The Paradox of Choice — How to Narrow your Options of SEO Techniques and SEO Strategies


As you research SEO techniques and strategies, it’s easy to blow a gasket. Hop from blog to blog on this stuff, and you will be inundated with facts, figures, promises, and warnings. Build content. Get inbound links. Submit to directories. Be on social networks. Twitter your brains out. So on and so forth. And that’s just the beginning.

You also get warnings of every stripe and variation. Do this with your meta tags but not that. Optimize your images this way but not that way. Blog about this but not about that. Listen to me and not the other guy. Forget about what I said about a month ago, Google has changed its algorithm so you need to do this now. 

Once you get on the merry-go-round of SEO, your head may experience a surprising amount of centripetal force — to the point that it feels like it might explode.

What’s worse, the more you learn about SEO, the less satisfied you may ultimately be with your final product or decision. In fact, paradoxically, the more choices humans are provided about practically any topic, the worse they feel about their decisions. For a fascinating discussion about this counter-intuitive idea, please read the book, The Paradox of Choice, by psychology professor Barry Schwartz. The author presents compelling, rigorously researched, and evidence based arguments to support his thesis.

It also meshes with common sense. Think about when you go to a restaurant. You look at the menu and see six items, and you feel pretty good. You pick one and that will be your dinner. But if you look at a menu with hundreds of items (like you might find at a diner), suddenly your mind starts wandering. Should I get the blintz? Should I go for the double-decker turkey sandwich? Should I have the chicken soup? You start comparing all the different options in your mind, and suddenly you start to see all the pluses and minuses they have with respect to one another. Nothing looks great anymore. Dinner seems more confusing and somehow less satisfying. Even though you have more choices with the bigger menu of options, you end up feeling far less happy about the meal.

The same can be said about the SEO information buffet.

So how do you solve this paradox of choice problem?

According to Schwartz, the key is to do something he calls “satisficing.” In other words, strive for “good enough” instead of “perfect.” Picture a good enough result, and head in that direction. Don’t get distracted by shiny objects and new and better technology and techniques. Because if you go chasing after that stuff all the time, you’re never going to make any real forward progress. Of course, it’s always a dance. You don’t want to get stuck with a stodgy SEO approach and have your competitors run all over you. But once you recognize that we have this tendency to get overwhelmed by too many options, you can take steps (such as seeking satisficing instead of optimization) to make things a little more easy and fun.

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