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29th April 2021

What Search Marketing can learn from Formula 1: The parts that make a successful SEO race team

Having recently binge-watched the Netflix series ‘Drive to Survive’,  Formula 1: Drive to Survive (Season 3) | Official Trailer | Netflix – YouTube I can’t help but compare some of the similarities between the industry, and game, that is F1 and the seemingly very different world of SEO. 

SEO in Formula 1

The competition in F1 is tough, there are no prizes for coming over the finish line last, there are only points if you place in the top 10 and only 3 places on the podium. It’s a zero-sum game with obvious ‘winners’ and ‘losers’.

In our SEO world, I liken your website and Search Marketing to one of those F1 teams.

There are only 10 spaces on page 1 of a Google search and you need to be there if you want to be in the rankings race. 

Given that 75% of people only look at page 1 of a search, (10 Stats About Inbound Marketing That Will Make Your Jaw Drop (hubspot.com), it’s vital to make sure you beat your competitors to get one of those pole position rankings. 

How you get a podium finish in F1 is controlled by the car’s engine, aerodynamics, support team, strategy, competitor knowledge and driver. In our SEO world, we similarly are impacted by multiple factors that will influence the ranking of your website. 

SEO F1 Car

So what should you focus on to make sure you rank no. 1 on Google ahead of your competition?

Here are a four, (and very loose 😉) Formula 1 analogies to help explain how to make sure your competition is not pipping you to the finish line:

1. The F1 engine = Content Marketing

In Formula 1, the car and it’s engine are key to winning. A superior car like Mercedes is consistently performing ahead of the competition. So, we need to make sure your engine is tip top, and able to compete with the competitor’s engine.

In this instance, your content creation, superior thought leadership, content outreach and backlinks are the ‘engine’ for your business SEO efforts, driving the marketing activity and creating winning engaging content. However, this does take a lot of time and effort and so it is vital to make sure you have a clear plan to optimise what your team spends their time on. 

2. The F1 Aerodynamics = Technical SEO

Formula 1 teams spend as much time and money on their aerodynamics as they do their engine.  Do you spend as much time on technical SEO as you do content creation?  If not, you should.  These marginal gains from coding optimisation and competitor analysis to analysing page speed, schema and your analytics can be the difference between ranking at the top of Google or not. However good your content/engine is, if the technical SEO is not constantly improving, you’ll have a crash at the most unexpected moment

3. The Competition = The Competition

The reality is that if Mercedes were racing against a Mini they wouldn’t need to spend as much time and money on their car. It’s the same with SEO and whilst I’m not trying to say don’t do SEO, please make sure you stop and actually research and understand what your competitors are doing online. Your race ahead, may not be as hard as you expect. 

F1 teams spend huge efforts trying to understand all the finer points of what the competition is up to.  So make sure you spend time to understand why your competitor is ahead of you in a search. What’s giving them the edge? Do you really need a brand new car or will a small smart tweak do the job? Make sure you spend time not just creating the offsite content that you need to, but look at the finer technical details of your site, and tweak and change if needed to get some quick wins.  

4. The Driver = The Strategy & Marketing Manager

For me, Lewis Hamilton is an outstanding driver, but arguably, because of the team behind it and the Mercedes car, they would still win a lot of races with one of the ‘less experienced’ drivers from other teams. Equally, a great driver can’t win a race in a slower car.  

So as far as Search Marketing is concerned, if your strategy and digital marketing team have a poor sense of technical SEO knowledge and understanding, you may never succeed. Make sure you have the Lewis Hamilton of search marketing managers or seek support and guidance from those that can help. We are increasingly supporting our clients with Search Marketing Mentoring so their team can win. Could your business benefit from SEO Mentoring? (varn.co.uk)

Whatever you do, like a F1 team,  you must make sure it is cost effective, constantly evolving and the time/investment spent can actually drive a good return on investment.  

It’s very common to rip up the current marketing strategy and start again, but as we have seen with many clients and their websites, maybe you need to keep what you’re already doing and focus on the changes which will make it simply perform better.

Get in touch with Varn to perform better

If we can help you take your SEO engine apart have a good look under the bonnet of you and your competition’s search marketing, then do get in touch with the team at Varn.

Article by: Tom, Managing Director of Varn Digital Marketing More articles by Tom

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