There’s a multitude of boring, drab articles out there about SEO tactics and strategies that say the same things over and over again. You don’t want to read one of those, do you? I didn’t think so. So, instead, I took my two passions in life – football and SEO – and smashed them together into one handy dandy basic SEO guide. Naturally, I looked to the most successful, well-known NFL head coach in history – Vince Lombardi.

Sadly, Lombardi passed away in 1970, a full 20 years before the World Wide Web went public, so it’s safe to assume he wasn’t an SEO expert. However, Lombardi was an educated, passionate and eloquent man who was known for his inspiring quotes and well-rounded point of view.

I believe Lombardi said it best when he said “Running a football team is no different than running any other kind of organization.”

With this in mind, I’ve created The Vince Lombardi Influenced Guide to SEO – a guide to search engine optimization based off of many of Lombardi’s famous quotes.

Build A Strategy… And Follow It

“I have discovered in my life that it is more challenging to build than to maintain.”

Any good coach begins prepping for his next opponent the minute his last game ends. Good coaches know that you can never put too much thought into a strategy; great coaches know that a well-defined strategy is the difference between a win and a loss.

Unfortunately, many startups and small businesses place very little emphasis on SEO and launch a website with no clear-cut SEO strategy in place.

Planning a strategy, while difficult, is crucial to your website’s success. Determine what, exactly,  you’re looking to gain from your SEO strategy. Do you want more engagement from your existing customer base? Do you want to increase the amount of local website traffic coming to your site? Do you want to reach untapped demographics?

Once you determine what your endgame is, you can break down your strategy to fit. Determine who your target consumer is. Compile a list of targeted keywords that you wish to rank for. Wireframe your website with the user in mind in order to cut down on unnecessary pages or clunky navigation menus. Plan out relevant, useful content that solves the needs of your targeted customer persona.

Know Your Competition

“You never win a game unless you beat the guy in front of you…You’ve got to win the war with the man in front of you.”

One of the most important (and most overlooked) aspects of game prep is assessing the strengths and weaknesses of your competition. Walking into a game with no knowledge of who you’re playing is the best way to guarantee a loss. Similarly, competitive analysis should be an integral part of your SEO game plan. After all, how do you beat your competition if you don’t know what their weaknesses are?

Luckily, there are a plethora of tools you can use to help conduct competitive analysis. Tools like Similar Web and SEMRush allow you to take a deep dive into different areas of your competitor’s marketing strategy and find out where the best opportunities are. Find the keywords that your competitors are ranking for and mold your keyword strategy around those (and related) keywords. Run backlink reports on your competitors to find where valuable, industry-related links are.

Follow The Rules, Even If They Change

“The objective is to win: fairly, squarely, decently, win by the rules, but still win.”

There are dozens of adages related to the idea of bending the rules to succeed in sports. Lombardi, however, taught his players to play (and win) the game the right way.

Any SEO worth his salt will tell you what Lombardi told his players – there is no such thing as fruitful cheating. Those wayward souls who blatantly disregard Google’s rules to get an unfair competitive advantage ultimately end up getting their just desserts in the form of heavy-handed search penalties that wipe their website completely off the SERPs.

I can’t emphasize this point enough: when it comes to SEO, violating Google’s rules is NEVER worth it.  Be the opposite of Nike- just don’t do it.

Unfortunately for SEOs, Google, staying true to form, is always tinkering with their algorithm. Each time Google updates its algorithm, SEOs have to play catch up to find out which previously legal tactics may now be frowned upon and vice versa. There are plenty of white-hat SEOs who have found themselves on the wrong end of Google’s axe for techniques that used to be completely legal. Keyword stuffing, doorway pages, invisible text – all of these strategies are great examples of how NOT to do SEO.

There’s No “I” In TEAM…or SEO

“The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual.”

Finally, make sure your entire team is on the same page. Take some time to lay out the basics of SEO and how adhering to best practices can help boost website traffic and, in turn, increase conversions.

After all, a backlink profile is only as strong as its weakest link.

Still have a question or two about SEO? Shoot me your question, concern or message on Twitter @jaredstrichek.

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