September 12, 2014

Fantasy SEO

By Justin H.

The end of summer means that America’s favorite made-up hobby is back in action! Of course, I am talking about fantasy football.

Over 30 million people participate every year, so unless you work by yourself in a coffee shop, there’s a strong chance that you will overhear your coworkers chatting about their respective fantasy football teams at some point. It is undoubtedly a fun hobby and good for some friendly competition, but it does have its drawbacks.

Namely, it cuts into employees’ productivity in the office, projecting for a loss of over $13 billion for companies across the country in 2014, simply from unproductive work time due to fantasy football.
So, where does fantasy football fit into the workplace? Quite literally, running your fantasy team is similar in many ways to running your own business. SEO, or search engine optimization, is becoming more crucial with each passing year as businesses continue to carve out their own niches online. Choosing the proper keywords is a vital strategy to getting the most out of your business and increasing productivity.

Keywords are simply terms that people type into search engines when they want to find a certain product or business. For the sake of this blog post, we are going to pretend that you own a pizza restaurant. With smartphones as common as ever, people on the go will constantly be googling or asking Siri when they want to find some information.

Drafting your football team is similar to drafting your keywords for your pizza place.

Your High Draft Picks

In your draft, the first three rounds are where you are looking to get the most value possible out of your selection. Your first three picks should be players who you have tons of confidence in to stay healthy, stay out of trouble and dominate, regardless of their matchups.

These will be your primary keywords that will carry your business. Your three main keywords should be something like, “pizza”, “Italian restaurant”, and “pizza delivery.” Regardless of what else your business has going on, these three things will be paramount to your success. You don’t want to swing for the fences early in the draft because one misfire could cause a domino effect of disastrous results. You don’t want to be drafting Ryan Mathews in round one, hoping for that fully healthy 15-touchdown season, just as you don’t want your primary keyword to be “brick oven pizza” in hopes of a big comeback. Brick oven pizza is delicious, but it less common than it once was.


The key to putting your team over the top is always accomplished in the later rounds, where owners select some hometown favorites or young up-and-comers in hopes of hitting it big.

Say your Italian restaurant not only serves some great pizza, but also wants to be at the top of the food chain in other ways. After the mid-round selections of some lower-tier niches like maybe “pasta” or “catering”, this is where you swing for the fences in hopes of reaching a bit of an untapped market. This is where you would use keywords like that, or “gourmet”, “gelato” or “calzone”. Every pizza restaurant has pizza, but if your restaurant has other great items like gelato or calzones, it could give you that added boost to vault to the top of the search engines for a long time coming.

Balance Your White Hat / Black Hat SEO

Balancing your white and black hats is crucial to your site. In layman’s terms, white hat is good, but black hat is bad.

White hat SEO is content written for users, and less so for search engines. It maintains its integrity and is implemented not only to be search engine-friendly, but also to ensure that visitors to the website have a pleasant viewing experience. White hat content is easily accessible, and it is done with the intention of sticking around for a long time.

Black hat often looks like an uncomfortable amount of keywords crammed into website content, strictly to slip past the algorithms and make its way to the top. By definition, black hat SEO is meant to deceive and slip past traditional web guidelines for SEO. It tricks users into ending up on their site by cramming an inordinate amount of keywords into small spaces, which may work temporarily, but eventually will get found out and sometimes banned for doing so.

On your fantasy football team, you cannot take too many risks. No players are riskier than the ones who get injured a lot or have legal problems. The balance between black hat and white hat is crucial, so if you want to draft a few “bad” guys with legal or injury problems such as Josh Gordon, Rob Gronkowski or Justin Blackmon, make sure you have some reliable workhorses like Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson or Brandon Marshall to counteract them should something go awry.


Keeping keyword density to a respectable level is a vital part of running a business online. Too high of a number can result in penalties that will send your site’s page views plummeting. A simple way to avoid this is by making sure your keywords aren’t repetitive. The aforementioned keywords will suffice, but what you don’t want is for your keywords to be something like “pizza”, “pizza restaurant”, “pizza delivery”, “vegan pizza”, “stuffed-crust pizza”, “Italian pizza”, “pepperoni pizza,” etc.

This hurts to read. It even hurt me to type. People understand that you sell pizza, but doing this comes off as desperate and will end up hurting you in the rankings regardless of whether or not you are implementing heavy black hat techniques. It also limits your target market to people who are specifically looking for pizza, whereas someone searching for pasta might now be headed elsewhere. If your pizza really is that good, it will mostly sell itself.

In terms of your team, this can be relative in two ways. The first is that you don’t want to be too stacked at one position. If you draft a quarterback in the first round, there is no sense in having two others since your first selected player should be starting every week regardless. Typical leagues only start one quarterback, so having three is overkill. You must have balance at each position throughout your roster.

The second way is that you do not want all of your players to be on the same NFL team, or have the same bye week. The Denver Broncos made it to the Super Bowl last season and are loaded with fantasy superstars such as Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Wes Welker, Emmanuel Sanders and Ronnie Hillman. If you were lucky enough to have all these players, you would surely win a lot of games, but there would be weeks where you would heavily underperform when the Broncos don’t do well. During the Broncos bye week, you would be at an enormous disadvantage trying to fill their spots on the roster. Putting all your eggs in one basket does not work for SEO, nor does it work in fantasy football.

A big key to learning is finding a way to relate to the material. Something as complex as SEO is much easier to understand when viewed in unison with fantasy football. The similarities are right there since, in both instances, you are doing everything you can to vault your team or business into the stratosphere.

So, the next time your boss yells at you for browsing the web for roster updates and potential waiver-wire pickups, make sure to tell him you were just doing some research for an upcoming project, because who is anyone to tell you that fantasy football and SEO don’t go hand in hand?