I’m a bit of a fitness buff – up early each day for a brisk walk with the dog, then down to the basement for my DVD workout du jour. I try to work out most days of the week. I’ve been at this healthy lifestyle thing for a long time. I was an athlete in high school and college, and the habits I developed as a kid have served me well over the years. I like the fact that you can keep after something and through perseverance and daily attention, set and meet specific goals.
That’s probably why I find SEO so appealing – there are lots of similarities to a health and fitness regimen. Here are seven ways to think about the commonalities between physical fitness and SEO fitness:
- If you want to succeed with diet or exercise, you need a plan. The same goes for SEO, whether you’re building a site from scratch or overhauling an existing site. When your goal is weight loss, your plan might require you to write down everything you eat or drink each day to see where you can cut back, then sticking to meals with fewer calories. The goals for your website might be more visits, more engagement and more conversions. You’ll have to determine which changes to the site will help you get more traffic and time on the page (keyword research, content optimization, more engaging content). You should also consider what you can revise (landing pages, calls to action, conversion opportunities) to change your visitors’ behavior.
- If you’re getting started with a fitness plan, you may benefit from the help of a coach – someone who can help you choose the right exercises for your level of fitness. A personal trainer can set you on the right path and help you avoid injury along the way. Likewise, getting help from a technical SEO expert can help you avoid missteps with site architecture and ensure that you’re building a search-friendly site right from the start.
- Exercise caution when getting started. Too often, people begin an exercise program by trying to run too far or lift too much weight – they end up tired, sore and discouraged. When beginning a new SEO initiative, it’s smart to go slow too. Make sure you understand the ramifications of the changes you’re about to make. If you are changing your URL structure, are you also properly redirecting important pages? If you are investing in a new content management system, will the new tool allow you the flexibility to optimize your pages?
- To see results, you have to take action every day. The more consistent you are with a fitness program, the greater your result will be. You shouldn’t expect to be able to do 100 crunches on your first day in the gym, but you can work toward your goal by starting slow and adding to your routine each week. Similarly, SEO is an ongoing process and your success is the result of the cumulative effort you put into your site over days, weeks and months.
- Mix it up. A successful fitness program includes elements of strength, cardio and flexibility. The most successful SEO programs include a blend of content and social, as well as some sort of promotional effort. One aspect of the program without the others will result in an unbalanced and less effective overall outcome.
- Fuel your efforts with quality. A healthy lifestyle requires you to focus on good-for-you food and drink. Likewise, a healthy website is based on high-quality content that is useful and relevant to your desired visitor or customer. Using a social monitoring tool like Sysomos or reviewing search results for blogs and online discussions can help you understand what your potential visitors and customers are interested in, asking about. Provide a healthy mix of fresh, informative and engaging content on your site.
- Get fit with your friends and neighbors. Study after study has shown that individuals who are trying to embrace a healthier lifestyle are more successful if they surround themselves with like-minded people. Social media participation provides this “strength in numbers” element to your website. Reach out via social to make connections with mutually beneficial websites and blogs. Google looks at the sites you link to, the sites that link to you and all the players in your industry or interest area. Be careful about the company you keep and strategic about the partnerships you create.
Finally, I love inspirational quotes about fitness and life; I think these can be applied to SEO as well.
“The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work” – Vince Lombardi
“I am better than I was yesterday, but not as good as I will be tomorrow” – Anonymous
“I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy, I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it”
– Art Williams