Tackle the SEO Marathon as a Series of Sprints

sprinter starting line
By Matt Neznanski

3 minutes

Search engine optimization work for your website content is never done.

Sponsored by CUES Supplier member Edge

It’s been said again and again that search engine optimization isn’t a race; it’s a marathon. It works as a metaphor to set expectations that content work takes time and effort. It falls short, however, because the truth is that website content work is never done.

Wait, I’m Not Done With the Content I’ve Already Posted?

Well, kind of. There are two factors at play with website content:

  1. Times and circumstances change, and
  2. your goals and focus shift.

So, while you might have done a great job with content at one point in time, it’s not likely to be sound forever. That can be due to forces outside anyone’s control, or new priorities within your organization. Either way, the keys to staying competitive with website content are to know what you have, how it performs, and how it relates to your objectives.

Why Sprints Are Great for SEO Work

In software development, teams will break features and bug fixes into lists of tasks that can be completed within a set period. The method gives them a tangible goal, and a finite time to complete it.

Similarly, working in content sprints ensures that each aspect of SEO optimization gets the attention it deserves. Since sprints can be planned, it’s easier to work them into busy schedules. And, working on similar tasks makes teams more efficient.

How Should We Organize Content Work Into Sprints?

In our experience, taking each part of the SEO content process allows us to address them one at a time. Thankfully, there isn’t a huge amount of overlap.

Sprint 1: Audit your site’s content, 3-5 weeks. This is simply a matter of working through your site and cataloging and annotating every page. We’ve put together a helpful content inventory tool to make it easy for you to track URLs, page titles and details about your existing content.

Of course, you don’t have to do the legwork yourself. If you hire an outside group to perform this audit, make sure they also report on page performance metrics and technical recommendations.

Sprint 2: Technical changes, 2-3 months. Once your audit is complete, work through the list of structural elements to be sure your site is communicating well with search engines. Address load times, review your robots file, review and fix missing or out-of-order heading tags, eliminate duplicate content and check that page titles and meta descriptions are present and accurate.

Sprint 3: Keyword research, 2-4 weeks. Gather your search campaign keywords, organizational goals and messaging, and dig into your site’s search performance data to see how well your intention (and paid strategy) lines up with the content you’ve published.

While you can use the search engines themselves to test keywords when refining your content strategy, keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner speed the process and offer variations and additional insights.

Sprint 4: Content revamp, 3-4 months. Now that you have a clear picture of what’s on your site, how it’s appearing to your users and the search engines, and what your message should contain, it’s time to put it into practice. Work your list of content that’s flagged for removal, rewrite or creation and you’ll be well on your way to the finish line.

Marathon Complete: Rest and Repeat

The great and terrible thing about how search engines have evolved is that they really do put utility and timeliness first.

It’s great because the approach puts people first. Search engines live or die by providing relevant, reliable results to the people doing searches. (And also selling ads, but that’s another topic.) It’s terrible because, as content creators, it takes constant maintenance.

Breaking up each part of the process into steps with end goals and a timeline—and repeating them on a rolling basis—will speed up the process and keep your content fresh.

Matt Neznanski is marketing technology manager at CUES Supplier member Edge, where he helps marketers solve problems using technology. Edge is a full-service marketing partner with 20 years in business.

Compass Subscription