The ‘holy grail’ of hockey is, of course, the Stanley Cup and when we are in the heat of playoff hockey it brings a fan to a new level of excitement. Screaming at the television when our team makes a goal or groaning when they miss an important play is all part of the playoff experience. As a Toronto Maple Leaf fan, I just want to see really great hockey whether or not it’s my team that’s playing.

In the world of SEO, reaching the #1 position on page one of Google is our version of the Stanley Cup. When we first build a website, it’s like the start of the season and we know that it’s going to take a lot of work to reach our goal of appearing on page one in the search results. Being new, we do all the things we’re supposed to (our coach in this case could be a mentor or research we’ve done online) and we come up with a pretty good site that is structurally sound and contains quality content. We start to get some positive feedback and begin to actually see our site appear in the results.

As the season goes on, we find that there are some cheap tricks we can use that will elevate our ranking only to discover that the boost was temporary. Keyword stuffing and link farms are black practices from the past that will come back to haunt you. Search engine algorithms are sophisticated enough to really focus on the user experience. This is where you should be focused too. Instead of putting your energy into dirty tricks, sticking to a tried and true commitment to excellence for your fans will mean they get a quality output no matter where you land on the results page. (Here are Google’s Webmaster Guidelines to help you out.)

Think about that. SEO today is about quality, user experience, user engagement, and about being REAL. The positive by-product of focusing on the USER is that the search engines are too. They reward those sites that are committed to their visitors and penalize the ones who try and trick people into landing on their site. What ends up happening is the better you make your website from a user point of view, the better you will appear in the eyes of the search engines.

That’s a definite win-win – for both the fans and the players. Now go kick some butt.

Marnie headshot is an SEO copywriter, author and project manager. She works with small and medium-sized businesses to develop their marketing and communications and expand their customer base.

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