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Posted by Andy Brown on 04 April 2013
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Why SEO is like theoretical physics
It's often struck me that search engine optimisation and particle physics have a lot in common. Not convinced? Let me explain!
Experiments in particle physics
Subatomic particles like quarks and leptons are too small to observe or measure. All that theoretical physicists can do is to fire particles at each other (the particles, that is, not the physicists), then try to make deductions based on the observed results:
Subatomic physics for dummies. You can't see the particles themselves, but you can observe how they affect other, larger particles.
The theoretical physicist has no idea what's going on in the black box, and has to make deductions based on his or her observations of results.
Although only God truly knows what the structure of matter is, I suspect Larry Page or Sergey Brin could make a shrewd guess.
SEO: second-guessing a search engine algorithm
Now let's consider what SEO involves. No one - except Larry and Sergey - know the exact Google algorithm, but internet marketers can run experiments and observe the results. What happens, for example, if you stuff your pages with keywords, or create lots of links?
Here's what the SEO practitioner's work is like:
What search engine optimisation involves.
Perhaps you can spot the similarities between the two diagrams above? Both involve running experiments to try to guess the hidden rules which govern the behaviour of a complex system.
So next time someone tells you that SEO isn't rocket science, refer them to this article!