Formula for Reaching the Top – Pain is Growth

May 29, 2010 · 5 comments

in SEO

A cycling friend, Beverley McInnis, is someone I now call a “Sister in Sickness,” one who is not afraid of pain, of working hard to accomplish what it takes to be a competitive athlete. After a session she conjured up and deemed “Twisted Hill Repeats,” Bev said the following as encouragement to work through the resulting pain:

“Just remember … pain is growth.”

Dana Lookadoo reaches Onyx Summit

Reaching the Top of Onyx Summit

I internally thanked her for the twisted hill repeat workout and the reminder after cycling up to Onyx Summit at 8,443 feet near Big Bear Lake this week. We climbed over 4,000 (correction) 6,000 feet in 62 miles. It was’t an excruciating workout, but given cold winds, it did require some hard work – the pain part. Actually, it was quite fun and rewarding – the growth part.

Pain is growth. Is that the formula for reaching the top?

Putting in time on the bike – hill repeats one day, long miles another – prepared my husband and me for such high altitude climbs in thin air. Our preparation and performance (pain and gain) are minuscule compared to that of the racers in the Amgen Tour of California, a recent 8-day stage race that brought professional cyclists from all over the world to test their strength and vigor over 804 miles.

Watching the pros work through the pain as they finished stage 6 in Big Bear after 135 miles and 12,000 feet of climbing was a huge motivation for me as an amateur cyclist and as a search marketer.

Bike racers will tell you they train themselves to work through the pain.

No Pain. No Gain.

This axiom relates to more than cycling and getting stronger on the bike. “No pain. No Gain.” aptly explains the multiple hours of training and the disciplined execution of skill required to:

  • Win races amidst the top contenders in professional cycling;
  • Reach page 1 of competitive search engine results (SERPs).

Those who win in SEO know a podium performance doesn’t happen overnight. Workouts include writing copy, cleaning up website errors, monitoring analytics, staying ahead of the competition, acquiring natural links and more. SEO requires “Twisted Hill Repeats.”

There are those, however, who want to bypass the hard work and buy links (like taking EPO) to catapult their performance. If you rely on paid links, you’ll end up like Floyd Landis and lose the equivalent of the Tour de France yellow jersey.

Long hours plus non-stop effort is the formula for reaching the top naturally in the sport of search engine optimization (SEO).

ATOC Peter Sagan Wins Big Bear Lake Stage ATOC

Peter Sagan gives it all for the win at Big Bear Lake

Websites that reach Top 10 of the SERPs for their target keywords, are race winners. They have put in a lot time, (long miles) working on the building blocks of SEO. Blog posts one day, long hours building relationships and links another, prepares them for climbing into online visibility.

Winners are willing to work through the pain, get down in the drops and give it all they have to be #1 across the finish line.

Winning Requires a Training Plan

A training plan is essential to winning if you’re racing against high-end athletes or in a competitive market niche.

Amazingly, I’ve heard the following too often from Web agencies who don’t fully understand that SEO must be part of a long-term integrated marketing plan:

Amateur Approach Professional Response
“You can spend too much time planning.” “Too much, maybe, but that doesn’t mean you can shoot from the hip without a monthly roadmap.”
“We’ve done fine so far without spending that much time planning and creating spreadsheets.” “You’ve been damn lucky and not marketing in a competitive niche.”
“We need to show immediate results.” “Maybe you should turn to PPC for short-term immediate visibility or create some kick-ass content.”

Agencies with this approach don’t understand how much SEO is like cycling. Making it to the podium against a competitive field takes considerable planning and time – putting in base miles.

Competitive cyclists spend much of their racing career adhering to a training plan. It’s essential.

  • Most have a coach who guides them and holds them accountable, providing feedback and structure.
  • A coach’s training plan is a critical component to success.
  • The coach monitors the athlete’s performance while keeping a keen eye on the other racers, monitoring their training as well.

Why would going for the win in SEO be any different?

Winners in the SERPs need either an in-house SEO or an SEO coach, someone who has raced before and knows how to create an appropriate roadmap based off their goals, a consultant and confidant who is monitoring the competition along the way.

Crashing & Wanting to Quit

ATOC Dominique Rollin Crash

Dominique Rollin Crashes, Gets Back Up with Attitude

Race hard and give it all you got, and you may crash. Winners get back up and don’t quit. They persevere.

Bike racers and website / business owners will, inevitably, suffer from setbacks and crashes.

  • Some will quit.
  • Some will win or be part of a winning team.
  • Others will change direction.
  • Others will move to new teams.
  • Winners will check in with their coaches and stay on their training plan.

Website owners competing to reach the top of online visibility have, potentially, more to lose if they quit. Many may crash due to Google algorithm changes. As Donna Fontenot noted in a post talking about the challenges faced by search geeks:

“There are still nose-to-the-grindstone, focused people willing to at least try to discover answers to ranking changes within the convoluted Google SERPs.”

The sport of SEO requires focus and nose-to-the-grindstone. Those who prefer to shoot from the hip in their marketing efforts won’t end up on top.

The formula for reaching the top is simple:

You have to want it (badly), stick to a training plan, work through the pain, and don’t quit!

Just remember … pain is growth!

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