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SEO for Growth

7 Lessons Yellowstone Teaches Us for Beating Your Competition in Search

Can a TV series teach us how to be better in search? If that TV show is Yellowstone, turns out, it can! Here's what we can learn about beating the competition.

5 mins read time
Haley Kuehl
Haley Kuehl

Mar 03, 2022

If any group of people knows what it's like to fight off encroaching competitors from all sides, it's the Dutton family of Yellowstone fame. As owners of the largest ranch in Montana, the Duttons and their cohorts are no strangers to heated rivalries.

So when it comes to learning how to beat competitors in search, the Yellowstone protagonists have plenty of wise words to share. These are seven of the most powerful lessons Yellowstone teaches us for beating the SEO competition.




1. "It’s the one constant in life. You build something worth having, someone’s gonna try to take it."

John, patriarch of the Dutton family, is the one character who's most responsible for the success (or failure) of the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch. As such, he's keenly aware of how badly his competitors — from land developers to government agencies — want to take it for themselves.

If you care even slightly about your brand's search engine rankings, then you can certainly relate. When your site occupies a desirable SERP position for a valuable keyword, you can bet that whoever is right behind you is gunning for your spot.

So when you're evaluating your search metrics and are happy with what you see, don't get too comfortable and keep John's words in mind. If you want to keep those prime SERP positions, then you'll have to fight for them by keeping careful track of both your and your competitors' rankings.


2. "No one has a right. You have to take a right, or stop it from being taken from you."

It's tempting to view SEO as an entirely merit-based endeavor, especially since Google and other search engines like to present it as such. But the truth is that there are plenty of great brands and profitable companies that never see SEO success simply because they aren't familiar with search engines' unique quirks or have reservations about actively striving to overtake competitors.

Next time you find yourself getting complacent with SEO or trusting that your brand will get good rankings if it deserves them, remember John's lesson and start working to take the SERP spots you want.


3. "You know what work is, don't you?"

As ranch foreman at the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch and John's right-hand man, Rip Wheeler knows a thing or two about hard work. Whether he's taking care of everyday ranching duties or acting as John's enforcer, Rip is almost always on duty.

So when he asks if we know what work is, it's a good reminder that SEO isn't a one-and-done deal. It's a long game that requires hard work and patience, and any SEO strategy that sounds too good to be true probably is.

Yep, that means it's time to break out your favorite keyword research tools and start brushing up on your most important metrics — successful SEO demands some elbow grease.


4. "Living day to day isn’t living, Monica, it’s surviving with no regard for tomorrow."

When John lectured his daughter-in-law Monica about the difference between living and surviving, there's no doubt that he wasn't thinking about SEO. Nonetheless, his statement is just as true for SEO as it is for life in general.

That's because if you want to thrive, then you need a long-term SEO strategy built on proven tactics capable of ensuring your brand's success for years, not just weeks.


5. "There’s sharks and minnows in this world, Jimmy, and if you don’t know which one you are, then you ain’t a shark."

Between Shark Tank secrets for growth and this pearl of wisdom from Rip, we seem to be doing a lot of talking about sharks. But given that these apex predators are at the top of the aquatic food chain, there's a good reason for that.

And as Rip pointed out, if you're not sure if you're a shark, then you're probably not. So if that's the case in terms of your search efforts, then it's time to get aggressive, focus on growth, and start finding new ways to beat competitors in SEO.


6. "Your grandfather used to say you can't fix a broken wagon wheel, but you can use the parts to make a new one."

You might not have much experience with wagons, but you're probably familiar with the more common version of this maxim from John Dutton: "Learn from your mistakes."

Yes, it sounds simple, but it's an absolutely vital element of SEO and growth marketing in general that too often goes overlooked. In short, if your SEO efforts aren't getting you the results you want, then the answer is not to start entirely from scratch or adopt tactics based on your own intuition.

Rather, the smart thing to do is use data to identify the aspects of your strategy that were and weren't working and use that knowledge to take a new and even more powerful approach.


7. "You know, you did something that no one does, Rip. You've outlived your past."

Ranch hand Lloyd Pierce is an old-timer with plenty of experience under his belt, so his insights tend to carry weight. That's certainly true of this quote, as outliving one's past is both rare and valuable.

With the help of evergreen content, though, your brand's content can do just that. Evergreen content is any content that doesn't become irrelevant or outdated with time — essentially, the opposite of those "Best X of 2017" articles that are gathering dust on your blog.

To be clear, there's nothing wrong with time-sensitive content; it just shouldn't be the only type of content you create. By giving evergreen content some love, too, you can ensure your brand stays relevant for the long haul.

Whether patriarch or ranch hand, if there's one thing the protagonists of Yellowstone know how to do, it's create a strong strategy to compete with competitors.

So if you want to rise above the competition in the SERPs and in growth, you'd be wise to pay attention to all seven of their SEO lessons.


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Haley Kuehl

After getting her start in teaching, Haley fell in love with SEO because it let her combine two of her favorite things: writing and getting nerdy with data and code. She now has more than 12 years of SEO and inbound marketing experience with clients ranging from small ecommerce brands to huge associations and SaaS companies.

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