SEO Football

American football is a frankly brutish game mirroring in a general sense the foreign policy most of our presidents project — but I digress — it also has something to teach us about SEO, which I’ll try to confine myself to for the rest of this post.

I do not follow this game, or any game where I am mere spectator, but an upbringing in “the states” leads unavoidably to some amount of exposure to the sport and there is one really common football metaphor used in business that describes SEO as well.

There are essentially two ways to take the ball down field — running and passing. In regards passing there are two variants, the short distance (screen) pass and “the long bomb”.

The long bomb is the quintessential “silver bullet” — in one play you move dozens of yards, and in the perfect scenario, pitch it straight into the end-zone for a score. Almost everyone in the Internet Marketing space is looking for the long bomb … and to mix metaphors … that’s what they usually get: a bomb!

Because the long bomb is a hard thing to get right. It takes protecting the quarterback longer than it seems should be possible, a receiver that is not completely covered by a defender, exquisite aim and a perfect catch. If you miss, you have gained nothing and lost a “down” or worse still you could be intercepted and find yourself now playing defense. Not a happy set of alternatives

The running game by contrast is slow, hard, dirty work. The expression used is “four yards and a cloud of dust” — a reference to the yardage you have to gain to be awarded the privilege of doing it all over again. Oh joy! Yet another beating and more AstroTurf burns.

The ground game is ugly and brutal and will kill you if you do it enough but it is far more certain than passing. Where the bomb is one of finesse, the running game is one of brute force against force. You just “grind it out”. Nobody in the IM space is interested in grinding it out … but the bald truth of the matter is this: grinding it out is really the ONLY game in SEO. The long bomb is just a bomb.

Football players get paid millions of dollars a year to do a job that, despite the surface celebrity appeal, is an ugly, painful job. Their pay first reflects the willingness and ability to do what most people would not consider doing and second the enormous entertainment marketplace that they serve. What football players do is “create content”.

Just as sure as your content on the web attracts search traffic to your offers, the drama of football attracts eyeballs to TV screens. So anytime you find yourself complaining about building more content, make a picture of a running back getting his knee injected with Cortizone so he can finish the game. Writing seems suddenly much less painful.

Grind it out. Every 4 yards is one down closer to goal and all you have to do to win is to keep playing the game.

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