Just like sports, with SEO having a solid game plan is integral for achieving your objective.
Unless occupying space below the fold or landing on the third or fourth page of search engines is your goal, then you will need a game plan to unify all of the facets of your internet marketing campaign to achieve success.
What happens when a team goes into a competitive arena without a game plan? The other team employing a solid strategy wins, why, because with randomness and chaos there is no structure and without structure, there can be no accountability or the ability to recreate effects in a systemic fashion.
Since SEO is a process of layering multiple systems to embrace a common goal, depending on how adept each layer is executed and managed and how it aligns with the other layers and objectives determine the extent of the overall outcome.
If we build links to a page with the proper titles, it could get stuck on page 3 vs. the first page of search engines. Likewise, on page SEO without promotion could take months to take effect vs. days with the appropriate off page factors.
Competition is not to be taken lightly and managing multiple keywords, landing pages, structuring content, building links and promoting each page until it achieves authority is not a task to be taken lightly.
Just as some pages are designed to penetrate the defenses of a competitive keyword, others are there to serve as a foundation to anchor a long-term strategy. Each tactic must have a place and knowing when to execute a timely strategy and understanding the scope of the impact it will have is all part of employing advanced SEO strategies to produce the desired effect.
Just like sports, there are benchmarks that one can utilize to measure the effectiveness of each tactic, and sometimes you have to change up in mid game to avoid dependency on dated tactics which have a particular shelf life and expectancy (due to search engine engineers, constantly retooling the algorithm).
The moral of the story here is, start with a plan, hold yourself accountable for achieving your objectives and use time and chronology to harvest data from the past to find keywords and time periods that had a greater yield to reproduce the effect in the present tense. In closing, here are SEO basics that can separate your site from those who have not embraced SEO as a viable platform.