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Baseball and SEO Have More in Common Than You Think

Andrea Schultz
by Andrea Schultz on Mar 31, 2011 1:28:00 PM

Opening Day has finally arrived for baseball lovers across the country. Our office gets a little intense with Yankees, Brewers, White Sox and Cubs fans all devoted to their teams. So while I was thinking about my beloved Yankees this year it occurred to me that baseball and SEO have quite a bit in common.

Baseball is dependent on a team; A group of players that each contributes to the outcome of the game. Yes, your pitcher is one of the most important but all the others players are needed as well. The same is true in SEO. There's not just one player that will make or break your organic search visibility, there are many.

Let's take a look at how the various positions in baseball relate to Search Marketing:

I would like to think of content as the pitcher in your SEO strategy. Without good pitching, no matter how great the rest of the team is, you will have a huge hole in your game plan. The same is true for SEO. It would be extremely difficult to achieve organic search visibility without content to support the rest of your efforts.

The catcher is the player that connects the rest of the team and aims to keep everything running smoothly. They call the pitches, decide when a team meeting on the mound is necessary, all while protecting home plate. In SEO, the catcher is your Website's architecture. Your Website's architecture connects all the pieces internally. If a portion of the architecture is broken or not working properly, then your organic visibility will be hindered. If your home page is not properly search optimized and focused on relevant keywords, your organic search visibility will suffer, giving your competitors the upper hand. Similarly, if the catcher wasn't focused on home plate, the other team would have the chance to score.

1st Baseman
A team's first baseman is the first component in your defense. This position has the simple task of getting the player out before they reach the base. In organic search engine optimization, your 1st baseman is meta-data. Meta-tags have a very simple role of describing the page accurately utilizing content on the page with a page's title tag and meta-description being the most important. A very simple first step, yet ignoring it can create a hurdle in your offense.

2nd Baseman
The second baseman plays a crucial role in your team's defense as well. They are the person responsible for turning double plays, keeping the ball in the infield, covering open positions. Without a strong 2nd baseman a team will suffer, therefore much time and development must be spent in choosing the right 2nd baseman. Just as much time and consideration should be spent when selecting targeted keywords that will work best with your Website. Choosing the right keywords is crucial to your Website's online success. If you choose the wrong keywords to target, you leave a huge gap in the infield allowing your competition to step in and steal your market.

3rd Baseman
In baseball, your 3rd baseman needs to have cat-like reflexes. They are the player closest to the batter and guard the area of the field that most balls are hit toward. The 3rd baseman works hand in hand with the Shortstop while running double plays, chasing foul balls and covering other positions. In terms of search marketing, the 3rd baseman is your reputation management. With the eruption of social media, reputation management is more important than ever. If your company is being discussed online you too need the ability to react quickly and respond to messages about your organization. Your SEO 3rd baseman needs to monitor what reviews are ranking well within search results and manage the messages they perceive. For example, if a bad review of your organization is near the top of organic search results, respond to that review and turn an upset customer into a happy customer, leveraging that review Website's organic search position to your benefit instead of a liability.

The Shortstop is the go to man. This players protects the area between 2nd and 3rd base, they come in on bunts, move back for deep balls, basically a little bit of everything when it comes to the infield. Social Media Marketing is the Shortstop in organic search. Social Media handles customer support, reputation management, building brand awareness, marketing, among others. And much like the Yankees roster, this position can also be your team captain!

In baseball your outfielders take care of fly balls and aim to get the ball back to the infield as quickly as possible to prevent the other team from scoring a run. They hit the back wall, dive into the grass and leap over the fence. Outfielders will try everything possible to catch the ball, all while working together to protect the outfield. On your SEO team, think of link building as your outfielder. Not only do you need to build links from outside Websites, but you also must address your internal link building structure. - how well your Website cross-links to its own internal pages. Your external links allow you to block the competition in gaining an edge on your Website as well as help get visitors (the ball) back to Home Page (your home plate).

The powers at be that control the game of baseball, the umpires. This was the easiest position to relate back to SEO. Google is the umpire that rules the game right now in terms of online search visibility. And just like the umpire in a game, if you get out of hand, YOU'RE OUT OF HERE! Google has shown lately that they have no problem throwing you out of the game rather quickly, no matter who you are, if you don't play by Google's rules!

You have the baseball greats such as Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa who took their teams to great heights. The team's manager develops the strategy that will be used for each game: What the lineup will be, who will be the starting pitcher as well as what action to take in each individual situation. Search Marketing firms and managers should not be chosen lightly. Past success and clear objectives need to be considered. To get results, you must demand truly effective search marketing from your SEO agency or internal Search Marketing Manager. Choose an SEO based on documented results and evidence of clear strategies that will meet your business objectives. Without the right leader to implement effective marketing strategies, your online success will be limited.

Can't forget the mascots! What would a Brewer's game be like without Bernie! They are the face of your team. In SEO, your mascot is your brand ambassador. Whether it's a cartoon character, a celebrity, or just a voice of an employee, they are the face of your business and should be utilized in all aspects of your marketing strategy.

Brewer Sausage Races
For the Brewer fans within the E-Power team, I had to fit this into the post. The famous sausage races are a crucial part of every home Brewers game and in a way have become another mascot you could say for the team. So how can I possibly relate the Brewer's sausage races to SEO? All of your organization's departments are racing to achieve their particular goal for the Web. IT wants the flashiest, most top of the line Website available. Marketing wants their marketing messages and promotions plastered everywhere on the Website. Top management wants to maintain order and be extremely careful in terms of what information is posted on the Website. Your search marketing team or agency wants pages and pages of content. All departments have a valid concern and all are racing to win the battle. However unlike the sausage races, in search marketing there should not be a single winner. A collaboration of all departments is needed for a search marketing strategy to be successful.

So, now that we're all up to speed on baseball's various positions and SEO, I've left the most important player for last. The fans and your audience. The baseball team, managers and mascot all need to do their part in order to fill the stands. Yes, the goal is to win the game, but even if you're winning, if the stands aren't full, the team really isn't winning at all. It takes a long term commitment by all involved to develop a successful baseball team. The same is true for SEO, no matter how great your Website may look or how perfect your marketing messages may be, if the customers aren't converting, your online marketing program is not really that successful. Your company's search marketing strategy should be planned out for the long term with an end goal of continually increasing your Website's online conversions and presence.

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Andrea Schultz
Written by Andrea Schultz
Andrea is the VP, Online Marketing at E-Power and works to integrate and organize the pieces of the puzzle to carry out highly effective programs for our clients. As an account lead, she runs the day to day programs for a number of our clients, but she is our team's sounding board, chief problem solver and all around organic guru, working hard to ensure all of E-Power's clients benefit from her experience and expertise.

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