5 SEO Lessons from Game of Thrones

Stephanies Got Post
Stephanie Castillo
August 23, 2017

If you’re anything like the rest of America, you’ve spent your Sunday nights watching HBO’s Game of Thrones for the last 7 years.

Dragons, zombies, British accents – and yes, weird incestual relationships – this show truly has it all.

Surprisingly, GOT also has a lot to teach digital marketers about SEO. Say what?! Here are 5 SEO lessons you can glean from Game of Thrones.

(Spoiler alert: if you’re not caught up on season 7, close this window and fire up HBO!)


1) SEO is a marathon, not a sprint

Case in point – Daenerys Targaryen. Homegirl has been at the game for years.

From taking over the Dothraki, freeing the Unsullied and slowly building her army in Essos to finally crossing the sea to Westeros, she knows the path to the Iron Throne is about the long game, not the short game.

Digital marketers should approach SEO with the same mentality. Optimizing your meta data and writing a few blog posts won’t get your site in the top spot on the SERP overnight. You may not see the results of your efforts for several weeks; in some cases, it can take several months. 


2) You can’t outrank a dragon

Earlier this season, Jaime Lannister foolishly charges at Daenerys and one of her dragons as he sees them as a threat to his army, only to be saved by Bronn from what surely would’ve been his death. (Really bro? You thought you could beat a dragon?)

Similarly, smaller companies frequently set unrealistic goals to outrank the largest brands and win the #1 position on large-volume search terms on the SERP – a difficult strategy that is unlikely to garner the desired results.

Face it: you’ll never win against the dragon. Instead, try diversifying your keyword portfolio with less competitive keywords with lower search volume for some quick wins.  


3) To get ahead, you need influence

If you truly want to play the game, you need to have strong influence. We see this in many different forms across Westeros: Daenerys has three full-grown, fire-breathing dragons, which she uses as dangerous weapons. Varys had his little birds in King’s Landing to spy on the entire kingdom. Littlefinger has his cunning and wit.

Similarly, your site needs influence from backlinks to rank well in the SERP.

Posting content to your blog isn’t enough – the content needs to be seen and linked to. Getting a backlink from a site with high domain authority with relevant, high-quality content will boost your site’s visibility and help bring in organic traffic.  


4) However, that influence is earned over time

Unless you’re the bone-chilling Night King, you’ll need some time to gain influence and trust. Influence must be earned.

Littlefinger has been slowly climbing the ladder and worming his way into nobility’s inner circle for decades. Even Daenerys’ dragons have taken years to grow into their full-blown size.

If you want your site to rank well, you’ll need to build it up over time. Be consistent with posting to the blog. Keep doing keyword research. Steadily build your backlink portfolio. Building trust in the eyes of Google takes time and develops slowly.


5) Speed matters

Just look at Gendry. If he didn’t run like the wind to send a raven to Daenerys, Jon Snow, Jorah Mormont and Tormund would all be dead. Season 7, it seems, is all about speed.

When it comes to SEO, site speed is hugely important – Google has indicated that site speed is one of the signals used by its algorithms to rank pages. In addition, a slow page speed means that search engines can crawl fewer pages using their allocated crawl budget, which could negatively affect your indexation.

And, of course, page speed is also important to user experience. Pages with a longer load time tend to have higher bounce rates and lower average time on page, costing you those coveted conversions.

So, fellow marketers, next time you’re secretly reading GOT episode recaps at the office, have no fear – you can whip out this article and call it “research.”


Ready to take things a step further? Unlike George R.R. Martin, we won’t keep you waiting for more. Learn more about SEO and semantic search here.

Stephanie Castillo
Senior Manager, SEO & Content

Stephanie Castillo is a true Wisconsinite at heart. She’s from Milwaukee (#BrewCrewForLife), attended the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and loves anything with cheese. She was also a competitive Irish dancer for 10 years.

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