Can you be the John Stockton of SEO?


James Story

Technical SEO

John Stockton is not a famous name in the field of technology. He hasn’t worked for Google, he can’t tell you about domain authority and he doesn’t even have a Twitter account. What Stockton is, though, is a former National Basketball Association point guard and that means he’s great at sharing.


John Stockton

In basketball, when one player passes to a teammate immediately before they score, the first player registers an assist. It was introduced in 1946 as an official statistic to better gauge how many points players were responsible for by recording how many baskets they created for their teammates rather than simply scored themselves.

Nobody has recorded more assists in the history of the NBA than Stockton. In his career he amassed so many that the next closest player, Mark Jackson, has a little over three and a half thousand less than Stockton. So why should we all try to be a little more like John Stockton when working with our clients?

Point guards need to control the ball, get the rest of the team involved and create assists to help the team succeed. What do we want to do? Create great content, find quality sources that benefit from it and create links to help our clients succeed.

Consider yourself a basketball player, your client is the team you play for and the ball is a great piece of content. What do we do with it?

Start making assists

Good content is there to be enjoyed. If it’s good enough, people will enjoy it enough to share it naturally but if it isn’t pushed by you to begin with, it runs the risk of never getting seen. The best content in the world wont help your client if no-one is looking at it.


Stockton assists


You’ve got the ball, start passing to your team-mates! Share your content with as many different sectors as possible and you’ll rack up links like Stockton racking up assists. Great content is useful for almost everyone. Bloggers, industry leaders, newspapers, charities, schools, universities, government bodies, you name it!

Know your players’ different roles

Notice I said almost. Different times call for different play styles and Stockton always knew when to speed the game up or slow it down. When to get the bigger, stronger guys involved or the smaller, quicker guards. What kind of play-style is good for the game you’re in?

Likewise, who is going to benefit the most from your content? Does it have an educational core and should be passed around schools and universities? Maybe its a competition or a viral video that you want to share to as many people as possible through twitter. The best content has both broad appeal and specific applications.

Have an eye for opportunities

Stockton isn’t just the NBA all-time leader in assists, hes the leader in steals too. A steal is simply taking the ball from the player on the opposing team and he kept his eye on the ball, played tough defence and leapt on every opportunity to create something that would benefit his team.

You should keep an eye on the news, too. If a news story pops up that’s related to your content, be sure to get in touch with who wrote the article straight away! If your content is topical, engaging and shareable then a news article is likely to link to you as it will benefit you both.


Stockton and Malone

Develop Strong Relationships With Reliable Players

For much of his career, Stockton played with this man, Karl Malone. Stockton and Malone were teammates for 19 years and in that time they forged a professional and personal bond with more than half of Stocktons legendary assist total going to Malone, who in turn became the NBAs second all-time leading scorer. Season after season they were perfectly in sync and 10 years after they have both retired, they remain close friends.

So too should we remain with our link targets. If they help out making your content, thank them and keep in touch when the content goes live. If they like an article so much they want to share it, they may be the perfect contributors for another one in the future. We aren’t link building robots, so don’t be afraid to inject some personality and you’ll have a better relationship with those you contact!

Stay loyal to your team

Stockton played for 19 years and for each and every one of them he played for the Utah Jazz. For his entire career he competed for the same team, entertained the same fans and had the same goal in mind.

Likewise, we should stay loyal to our clients. They’ve come to us for honest, ethical online marketing and we must strive to deliver consistent, brilliant service.

And remember, if you’re struggling for content and cant come up with ideas, keep an open mind. Almost anything can be useful and expressed creatively, even how SEOs should be more like a professional basketball player.


Image sources