Halloween is 11 days away, and if you know me, you know I love Halloween—mostly for the candy. One of my favorite classic Halloween films is Disney’s Halloweentown, and believe it or not, Halloween has a thing or two to do with search engine optimization. If you’ve never seen Halloweentown (first of all, who are you?), it has to do with a girl named Marnie finding out she’s a witch, learning about her powers from her grandmother, and traveling back and forth between the magical world and the mortal world on various adventures.
I grew up watching the Halloweentown series (the first one is a classic), and little did I know, it was already preparing me for the world of SEO. Here are a few things it taught me:
If you wear a black hat, you’re probably “bad.”
Not everyone in Halloweentown who wore a black hat was bad, but those who were up to no good certainly did. Those who practice black magic, or in this case, black hat SEO are also up to no good—usually manipulating sites in such a way to improve rankings. This means keyword stuffing, comment spamming, and paying for links. It might work for a little while, but Google’s team of wizards will eventually find out and put a stop to your bad practices.
Ghosts are sneaky.
In a world where Halloween is all the time, ghosts are everywhere and they usually pop up in the most unexpected places. In Halloweentown, Marnie and her siblings have to track down a ghost. Ghosts in the SEO world are pretty common and it’s also important to be on the look out for them. Ghosts can refer to many things in SEO, but typically they refer to ghost visits or spam referral in website traffic. These little suckers can skew data in Google Analytics, so it’s important to check your referral traffic and filter out any “fake” visits directed to your site. Ghosts might also refer to sneaky tactics like hidden text and links on a web page.
Spiders can be a good thing.
Marnie’s grandmother, who is also a witch, loves all things Halloween—that includes spiders! We might think of spiders as a bad thing, but in our digital world, search engine spiders (really called crawlers) are good! Every search engine has a crawler that indexes and retrieves results from websites, like 404 errors for example.
Time travel can be helpful on occasion.
Every now and then, it can be useful to go back in time in SEO. In the second Halloweentown film, Marnie goes back in time to learn about a spell book (and mostly to move the plot along and fill in some gaps so she can defeat the antagonist). In the SEO world, we do a bit of time traveling, too. Whether it’s taking a look at data from last year or years prior, or even using this magical archive tool to see what a website looked like in the past, time travel on the internet can be quite useful.
It’s not all about magic.
The entire theme of the Halloweentown series revolves around spells and potions, but at the end of the day, it takes a little time, patience and strategy. SEO isn’t all magic, either. It’s not an overnight solution or an on and off switch. Even Marnie knew it would take some time to craft her powers. SEO takes strategizing, research, time and patience. SEO is not a one-time deal either. Once you think the job is done, something else will probably come along. Why do you think there were four Halloweentown movies?