SEO

8 Lessons SEO’s Can Learn From The U.S. Military

1065156117 c1551aa533 m 8 Lessons SEOs Can Learn From The U.S. MilitaryIn honor of the U.S. Military, I’ve borrowed some common-sense rules from military doctrine and applied them to search engine optimization for both educational and entertainment value. Hopefully, it will help improve your SEO efforts while also acknowledging the organizational wisdom of our military.

1. Clarity of purpose. One of the basic rules of military operations is to have a single, over-arching goal that frames every action. This helps with decision making, keeps troops motivated, and acts as a benchmark for measuring achievement. In SEO, the same rule applies: Everyone is happier and more efficient when the goals are clear.

2. Basic training for everyone. Each and every member of the military attends basic training and learns basic combat and survival skills. The funny thing is, most members of the military don’t go into combat…yet they get this training anyways. The reason: In addition to being great exercise and teaching self-discipline, sacrifice, loyalty, and more, basic training helps everyone understand the most essential military tasks.

In SEO, imagine how much easier your job would be if every client understood the principles of search engine rankings and the importance of content and links. Teaching our clients and their staff SEO basics can be challenging, but it makes meeting our goals a little easier.

3. Review every action. After action reviews (AARs) are conducted at every level of the military—from squad leaders to the joint chiefs. The purpose of an AAR is to review the goal(s) of a specific action, discuss what actually happened, reflect on what can be learned, and evaluate how we can improve our process. In SEO, you can improve your processes by conducting an AAR of every link-building effort.

4. Specialization is the key to a big victory. While there are super-human military commandos who take on big missions all by themselves, most members of the armed forces specialize in one very specific task. Put another way – Rambo exists in the movies, not in real life.

When your SEO mission target is a competitive term, it’s best to break SEO tasks into chunks and then employ specialists to complete each task. This allows you to maintain quality while also working on a large scale.

5. Search engine rankings are just the tip of the spear. A common military analogy is that combat troops are at the tip of a very long spear, and that support troops are both the strength and length of the spear. The point is that soldiers who fight at the front lines are no more important than the soldiers who drive fuel trucks, do laundry, etc.

SEOs must remember that web designers, developers, content writers, video editors, etc. are important to the success of any SEO campaign. All jobs matter when it comes to achieving top rankings.

These last three lessons are one-liners from the famous Murphy’s Laws of Combat.

6. If it’s stupid but it works, it’s not stupid. Many SEO experts (myself included) would agree that emailing hundreds of indiscriminate link exchange requests is stupid. However, I suspect that this stupid link-building tactic works because I get these emails all the time. I’m not saying that we should start spamming webmasters, but it never hurts to reconsider “stupid” ideas.

7. The important things are always simple, and the simple things are always hard. I like to tell new clients that success in SEO is really pretty simple: create great content and then get people to link to it. The hard part is doing it.

8. If the enemy is within range, so are you. One of the things I love about SEO is that, given enough time and resources, most search engine rankings are up for grabs. As a result, while we’re working on ranking a client website for a valuable term, there’s a good chance another SEO expert is attacking your client’s top terms right now. Therefore, SEO is an ongoing task.

Fortunately for me, there is one key difference between being an SEO and a member of the US military – I never put my life on the line for my job. Let’s take a moment to consider the sacrifices made by members of the military and remember this final military adage: Freedom isn’t free.

Post image by Randy Son Of Robert

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Jason Lancaster

Jason Lancaster is President of Spork Marketing, a Denver Internet marketing company specializing in search engine optimization, marketing, and web design.

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14 thoughts on “8 Lessons SEO’s Can Learn From The U.S. Military

  1. Domenick – thanks! I just heard of “embrace the suck”, and I think that would have been a great rule for SEOs too. Too many times we SEO people tend to focus on structural problems that make our jobs harder than they need to be. If we learned to embrace the sucky structures out there, we might be better off in those situations.

  2. “…imagine how much easier your job would be if every client understood the principles of search engine rankings and the importance of content and links….”

    Very true! I won't lie though, the competition would be a lot more fierce if everyone understood the basics.

    1. Interesting…I think knowledge of the basics would definitely make some entities more powerful, but only because they're currently underachieving.

      I also wonder if teaching everyone is different than creating dozens or hundreds of new SEO experts. I see training as 'hey, next time you do send out a press release, remember to use some good anchor text.'

  3. I came through V7N. Nice to reading this post. really valuable points you have stated. we should keep our goals clear otherwise when without planning we start and after sometime we realize that we are on the wrong path. I love the line “Specialization is the key to a big victory.” Very True…

  4. You got a good review of comparing military with SEO. You caught me on no.6 If it’s stupid but it works, it’s not stupid. well yeah I agree with you, though there are lots of emails coming in and out on my emails if let us say 10 out of 20 has been a successful link exchange, that's not stupid at all. And also the last part, as an SEO we are not risking our life compare to military. I do salute on what they are doing for their country. Freedom is not free indeed. Thanks ^_^

  5. Thanks for sharing this informative post with us. Linking SEO with Military is simply innovative and easy to learn.

    Looking forward for some more great posts from your end. Cheers!!! :)

  6. I like the last three analogies as the first ones are pretty obvious. The military doctrine is very simple can be related to any organization. One more thing I can relate SEO with the military is when troops are in battle, constant assessment of the situation and adjustments must be made to win the war. Same with SEO.

  7. Doing SEO is a lot like going to war. And your adversary is just a click away. One miscalculation and you can lose it all, soldier.

  8. The title of the post is interesting. I agree with @Jason who wrote a disciplinary comparison of US military with SEO. Even Matt Cutts suggests that the basic discipline of SEO is to make compliance a site with Google guidelines for better indexing and search results.

    I went through the comments of people and got little uncomforted to know their reactions. I believe the sole purpose of this post is not a comparison between SEO and US military but to make it more disciplinary. And, US military best fits in example here. I have seen a rapid growth of SEO agencies providing services based on a few exercise.

    In gist, the overall post is good and delightful l

  9. LOL, I really like the word “If it’s stupid but it works, it’s not stupid.” Sometimes SEO can be so boring, but it works. When caught in that dilemma, I always outsource my loadings to a company called BPOVIA while I am confusing on some more important things, such as making marketing strategies and so forth. It really helped me a lot!

  10. I came through V7N. Nice to reading this post. really valuable points you have stated. we should keep our goals clear otherwise when without planning we start and after sometime we realize that we are on the wrong path. I love the line “Specialization is the key to a big victory.” Very True…