The Apple Picking Story

This is a truly ancient story that is told by many professors in business schools the world over. The message behind the story has now been given a 21st century twist, and the tale is now used to teach web designers and business undergraduates the principles of good SEO.

We'll look at the story first, and then in the next post we'll unpack the story to see what it tells us about SEO.

Once there were five families who lived in a beautiful rural valley. One day the man of the first house said that, because his family were starving, he would go up to the apple tree on the ridge and pick some apples.

He got there and soon became tired after his walk. So he set his basket down under the tree in the hope of catching some falling apples, and promptly fell asleep.

One apple was there in his basket when he woke, so he took it home to feed his family.

He did the same thing every day, but of course one apple a day was not enough, so his family grew weaker and weaker.

In the second house the woman said, "My family is hungry. I will go to the apple tree by the river and pick some fuit to feed them."

So she walked down to the river. With her picking stick she reached up for the apples. But while the tree had looked healthy from a distance it wasn't doing so well up close. She found only two good apples, and took them home to her family.

On two apples a day, they grew weaker and weaker.

The man in the third house thought bigger, he knew of many trees in the valley that bore apples. He visited them all but chose one small one that bore much fuit. His family had enought to eat each day but no more.

At the fourth house the woman thought that she knew where the best trees were. She too visited many but then settled on one with a lot of fruit. She brought home many apples for her family. They too had enough for each day.

After dinner she felt frustrated and thought that if she made a step ladder she could reach the very top fruit. This was true, and each day she managed to add another rung, until she was indeed reaching the top of the tree. Soon she was selling her surplus apples to the rest of the families in the valley.

The man in the fifth house was a savvy guy. He did exactly what the woman in the fourth house did, but he picked from many trees and kept notes as to which trees bore the best fruit. If he noticed a tree was bearing less fruit he would pick less from it. If he spotted new fruit at the top of another tree he would add rungs to his ladder. Pretty soon he was having a whale of a time, bringing home more apples than the valley would ever need. Eventually he was packing the apples into crates and selling them around the world.

What can this tell us about SEO?