Why SEO is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

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by Anthony Wilson in Research & Strategy

Let’s have an honest talk about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Business owners often approach us with requests to “make a site with good SEO” or “fix the SEO issues,” recognizing its importance but unsure of the process. The problem? There’s a prevalence of “quick fix” companies that promise top rankings but in the end do little to improve results. Here’s the truth: SEO is a long game, a marathon, not a sprint.

Unlike tasks like optimizing page speed or fixing errors, SEO isn’t a one-time solution. It’s a continuous process of making changes, monitoring results, and iterating over time. Why? Because SEO is inherently competitive and constantly evolving alongside search engine algorithms and user behavior.

Key aspects of SEO

1. Technical Audit and Fixes

This might seem like a quick win, but it’s just the first step. A technical audit identifies issues that hinder search engines from crawling and indexing your site effectively. While fixing these issues is important, it’s just the foundation for long-term SEO success.

2. Taxonomy, URLs, Alt Tags, and Page Structure

Creating a clear and logical hierarchy for your website’s content, along with well-structured URLs, lays the groundwork for search engines to understand your website’s content and its relevance to user queries. This is an ongoing process as your website grows and content evolves. The in-page structure is also important to give the search engine an understanding of priority and importance of content and it gives you the opportunity to add more keywords to a page.

3. Meta Descriptions

Don’t forget meta descriptions. While the meta description is no longer as important for ranking, it is still vital to achieve a good click through rate. The description is shown in search results with the page title. If you don’t have a good meta description, a user will not click. The auto description search engines generate are hit or miss.

4. Keyword Strategy

Understanding the keywords users are searching for and incorporating them strategically into your website’s content is crucial. Small companies will usually focus on local keywords or “long tail” keywords that have lower volume but are easier to compete on. Larger organizations are better positioned to go after the high volume but difficult keywords. However, successful keyword strategy isn’t static. Search trends shift, and competitor strategies change, requiring ongoing research and adaptation.

5. Internal Linking

Strategic internal linking connects relevant pages on your website, guiding users and search engines to the information they seek. As you create new content, your internal linking strategy must be continuously updated to ensure optimal flow and user experience.

6. Backlinking

Earning backlinks (links from other websites to yours) is a significant ranking factor. Building a strong backlink profile takes time and consistent effort in creating high-quality content that others find valuable enough to link to. This is also difficult to do because a business cannot control their own back links. The three ways to achieve backlinks are through partnerships, social media or organically through creating content that others link on their sites. Be careful to avoid paid backlinks or link farms that search engines consider toxic. Sites with high authority scores are the best.

7. Content Strategy

High-quality, informative content that addresses your target audience’s needs is essential for attracting and retaining users, and for search engine ranking. Content should be both relevant for users and aligned with the keyword strategy. However, content creation is a never-ending process. Search engines favor fresh content, so you’ll need to continually create new content and update existing content to stay relevant.

8. Monitor Changes

No one really knows the SEO algorithms. The suggestions above work but your individual changes may vary in effectiveness based on the quality of the research, the content written, the sites linked and even your competitors site changes. The key is to constantly monitor to see what works and what does not.

The key takeaway?

SEO is an ongoing investment that requires dedication and patience. While a technical audit is quick, building backlinks and creating content takes time. By consistently implementing these strategies and monitoring your progress, you’ll be well on your way to achieving sustainable SEO success and organic traffic growth.