It’s the middle of March.
To most people that means that the Easter celebration, the spring season, and a welcomed change in weather are upon us. To others, simply hearing the word March triggers one thought – the NCAA college basketball tournament.
This sports tournament is one of the most famous and followed sporting events in the world. According to The Fiscal Times, nearly 40 million Americans will fill out “March Madness” brackets this year and a total of $9 billion dollars worth of bets will be placed. Technically there isn’t a tourist “off-season” in Las Vegas, although, it certainly does slow down from October through April. However, when mid-March comes along…it’s packed. People flock from all over to sit in Sportsbooks and watch the tournament. I’ve never done it, but I think it’d be a blast…at least once in my life.
The reason why the tournament is dubbed “March Madness” is simple. Each team in the tournament is ranked based on their win-loss totals and the strength of their schedule. To the left is a sample bracket from the tournament some year in the past. Many sports websites, like Fox, CBS, ESPN, etc. have their own version with advertisements on them, but this one is generic.
What makes March Madness “mad” is that this tournament is comprised of single elimination games. This means that upsets are common. On any given night, the 12 seed can beat the 4 seed, or the 7 seed can beat the 2 seed. This year the Kentucky Wildcats are ranked #1 with a perfect 34-0 record. Many people will bet that Kentucky will win the whole tournament and more will bet that they at least will make it to the Final Four. In the end, for each team, it’s all about where they land in the rankings. Sure everyone must win to stay alive, but where they are ranked, and whom they are ranked around can make or break their chances to play far into the tournament, or better, to win it all.
SEO madness is also built around rankings. Most importantly it’s a strategy, and your success with it depends on how well you set yourself up to win. What is SEO? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Essentially it is when search engines, such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. compile information from websites so that when you search for something online, the information compiled can produce the best results – focusing on what it was you were specifically searching.
If you own/run a website, search results are extremely important to you. When your pages have higher rankings, it helps more people find you. The key to higher rankings is making sure that your website has the right components that search engines need in order to recognize your site. This can include:
- Word in Links
According to the website, “Search Engine Land”, search engines account for every word of the web. So if you sell “mini red, white and blue basketballs”, for instance, search engines will narrow the results to pages that are only about those words.
Secondly, search engines also account for every website’s page title. We often don’t see a page’s title because it is buried in the code, but search engines see them. Like a book title, page titles often summarize the page allowing the search engine to recognize it faster.
Third, links between websites matter. When one web page links to another, it’s usually a recommendation. A website that has a lot of trustworthy links pointing to it looks really good to search engines. In addition, the specific words that are used in links matter. If your webpage says, “NCAA tournament bracket” and the word “bracket” is linked to the NCAA.com, search engines will determine that NCAA.com is related to the word “bracket”. This way, when someone searches for “bracket”, that site will rank well.
Finally, search engines care about reputation. Sites with consistently fresh, trustworthy and engaging content with quality links are considered winning sites that rise up the search engine rankings. Winning at SEO means making sure that your website has content that carries this basic strategy.
When simplified, SEO at its base is not a very hard concept. However, it can be vital to how fast a company/website grows. Just like the 68 teams that will compete in the single elimination NCAA tournament this year have all worked, positioned, strategized and performed to get where they are in the rankings, the same is true for SEO madness.