March 11, 2024

3 Important Mental Models SEO Specialists Use (with examples)

We employ various mental models to solve a wide array of significant life challenges, but when discussing SEO, it's a mistake not to remember them more often.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) remains one of the most crucial tools for driving traffic to a company's website and finding new clients. It's still relevant and necessary even in 2024, as the majority of users (68%, according to BrightEdge) start their online journey with search engines.

The chronic state of SEO is uncertainty. The search optimization industry is based on Google's secret mechanisms of operation, which the company not only keeps undisclosed but also changes periodically. Therefore, it's most important to focus on proven fundamental solutions.

Experienced search optimization specialists utilize several key mental principles in their work. These principles help avoid drowning in the possibilities of modern SEO tools and the overwhelming flow of information. Let's talk about the 3 main ones we use in our work.

1. Red Queen Theory: SEO Can Never Have a Final Goal

Over the last month, we've seen a big increase in website visitors because of the success of the Red Queen Theory. But to keep this going, we need to keep putting effort and resources into our SEO strategy.

If you want your company's corporate website to maintain high positions in Google's search results, you cannot stop improving its pages, filling the blog with new, interesting, useful, and relevant content. There are too many competitors ready to challenge your position.

"It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place." (Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking-Glass”) — this quote best demonstrates the key principles of search optimization. When you stop working on SEO, all your previous efforts gradually fade away.

For example, if after three months of working on search engine optimization, the traffic to your company's corporate website, which specializes in interior office renovations, has increased to 100–200 people per day, and you are satisfied with the number of new orders you are receiving, you must not stop under any circumstances. Your competitors are not standing still either.

However, it's incorrect to assume that all the pressure on your company's corporate website and its position in search results comes only from competitors. Google also continues to evolve, systematically raising the content bar higher and making tools that were once incredibly effective into something standard.

2. Pareto Principle: Focus on What Matters in SEO

Today, the Pareto Principle is evident as a select few pages occupying the top ranks in Google search for high-frequency queries drive the majority of our traffic.

The Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, speaks to the disproportionate relationship between efforts and results, or causes and effects. A small number of causes (20%) often leads to a large number of effects (80%). This mental model works very well in SEO.

It's possible to ignore some opportunities, tools, and factors because they are unlikely to have a significant impact. However, it's crucial to focus on the things that will have the greatest effect on attracting new traffic: content on site pages and in the blog, backlinks, and so on.

For example, Imagine you're managing a website that sells outdoor gear, and you notice a significant drop in traffic over the past month. In SEO, applying the Pareto Principle means prioritizing efforts on the 20% of website pages that contribute to 80% of traffic loss or gains. If you're aiming to recover lost traffic, focus on optimizing key pages like hiking boots or camping tents.

Similarly, when seeking backlinks, promote the top-performing 20% of content, such as comprehensive guides or product reviews, to attract links from reputable sources. This targeted approach ensures efficient resource allocation, maximizing results and enhancing the site's overall visibility and authority in search engine rankings.

3. First Principles Thinking: Don't Forget the Basics of SEO Content

To increase traffic to our site and attract additional clients through SEO, we write interesting and useful content, share insights, and talk about trends.

Whenever you need a completely new solution to a problem or when you feel you've gone too far in speculation, return to first principles — the things that are most likely to be true. This mental model is based precisely on this approach.

Google aims to provide maximum convenience by delivering the most relevant and high-quality content to its users. Nonetheless, some people ignore this principle, try to game the system, and end up losing everything almost overnight. There's no magic pill for SEO; it's consistent hard work.

Imagine your company specializes in basement renovations in Toronto or New York. To maximize traffic to its website, you write blogs about the latest furniture from leading European manufacturers, which isn't even delivered to North America. While this attracts many visitors, it's essentially pointless, as the conversion rate is zero.

That's why, in search optimization and the battle for traffic, it's better to focus on specific keywords with high intensity and low volume, rather than irrelevant keywords with high volume. After all, your business needs new clients, not just numbers in metrics, right?

Let's talk to see how we can boost your SEO ranking


Nick Gric



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