To help companies understand the various aspects of SEO, I often make comparisons to things just about everyone can relate to. So here are a few reasons why effective SEO is like successful weight loss.

  1. No pain, no gain. Losing weight takes work. You have to make changes in order to make a significant improvement. If your web site doesn’t rank well, you will have to make changes and those changes will cost time effort and money. In most cases there is not a simple, “painless” solution. Same goes for weight loss. For a great SEO program, expect to make an investment.
  2. Changes must be long term. The current fads for weight loss often involve quick solutions like pills, concoctions and other “magic” programs, but they don’t work long term. The most successful weight loss programs include lifestyle changes, not some kind of quick trick. The same principle applies to search engine optimization. SEO is a long term strategy. Quick tricks and algorithm loopholes might get you results in the short term, but you’ll be right back where you started (or worse) as soon as the search engines discover them. How many people have you heard of that have lost a lot of weight only to put it back on? In both cases, the solution is a long term commitment in order to be successful. If you need short term search marketing results, use Pay Per Click. If you’re not in it for the long haul with search engine optimization, then don’t bother starting.
  3. No spam. Spam in a can is going to make you fat. (My opinion – sorry Hormel 🙂 ) Spam in your SEO is going to get you in trouble with the search engines and alienate your users. Just say no to spam.
  4. Value meal SEO. Different people respond differently to attempts to lose weight. Genetics, metabolism and overall health all affect how your body will respond with a weight loss program. Value meals, aka fast food, are certainly of no help for weight loss. “Value meal SEO”, or pre-packaged SEO solutions are not much help either. Web sites are often as different as people. What would be an appropriate SEO program for a 5,000 page ecommerce site selling dog and cat toys may not be the solution for a 100 page, static B to B web site for a systems integration IT consulting firm. There is a unique aspect to almost every SEO program and therefore require unique solutions.
  5. Fundamentals are key. With weight loss it’s food and exercise in the right proportions. With SEO it’s content and links. Those things have always been true and will always be true in the forseeable future. While the fundamentals have pretty much stayed the same over the years with search engine optimization, it’s the execution that has varied a bit. Start and stick with the fundamentals, but pay attention to small changes needed in execution to accommodate for changes in search engine ranking methodology.

Now I suppose the people that know me will expect there to be a skinny (or at least skinnier) Lee at the next conference. All I know is, if I applied a fraction of the energy I put into our SEO biz into weight loss, I would regain my junior high moniker, “skinny” soon enough.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Good stuff, Lee. But when using this analogy with a client, have you ever had anyone say, “Are you calling me fat??!!” 🙂

  2. Ha, that’s good Matt. Not exactly. I should start a new feature on this blog. One goofball analogy per week.

  3. Avatar Jean-Yves says

    My friend,

    Open Souce + SEO is the science of the human brain capabilities and its ability to find it again later.

    Please send me an e-mail if you like new concepts 🙂

  4. Avatar Tammy Ames says

    Analogies work great for me so this was right up my line ~ Thanks Lee! I will make it a personal goal to discipline myself to be lean and SEO friendly.

  5. Thanks Tammy, now if I can do the same, that’s the question!


  1. Marketing Basics » SEO and Marketing - Walk the Line says:

    […] SEO as a skill is not my forte but I spend time every day trying to at least confront some of my SEO flaws. Sometimes I succeed with a great strategy but more often than not, I just go through the motions and wonder if it is making any difference in the big scheme of things (namely Google, MSN and Yahoo). Over time, it actually does work – to some degree. So when Lee Odden of Online Marketing Blog gives 5 reasons why good seo is like weight loss ~ I knew he was onto something. […]