What Leonardo da Vinci can teach us about SEO
Leonardo Da Vinci is not only one of the smartest thinkers of his time; he was also a man that had the power to make things happen. He understood very well that having an idea or an intuition is one thing but proving it is another: he was the master of scientific method and passionate about experimentation and continuous testing to prove that his proposal was valid, or to learn through mistakes how to create a better solution.
And this was back in the Renaissance… probably there were very few search engines around.
Leonardo’s Scientific Approach
Mathematics was central to Leonardo’s thinking. While much of his interpretation was based on intuition, he saw analysis as key to supporting hypothesis, needing to make a leap of faith before actually proving it. He supported his proofs with repeated experiments and only after such rigor he had the confidence to trust his conclusions. He also found that new ideas and opportunities arose through deeper analysis and testing, and often took him closer to the origins of phenomena.
He wrapped all this together in his scientific four steps method:
- Observing: testing your eye to understand the subject, its contextual surroundings and the influence they have
- Interpreting: making sense of these observations and from them hypothesizing reason, which can be postulated as scientific laws
- Demonstrating: showing how factors such as mathematical proportion can be found in many different situations, and its implications
- Articulating: testing the logic through repeated experimentation and visualizing the logic in pictures, diagrams, word, numbers
How Leonardo’s 4 steps can be applied to SEO
- Observing: both arts and science begins with observation. In SEO, we make changes to sites every day and measure what happens. If we face an increase or a fall in the website rankings, we are prompted to figure out why and to connect those variations to something we did in the past. Even if it isn’t “science” in the technical sense, the evidence of our own experience is crucial. If we don’t observe the universe and create compelling stories to explain it, it’s impossible to learn anything from those experiences.
- Interpreting: the amount of information available is huge. There is also plenty of choice of tools that are able to pull-out a great amount of data about our website, our competitors, and the whole web-environment. Therefore, it is essential to make sense of what the data tells us and make a hypothesis.
- Demonstrating: any hypothesis must be demonstrated and backed-up by data. Also, a good SEO is able to identify patterns among data, seasonality traits, correlation between offline and online environments and find connection between markets that seem to be completely unrelated but that turn out to have similar characteristics.
- Articulating: in an ever changing environment such as SEO (Google updates the ranking algorithm over 400 times a year, this means over 1 change per day!) the logic and processes must be constantly tracked, challenged and tested. There are also many fantastic web analytics and SEO tools out there as well as data visualization tools that can make this job a lot easier.
There’s no doubt that Leonardo was onto something. He was always impressed by the urgency of doing. Knowing was not enough. He had to test. Being wiling was not enough. He had to apply.
And after 500 years, we can still learn from him.
I believe he could have become a great SEO. White-hat, of course