How SEO is like Football Manager

One of the outcomes of a misspent youth was an addiction I picked up. I am about to come clean as part of a long rehabilitation process by admitting my addiction. It is something I am not proud of and it’s an addiction I have mostly beaten into submission. I was addicted to Football Manager (also known as Championship Manager, CM01, FM or soccer manager for those Americans reading), after getting that weight off my chest, I feel better already.

How football manager is like seo

Photo by Flyworld via Creative Commons

Football Manager is a simulation game, which puts you in charge of running your very own football (soccer team). It is a simulation where you make lots of big decisions and many more small ones and you watch your team either win or lose based on those decisions. I have been lambasted for just watching a soccer team do my bidding as opposed to the more conventional method of playing a sports game where you actually control a team member, but each to their own is my response. There were countless times, especially during university where I would sit down for a quick session and the next thing 7 hours had passed. I recently played again after about a 2 year hiatus and was quickly back into the swing (or kick of things). It got me thinking that there are some striking similarities between Football Manager and SEO.

Initial overload of information

When you start playing Football Manager you are presented with such a wealth of information and stats regarding all the areas of the game that it has been known to scare some beginners into abandoning their managerial aspirations and trying out some less complicated game, like the Sims. However, once you start to learn what kind of information is useful and can be used to your advantage, you quickly learn to focus on the vital stuff and block out all the non-consequential data.

It’s the same when a novice is introduced to search engine optimisation. Sometimes the acronyms alone are enough to scare some previously enthusiastic beginners away. However, if you spend some time with a mentor, or you have a good sense of judgement, you can quickly figure what sources of information to follow and what to ignore. Whether it’s industry news and blogs or the important KPI’s within an analytics program, knowing what’s important to pay attention to, can give you a good start within the field of search engine optimisation.

So many facets

Within Football Manager there are so many different activities that you are in control of that may affect the performance of your team. From team selection, designing training regimes, choosing which players to buy and sell, tactics for match day, stadium ticket prices, contract negotiations etc. Each judgement call can result in a different outcome for your team and in order to do well you have to make sure all the parts of your team are working in synergy to create a winning team.

In a similar vein, there are many different facets of search engine optimisation that need to work together for a project to be a success. You need to get the technical details of the site just right. You need to make sure all the on-page functionality of the site is working well. You need to identify opportunities through keyword research and write content based on that research and then build links to your written content. All these individual elements need to be performing well on their own and adding value through synergy to make your campaign a success.

Will to win

I used to sit in front of my screen hiding my gaze during the big matches, I couldn’t bear the thought of losing, and I wanted to win it all. I have heard hilarious stories of people doing mock press conferences in front of their computer thanking the fans and the teams for their support in a fictional trophy chase. Everyone who plays this game wants to win, bad.

I see the same competitive nature emanating from myself when I deal with SEO. I become euphoric when my clients start to beat their competitors and morose when they don’t. I hide my gaze from the screen before I perform a search for one of my clients keywords, willing it to come up first and when it does, I am covered in glory ( in my own mind at least). I think you need to be at least, a little competitive when it comes to SEO. You should want the project you are working on to come up trumps. That competitiveness stokes the passions of many people I know in this field and makes them so good at what they do.

You can cheat

Some rather unscrupulous(or just plain bad FM) players decide it’s fun to go into the game and change the attributes and skill levels of the players on their team so that they can just win without any work, a little unsatisfying if you ask me. However, it happens, and sometimes it’s even a little bit fun to play in a fantasy team with 11 Pele’s ( or is that 11 Lionel Messi’s), but sooner or later its back to the hard yakka of the normal game to finally win that championship honestly, and those are the victories you savour.

You can also try to cheat in SEO. However, unlike Football Manager there are repercussions. Buying links, stealthy cloaking landing pages and spinning duplicate content can sometimes increase your rankings. However, more often than not your joy will be short lived as a penalty (no pun intended…) from the search engines brings you back down to earth.

Whether you are just starting to play Football Manager or about to delve into the world of SEO, there are a few things you should do. First of all, you need to work really hard at the introduction stages, just so you know what’s going on. Secondly, understand how all the different elements operate individually so you know how to arrange them, so they work together best. Lastly, you should want to win and improve yourself as a manager or a practitioner of SEO.

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