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What An NHL Lockout Has In Common With SEO

Posted by Kristine Esser

October 29, 2012 at 10:06 AM

As some of you may know, the National Hockey League is currently on a lockout. Being a hockey fan, this is particularly rough for me. While this tragic event is happening, there are also some major changes happening in the SEO industry. Although the changes happening in SEO aren’t as sad as the current plight of NHL fans, it’s still a more drastic switch-up than many of us are used to.

Algorithm Updates vs. Lockout

An algorithm update to an SEO is like finding out there will be an NHL lockout for a hockey fan. At first there might be some panic – but taking a big picture approach can help. Searching for the cause of changes, then looking for ways to deal with that change, can give you the tools to cope—whether you’re a sports fan or a part of the SEO industry.

Penguin and Mr. Bettman

It’s fair to say that neither of these entities are well-liked at the moment. Let’s look at each one and why they’re both losing fans across the board.

Empty Arena

Penguin came onto the scene in April 2012 as the “over-optimized penalty” and “webspam” update. This means everyone who had been working on the optimization for their sites with keyword-rich on-page content and appropriate link placement was now being told they’d be knocked down in rankings. For many this was a significant update; countless websites saw ranking tank, while sites of lower quality were promoted by default. This had many SEOs and their clients crying themselves to sleep at night. But with some fine tuning, what’s now being “de-optimizing” pages may help brands and their page regain their rightful place among the SERPs.

Then, there’s NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. This man is the equivalent of an algorithm update for hockey fans, coming from out of nowhere with problems causing endless headaches for players and fans alike. In the 20 years that Bettman has been the commissioner of the NHL, there have been three lockouts – which, to a hockey fan, feels like the same meddlesome frequency SEOs feel after Google updates. Luckily, the league has always bounced back after a lockout due to the loyalty to the sport and teams that the fans and players possess. Sound familiar?

Finding alternatives in the mean time

With the most recent Google updates and the ones soon to follow, SEOs have to find new ways to help their clients rank aside than just architecture and link placement. The best way I have heard it described was by Doug Karr at Blog Indiana, he said that these updates “are no longer just a math problem, but a human problem.” This means SEOs need to switch up their game and add other tactics that haven’t always been used before. These alternatives are usually including various forms of inbound marketing and social media. The result can mean creating successful campaigns with Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. This is transforming our job landscape, making us more well-rounded marketers instead focusing just on SEO. This is an exciting time but, like any new task, can also be daunting.

So, what does this mean for hockey fans? We too have to find alternatives to get through the current lockout—after all, you can’t just go cold turkey on that sport. This has led many of us to start watching other hockey leagues, like Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) and minor league outfits like the American Hockey League (AHL) and United States Hockey League (USHL) – and don’t forget about watching the Canadian Women’s League! No matter what you pick, it’s sure to be a change to your usual strategy and routine. It takes a little bit to get used to, but once you do you can become an expert on that league and cheer on your favorite teams until the NHL starts back up again.

The expression “change is good” isn’t always true – many people still dislike change or have trouble adjusting to it. But if there are any people on this planet used to shake ups and able to acclimate themselves to just about anything, it’s SEOs and NHL fans. We’ve made it through this before, and we will do it again – and come out with cooler strategies we did before.

Image Credit: conniekim

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