How long SEO takes to work depends on a number of factors. Let’s explore them together…
Six, maybe seven years ago SEO was about getting specific keywords onto page one. That was considered successful, because it could often lead to sales. Build some backlinks, add some content and away you go. Times have changed; and rather drastically too. While simple, short tail keywords are (still) useful, most people search the way they talk—the way they ask questions.
Rather than searching for “movies” or “best movies“, you could see searches like “what are the best movies about love” going into google thousands of times per day.
Users are also more curious and turn to the search engines to look for more information. Check out the increase in “how to” searches since 2004.
This more natural language way of searching has changed how SEO strategies are put together and executed. Much more careful planning is required around question-based searches. Because once you start creating content around question-based searches you have to pay closer attention to buying cycles. You have to understand why someone would make a particular search. And then you have to create content to cater to that person’s needs.
So, how long does SEO take to work?
The truth is there is no hard and fast rule for this. There’s no magic bullet, no formula that will guarantee you results in a given time period. The factors that play a role include (but not limited to):
- How long your website’s been around
- The quality of the content on the website
- How people are interacting with your website
- How frequently you post content
- Mobile Responsiveness
- How competitive that market is for your specific keyword
These are just a few of the things that determine your ranking, but there are heaps more to look at depending on whether you are local brick and mortar store, franchise/multiple locations or ecommerce site.
What can you do to take control of how your website is found?
A long-term strategy is the only way you’re going to be successful. Because SEO is a process; a commitment to providing value and demonstrating your authority in your field. Remember the search engines are wanting to give each customer exactly what they are looking for in the shortest time possible.
To give you an idea of what you would need to succeed, here is an outline of what the first 6 months of a strategy might look like:
This is the discovery part of the strategy. In order to get the most out of your SEO you need to know exactly what people are searching when looking for your product or service. Keyword planning and strategy will lay the platform for the SEO campaign. This lays out the foundations of any SEO campaign and is super important.
For example for keyword research you are theoretically “choosing your battles”. You have the choice to choose keywords that are difficult to beat or you can choose keywords that can you ranking within a week.
Try to be cunning when choosing your keywords, besides going for your standard product or service keywords try targeting specific keywords. E.g Men’s Shirt vs White Men’s long sleeve shirt for tall guys.
You also have the opportunity to target “research intent” keywords on other pages like your blog pages. Try to target problem type keywords and use your blog to solve that issue. how to remove stains from a white t-shirt?
Month one is also when an audit of your website is run. Discovering the site’s current rankings, responsiveness and usability are all necessary to ensure people are interacting well with your site. Understanding what your customers are currently doing is so important in the execution of any SEO strategy.
This discovery and research phase can take more than a month. Depending on the size of your site (and how many you have), this initial phase may take longer than one month.
If you are a local brick and mortar store – here is where Google My business comes into play for some quick wins. Local optimisation has never been so important. I literally just tested this out with a new venture I’m apart of and the difference has been phenomenal.
This is when the audits from month one are implemented. Modifications to your website are made based on the audit—in some (extreme) cases this may mean a complete overhaul of your site. An example of when an overhaul is necessary is if your site is not mobile responsive. This would be considered mission critical over here as this is now effectively part of googles algorithm. You can test your site here if you are unsure.
If an overhaul of your site is necessary, then other strategies such as citations and content creation can still be started. Although in this scenario you may not see any search engine results until your new website is live. Off page work is a perfect way to maximise your SEO strategy if your site is currently inactive. I see this everyday, customer holding off starting due to a site being created or redone, dont let this delay your start date – this will only delay your results.
Month three is the month you start content creation: blogs, FAQs, social media, ebooks, white papers and adding content to existing pages on your site. In an ideal situation you would have started creating content in month one. However, everyone’s budget is different. If you started creating content in month one you should start to see results around now. If you havn’t, have no fear – being active on social media will definitely give you some SEO bonus points.
**Warning** its about to get a little technical up in here.
Updating all your H1 tags, meta tags, title tags, descriptions, images alt tags and all 404’s.
Month Four you will be continuing on with content creation.
And building more local citations along with technical optimisation of your website. Depending on how competitive your industry is, and how much content you have created, you could start to see improved results around now.
Nothing compared to what you would see after twelve months of SEO—but still enough to give you an idea of just how effective SEO is.
Month five will look remarkably similar to month four. With one exception. If you haven’t incorporated social media into your SEO marketing strategy now is the time to do that. Social media marketing will not only compliment your SEO, but it can improve your SEO—and so improve lead generation.
Your SEO efforts should be driving more traffic to your site, which should translate to an increase in leads.
How month six looks will depend on: how much traffic you are getting; what type of company you are; and your website. If you have reached over 3,000 visits it may be time to focus on conversion rate optimisation—that is making sure the traffic going to site is either converting into leads, or you have some sort of remarketing strategy in place.
At six months, you should start to see a steady incline in traffic. This is super important to ensure you ride the wave and continue your SEO efforts from 6 to 12 months.
We had one of clients we work with stop his campaign after 6 months as he saw the traffic increase at that point. He pulled out, SEO stopped and the traffic slowly stabilised within 2 months of his actions.
Getting a result from SEO
SEO doesn’t stop. The longer you maintain a solid SEO strategy the more momentum you gain. Which can translate into more consistent lead generation.
Most companies will underestimate the power of patience when it comes to SEO. If you work on it constantly, your business will reap the benefits.The most important thing to keep in mind with SEO is it is a long-term strategy. If you are looking for something to get leads quickly—you need paid ads. Flick it on and drive more leads, turn it off and “poof” they disappear. And this in itself can be a useful way of generating leads while you wait for the organic SEO to take effect. A healthy mixture of the two can also be a great fit depending on your budget and goals.
The biggest problem we see is Marketing Managers and Business Owners have too much on their plate to focus on staying ahead with SEO. And fair enough, this stuff is bloody confusing.
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Lets do this 🙂