S.E.O. is a race to be in the top 5 of Google's search results.
(And Bing and Yahoo's because all conversions count, but really mostly Google because that's the majority of searches)
Your analogy today is: Sports. SEO is a marathon. Your company needs to run in it and we’re here to coach you to victory. A user searches for something, and you and figuratively and or literally every other site online race to be at the top of the search results. But it’s no accident who ranks at the top. They’re the ones who trained the hardest, who’ve kept up with all the changes to the rules of the race, and who are never caught off-guard by what a user searches for. So how do you win the SEO-marathon?
How do you enter (prepare your website) for this marathon?
First you train. How long and hard you train depends on the race, your competition, and how strong you are. For SEO, training is the keyword research, market research, cost analysis, site planning, development, contents structure, size, age, scope, popularity and freshness to name a few criteria.
How do you know what race should you should enter?
You shouldn't enter the Boston Marathon if the only exercise you get is driving to the donut shop. Knowing what the most searched for phrases are, and how often the highly relevant searches are done is important, but knowing whether you can train to win that race is crucial. We can coach you to win any race, but how long it will take and how much money you'll need to invest depends on the race. If you want or need to rank highly for highly searched, highly competitive keywords you need to be prepared to pay for the training that will help you win it because your competitors are competing at that level already.
Then you enter the race.
Sometimes you’ll be ahead, sometimes behind, but the races worth winning aren’t easy. The same is true for S.E.O. Each time a user enters a search term, the search engine calculates where pages rank by putting pages through their search algorithm. For some keywords it will be easier to rank highly (for example, your company name, unless your company name is broad, like Acme). For other keywords you’ll be ranked lower and out of sight of the general users. And if you don't have a properly developed site and marketing plan, you'll not show up for any terms at all. What’s important is improving your rankings on as many highly searched keyword phrases as possible at the budget you can afford to spend, to not cheat at the race and get disqualified (Beware of shady "coaches"... Bad SEO companies can destroy your site), and to keep up with all the new training methods out there.
So you placed in the top 5 in your local 5k! Good for you! Now what?
Depending on the race, you probably need to run again. Even if you just run the same race again next year, there are a whole slew of young and powerful sites coming to take your title away. So you keep training to make sure they don't beat you solidly next time. OR, you want to enter bigger races. More clout, bigger prizes. You’re not content with being the champion of the Springfield-Super-Laid-Back-Half-Marathon, are you? No! You want to win the next, bigger race. So you train again. Competition for this one is a little harder, so you train harder, longer, and prepare better.
And when you win again, you repeat.