Four years ago when Shaun White won the gold in Turin, Italy for snowboarding, the performance he gave then would not have won gold this week in Vancouver. In four short years, White has completely reinvented his approach and in doing so has pushed the sport itself to a new level.

It took White continuous effort and improvement to do it. He has to keep trying new things and evolving his approach. This is exactly what a good key word strategy needs. They also have this in common:

To be at the top of your game you have to continually experiment

You need daring creativity and a go-for-broke attitude

There are going to be some spills along the way

Keywords have baffled me for a long time. I know how important they are to organic search and getting found on the web. Search engines care about keywords. So when I ask experts about keywords, they talk about search engines. This is backwards. What you really need to figure out is your customer.

You need to have an intimate understanding of what your customers are doing not what your product or service does. When Shaun White puts a run together, he is doing it for the judges not for himself. Think about your customer first and foremost.

To start down the path to a gold medal keyword strategy, go ask the last five people that bought from you how they started the process to solve their business problem. What were they trying to do? What would they have searched on if they started with the web? You’ll be surprised by their answers.

Next create a list of one or two words that customers might use to search and then a list of list of longer terms. These are called short tail and long tail terms respectively and they are both important to have in your strategy.

Here’s a little trick: take your top three short tail words and go look them up in the yellow pages. See what companies are under this categorization. Are they your competitors? What do they say about their product or service? Is it different from yours? Sometimes a fancy term we are using to describe our business has no bearing on what our customers would look for.

The most startling similarity though between Shaun White and your keyword strategy is that neither are overnight successes. It takes practice, hard work and lots of trial and error to get it right. But the most important thing is you have to start somewhere. The web isn’t going away so if you don’t have a keyword strategy, you need to think about getting one.

The main difference between White and a good keyword strategy is that RedBull probably won’t offer to build you a $10M experiment tank to hone the craft. That difference aside, there are still lots of useful and important things you can do to move your strategy along. In honor of all Olympians this week, roll up your sleeves and go for gold!