It’s Olympics time–that special time every four years when we all come together and watch the world’s most amazing athletes compete for gold in dozens of different events. Some of us get extra excited during this time–the Olympic Hymn gets stuck in our heads, our sleep schedules suffer, and our inspiration to increase strength and fitness mysteriously heightens. Even Google’s homepage logo has changed every day for the events.

For my fellow Olympic-crazed marketers, here are 8 ways I found the Games to be similar to this industry.

1. You have to play by the head honcho’s rules.

As Internet marketers, we have to play by Google’s rules, and those rules become stricter each month it seems. The basic rules have always been the same: organize your site’s architecture, optimize your site, create good content, get some quality backlinks, and don’t be spammy in the process. Those who find loopholes are often penalized, and algorithms become more and more specific with each update.

The Olympics are a big deal. The rules and regulations held within the Olympic Charter are upheld by a complex network of committees, organizations, federations, judges, athletes, and even the media. The main governing body of the Olympic Games is the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

If you don’t want to play by the rules in marketing or the Olympics, you face de-indexing and disqualification, respectively. Spamming, like doping, isn’t going to fly.

2. There’s a little something for everyone.

In Internet marking, there is a marketing solution for every different kind of business. Whether a  business needs an all-out website redesign, an ongoing SEO link building campaign, PPC management, social media management, conversion optimization, or any combination of those, there’s a professional who can take care of it. Online marketing isn’t a one-size-fits-all industry. Unique specifications are crafted for individual needs.

The Olympics are a smorgasbord of sporting events. If there’s a sport you’re even mildly interested in, you can probably tune in to it during the Games. Events in the Summer Olympics include my personal favorites, swimming and gymnastics, along with beach volleyball, archery, badminton, basketball, canoeing, cycling, diving, equestrian, track and field, rowing, sailing, soccer, wrestling, tennis, triathlon, water polo–even table tennis and racewalking for crying out loud! And within each of these sports are several different events as well.

3. It’s all about the competition.

In Internet marketing, you’ve got to be competitive, because your competitors could very well be out there taking business from you because you’re on the second SERP and they’re on the first. You have to find the most competitive keywords to target, but you also have to strategize. Sometimes you don’t want to target the most competitive phrases because you want the buyers, not the shoppers. In this case, long-tail keywords that your competitors might not be targeting are the gold.

The Games wouldn’t exist without the spirit of competition. We go head to head with other countries, of course, but there are rivalries among our own, as well–which keeps things interesting. Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte competed together as part of the men’s swimming relay team, but also against each other in individual events. The tension and camaraderie come together for a very entertaining event.

4. Scores come down to the most accute differences.

Who shows up in the number one spot in Google for any given search terms on any given day depends on a number of different ranking factors that are constantly changing and being influenced by different things. You could be number one this month, and number four the next. With billions of people making billions of searches every year and constant algorithm changes, your position in the search results comes down to the tiniest details. But even if you work just as hard as your competitor and still remain in the second spot, that’s still a feat in itself.

In the Olympics, it’s painful to see your favorite athletes lose by the most minute fraction of a point or second. In gymnastics where scores are narrowed down to thousandths of a point, perfection is nearly impossible. Some sports, like swimming, would be impossible to judge without technology, which can decipher if one swimmer was .001 of a second faster than their competitor. That, or there’d be plenty of ties.

5. It’s always evolving and becoming more complex.

Like I said before, Google is always coming out with new algorithm updates that shake up the way things are done. Now, we’re on our way to semantic search, we have personalized search, new forms of social media coming out all the time, new software, etc. If there’s one constant in this industry, it’s change.

The Olympics are the same in this way. New sports qualify to become Olympic events (don’t think racewalking was always there…), and new rules and regulations are put forth. What began in ancient Olympia in the 8th century B.C. is now a massive, world-wide “megaproject”–and that requires a lot of regulating to keep it manageable.

6. It takes continuous work to stay in the game.

You don’t “do” Internet marketing once and then you’re done. Even after several months of success, stopping an SEO campaign could easily put you back to where you were before. Even PPC requires constant monitoring and improvement to maintain good results. You can’t set up your social media accounts and call it a day. It takes continuous work to make these things worthwhile.

The same goes for each Olympic athlete. These are people who have dedicated their entire lives to their sport, and if training ceases to be a priority, then chances of success quickly dwindle. Take Michael Phelps, who admittedly didn’t train as hard for these Games as the Athens and Beijing Games. He got off to a rocky start, and for the first time in 12 years, failed to medal in the 400m IM this year. Teammate Lochte took the gold instead! (I know, Phelps came back, and now has more Olympic medals than anyone in history.)

7. It brings us all together!

The Internet is a medium that brings the entire world together. Businesses can easily reach an international audience simply by having a website. The potential reach with the Internet, including various social media platforms, is incredible. Whole global movements catch fire because of the World Wide Web.

The Olympics bring the world together to cheer for our countries and favorite athletes. Although we are competing, we’re not at odds. We see admirable displays of sportsmanship between competitors, who remind us that it is perfectly possible to go for gold and respect others at the same time.

Even the opening ceremony paid tribute to the World Wide Web. Director Danny Boyle asked Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the Internet, to tweet “This is for everyone”, which was lit up across 70,000 LED panels in the stadium. The Olympics and the digital age are intrinsically tied by their ability to reach and bring together everyone.


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