Kentucky is my home. The Lincoln Homestead, Thoroughbreds, Blue Grass, Bourbon, a Shaker Settlement and the winding adventure of Mammoth Cave National Park are a few of the attractions I routinely visited while exploring my Commonwealth. When Ric Dragon took the advice on my blog and invited me to visit DragonSearch in Kingston, NY to discuss the possibilities, I was most curious about the city. “You’ll have to fatten me up; I suggest doughnuts,” was my response to Ric’s invitation to consider joining his Search Engine Optimization (SEO) team.

I confidently boarded the flight that would take me north to Albany, NY.  I was sure I knew what to expect: a floor of clouds that would look like loose cotton and a nice neat runway to land on. After all, I did fly in the winter before, and it went smoothly. You could have warned me that I would be wrong.

The takeoff was as smooth as could be. But as we advanced north, the temperature dropped and the clouds began to thicken until they looked like the surface of arctic waters clogged with icebergs. Do you pick out shapes in the clouds? In the jagged, abstract clouds and landforms beneath, I picked out a bear, a horse head, the United States and a dragon – yes, a DRAGON. Fate was talking to me.

Icebergs and SEO

During the flight, I mused on SEO and icebergs. From the beginning of my blogging days in college, SEO has been a murky concept to me – and recently I’ve been following the debate amongst bloggers on whether to leverage or avoid SEO. An iceberg [a gigantic chip off a glacier] is said to hide 90% of its mass below the surface of the water. And it struck me during my visit that SEO seems to be about a lot of context that is hidden from plain view.

You may believe you’ve prepped your blog posts, Social Media posting schedule and ad copy with “du jour” tags and keywords. You might think you’ve predicted all the icebergs you’ll need to watch out for. You may be sailing along, chatting with your activities director, trusting that the coordinates you’ve programmed into the dashboard are a perfectly intuitive path. NOT. SO.

In that fateful wee-hour, April 14, 1912, no one aboard or on land suspected disaster could befall the massive Titanic. She was filled with VIPs and outfitted with such state-of-the art technology, after all. What went wrong? The vessel, having benefited from pre-planning, was allowed to advance on information that became more stale and irrelevant with every passing hour. They relied on a benchmark instead of keeping a watch on changing surroundings.

SEO, like icebergs, doesn’t sneak up on you

As a recreational blogger, I had the idea that “du jour” tags and keywords would be taken care of by using a do-it-all WordPress plugin. Just set it up, make a few adjustments per post and get to the REAL strategy: audience engagement. As a professional, are you working the same formula? In truth, SEO is the art of tirelessly identifying and deflecting icebergs and potential  icebergs in the waters of YOUR brand. I know: I just blew your mind wide open. You thought SEO was the Titanic, not the iceberg?

Glacier traffic created tremendous landforms such as the Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountain Range one inch at a time, one month at a time. Over my three-day visit to DragonSearch in Kingston, nestled in the Hudson Valley, I took in a visual representation of the cumulative work of glaciers and icebergs – through SEO. It moves an adventurer like me to reverence at the masterpiece we can carve out using the small giant at our fingertips: the internet.

It will be exhilarating to plunge into the murky world of SEO with the DragonSearch team in the next few weeks. I have a lot to learn and of course you’ll come along for the ride, right? What’s that you were saying about thermal wetsuits…?