As an avid runner, I set my sights on completing a marathon this year. Having run multiple half marathons in the past, I felt ready to cross “run a full marathon” off of my bucket list.

While I was developing my training plan, I couldn’t help but notice a strong correlation between training for a marathon and building an SEO strategy. With these similarities in mind, this SEO marketer instantly became more confident in her training plan.

So lace up your sneakers! We are about to run through the four marathon lessons I learned from SEO; you won’t regret joining me.

Establish a Goal and an End Date

First, you must nail down your desired goal. Without a goal established, you aren’t working towards anything and are more likely to abandon your plan.

I set the crystal clear goal of being prepared to run 26.2 miles by a specific date prior to my marathon and focused my entire training program on achieving that one goal.

For business owners and marketing leaders, your ultimate goal may include anything from increasing revenue with social media influencers in six months to building quality backlinks via content outreach.

To counter any potential setbacks, designate a completion date or a specific span of time for your campaign. It’s important to be gracious with your chosen deadline, ensuring you have enough time to execute your strategy successfully.

Preparing to run a marathon does not happen overnight, and the same is true for implementing an SEO strategy.

When determining your SEO end goal, put it in writing. This will serve as your guide when you begin to build out your marketing strategy.

Build a Plan and Strategy

As you build your plan, make a conscious effort to keep things “slow and small” in the beginning. There is no shame in taking it easy in order to build momentum to achieve your goal. Sometimes, coming out of the gate too strong can do more harm than good.

As you evaluate your progress, look at what tactics are working for your campaign. For my training, it became apparent early on that striding up massive hills and countless stadium stairs was exactly what I needed to get my running legs back.

For your SEO strategy, you might need to strengthen your base, too. This may require drafting new page copy for your website that better addresses your customers’ questions or re-writing title tags and meta descriptions to improve your search rankings.

Tackle Adversity

No matter how perfect your strategy, you’re guaranteed to experience some hiccups along the way, and it’s critical to know how to deal with them.

I got hit with the flu and an upper respiratory infection right at the start of my training. Instead of hitting the pavement and building my endurance, I was stuck in bed.

For marketers, setbacks may come in the form of rejected pitches during your outreach efforts, blog content on your site continuing to be de-indexed, or your search for local directory listings getting a slow start. This might stir up some frustration, but don’t give up.

Keep Working to Achieve the Goal

If you hit a bump in the road, pick yourself up by your bootstraps and try again. Maybe your original plan of attack was misguided or you skipped over some key steps. Treat your setbacks as learning experiences and readjust your plan with knowledge you’ve gained.

Your plan does not simply just stop after a setback or even once you achieve your first big win. It is necessary to continue to keep pushing forward and accomplish your end goal.

Seeing the results of an SEO strategy can take months. But once you cross that finish line, you will see how every second of hard work pay off.

Good luck to you as you run your SEO marathon! For those of you who are struggling to develop a training plan, we are here to help you get started.