Kaizen: The Progressive Optimization Approach For SEO

Daniel Cuttridge
Sep 12 · 5 min read

I want this to be a brief, virtually minimalist introduction to the what, why and how of kaizen based progressive optimization.

So advanced apologies for the brevity of the article, I may expand this as needed in the future.

The Progressive Optimization Series:

P1 — An Intro To Kaizen: The Progressive Optimization Approach For SEO

P2 — Utilizing SurferSEO For Progressive Optimization (Plus, Free Changelog Template)

P3 — A Framework For Auditing Your Site: Progressive Optimization

What Is Kaizen?

Kaizen is the Japanese word for “improvement”.

In business, the word has always been associated with “constant improvement”.

Continuously improving things is a constant in the Japanese culture of business. It sits behind the successes of brands like Toyota, Sony and even Nike (read about how in Shoe Dog by Phil Knight).

It’s been a constant in my own SEO approach for the last 8 years, my silver-bullet against my competition.

I’ve often simply referred to the larger framework I’ve derived from Kaizen as Progressive Optimization. Calling myself an Essentialist.


In truth, Progressive Optimization takes from Kaizen, Essentialism and much more.

The basis of Kaizen is often shown as:

Plan > Do > Check > Act

Source: Kanabinize

And that’s a lot of what we do in progressive optimization, although in parts there can be more to it…

What Is Progressive Optimization?

Progressive Optimization is an approach, a process. It’s also a mindset derived from Kaizen.

The basis of this approach is as follows:

Moving away from the ‘set it and forget it’ mindset.

Progressive Optimizers believe that the ‘O’ (Optimization) in SEO means we should never be finished.

Most SEO Practitioners believe that Optimization means following a checklist perfectly.

Because we know perfect doesn’t exist, those who practice Progressive Optimization believe that following a list of best-practices isn’t enough.

If you want to get the best results you have to keep coming back…

Build > Measure > Learn > Repeat.

Credit: Tim Klapdor — https://www.slideshare.net/timklapdor/build-measure-learn-rinse-repeat

Not really any different from our Kaizen Plan > Do > Check > Act approach!

This is how you get the best results, and what optimization is really about.

Why Progressive Optimization?

If you care about getting the best results from your work then you need to take optimization seriously.

If your business followed a list of best-practices to get into the top position for one of your search terms (or keywords) then you’d probably feel pretty pleased.

Most people do this. So the winners are often those who can gain the most beneficial competitive advantage.

Who is willing to go the extra mile?

What would happen if a new competitor arrived, who started with the same list of best-practices, but didn’t just leave their optimization efforts there?

What would happen if they returned to that same page on their site every single week to improve things a bit more by using the Build > Measure > Learn approach?

Isn’t it fair to say that them tailoring their approach to each individual SERP (Search Engine Ranking Page) would yield far better results?

The answer is obviously yes.

The reality is that there will always be some hungry individual out there who is willing to do this. And as SEO continues to become more competitive, more people are going to see the light and utilize this approach to beat out those who aren’t willing to do it.

And finally, how do you progressively optimize?

In order to progressively optimize, you need to change your approach.

Instead of thinking about getting an article perfect before publishing it, think about the steps you could take to improve it over time.

How would you go about that? What tools would you require?

Here’s a basic list:

  • A Project File — So you can keep track of all the pages on your site, as well as other data. I recommend Google Sheets for this.
  • SERP Analysis Tools — I recommend SurferSEO (not an affiliate link).
  • A changelog — I recommend creating a basic one in Google Sheets. Or you can make a copy of my free template here.
  • SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) — You need a list of SOPs for yourself as well as any current or future staff.
  • SERP Tracker — I use SERPBook. (not an affiliate link)
  • Optimization Calendar — For best results, you will need to schedule in what you’re working on and when. I recommend creating a basic one in Google Sheets.
  • Google Search Console — Use this for identifying patterns and discovering other terms your pages are ranking for and that you might need to be aware of.

Use all of these things to help you make changes, track changes and analyze the results.

Other things you should know…

As someone who has embraced this approach to SEO… I’ve learned a lot of things over time and I wanted to share a few of those quickly.

  1. Learn about heuristics.
  2. Correlation isn’t evil.
  3. Perform many types of audits.
  4. You don’t have to progressively optimize everything.

And lastly;

Always focus on the 80/20 high-value factors first during your optimization process.

Efficiency and effectiveness matter massively to Progressive Optimizers as even with an Optimization Calendar, you’re increasing your workload a LOT.

You need to use your limited time wisely compared to those doing the bare minimum of optimization.

This is why point #4 is important. Generally, you want to focus your progressive efforts on high-value pages as well.


Progressive Optimization is a whole new way of doing your SEO. It requires you to do things differently, it requires learning different skills.

But it’s worth it, as it gets results and it’ll always keep you ahead of the majority of your competition.

I hope you found this article useful. If so, be kind and give it a share!


Join my On-Page & Technical SEO Facebook Group. 👊
>> https://www.facebook.com/groups/onpageacademy/

Daniel Cuttridge

Written by

SEO Nerd. Founder @ https://pathtorch.com/

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