Why SEO is a bit like cycling

Marketing / 20.04.16
Mark Vaesen

In a previous post I dropped an analogy at the end likening the practice of search engine optimisation to that of top-level cycling.

No, not that those who do it do so with a helping hand from a range of performance enhancing drugs…it was actually to do with the philosophy of David Brailsford, former performance director of British Cycling and now manager of the very successful Team Sky:

The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together.

Marginal gains

This is known as the aggregation of marginal gains. The notion that, by improving a whole host of things by the smallest of margins, you’ll get a huge bump in results. Tiny little things, like teaching the British cyclists how to wash their hands properly,  or re-jigging the team bus to make it more comfy. Do enough of them and you’re cooking with gas – over the past few years this has led to 16 Olympic gold medals and three of the last four Tour de France titles.

How’s this like SEO, I hear you ask?

How SEO works

Well, search engines sort their results using algorithms that have hundreds of factors. The precise amount is unknown – but it could be anywhere from 200 to a massive 10,000.

So if you’ve given yourself a pat on the back because you’ve written one blog post this month, don’t be so sure of yourself. There’s plenty more you could be doing.

The above ’Periodic Table Of SEO Success Factors’ from Search Engine Land gives you some of key ranking factors for both on-page and off-page search engine.

Constant improvements needed

Simply put, focusing on just a handful of factors and expecting your organic search performance to sky-rocket is plain naïve. What you need to do is be aware of as many as possible; constantly tweaking and refining your approach to try and squeeze out that extra bit of performance.