How SEO Is Like Solving Suduko

By on December 18, 2012

Having been a Suduko fanatic for the past few years, there is rarely a puzzle that stumps me. Mastering Suduko is all about logic and looking for patterns to see what the missing number is. Whether it’s a 9 box, 12 box or intricate combination of multiple interlinking boxes, the key to figuring out the answer is filling in all the possibilities for each box on the puzzle.  To be effective at search engine optimization, you have to think the same way. The answers to ranking in Google are not spelled out in front of you; rather you have to consider the possibilities, look for patterns and apply reasoning based on experience.

The Correlation

Steps to Solving a Suduko Puzzle: You could just sit there and painstakingly try to solve the puzzle without filling in all the numbers. It will take you considerably longer to solve it. But, I begin by looking vertically and horizontally at the numbers existing on the puzzle, filling in the missing numbers for each box. Once you’ve done this, your first solved numbers will be those standing alone – there is no other possibility. That number is then erased from the boxes it impacts vertically and horizontally. Then I look for patterns. If 2 boxes in a row could only be 2 numbers, those 2 numbers can then be erased from the other boxes in the row. This same pattern hunting technique works for 3 and 4 numbers.

Applying the Logic to a Website: When you assess a website for a plan to make it rank better, you first look for the obvious. The obvious usually resides on the website itself in the form of navigation, meta tags, page keyword density and length and quality of content. Once these things are improved, some “numbers” in the puzzle are filled in.


Looking for the “patterns” requires more work. What keywords is the site naturally ranking for and which keywords is it struggling with? Is the site pursuing highly competitive keywords and creating too many of the same anchor text back links? Is the site getting its links from low quality sources? Is the ranking issue simply due to the site’s age or not having any incoming links at all? The “patterns” tell you how to proceed, whether it be removing poor quality links and increasing the diversity of link types and variations of anchor text. Pieces of the puzzle come together as a high quality link is implemented and the results realized. When you see what works, rankings improve and the answers make themselves evident. Websites respond differently; trusted websites will respond better.

While a Suduko puzzle can be completed, the process of improving a website is ongoing. But, when you approach the process by analyzing causes and results instead of just doing without measuring, you never know if what you are doing is helping or hurting your website.

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