When someone begins a new marketing campaign, one of the first things on the to-do list is setting goals. And smart goals include clear deadlines. So it’s natural that when someone decides to make search engine optimisation part of their overall marketing strategy, they want to know: “How long does it take to get results?” “When will this SEO campaign end so we can move to the next campaign?”
But search engine optimisation simply doesn’t work like that. It’s not a campaign. It doesn’t end. And even after you’ve reached your goals if you’re not actively monitoring and maintaining, you’ll lose that high search engine ranking that SEO services help you achieve.
When you understand better how SEO works, you can better manage your SEO expectations to get the most out of optimisation. Here’s what every SEO specialist and SEO agency want you to know to get the most out of search engine optimisation.
How Search Engines Decide Who’s On Page 1
Before we can talk timeframes, what ranking does ranking in a search engine actually mean?
When a person searches for something, Google uses an algorithm that attempts to return to most relevant and reliable results while delivering the best customer experience.
Google became the biggest search engine in so many countries because of the power of that algorithm to do this. If they return the results that people are looking for, then searchers (their customers) are very happy. When customers are happy, they keep using Google search. Google makes more money. Google is a business like any other. So they want to make money.
So ranking in Google is primarily about three things:
- Relevance to the search
- User Experience
Let’s break these three areas of search engine optimisation down to better understand reasonable SEO expectations.
Relevance to the Search Results
Being relevant is primarily about copywriting and other content marketing content creation on your website. You’ve researched what your target customers are looking for. Using SEO copywriting best practices, you create high-quality content to target these searches.
Unfortunately, too many people attempting to do search engine optimisation without professional SEO services focus all of their effort here. But without the other two pieces, people never find the content. It never gets a chance to rise in the ranks.
User Experience (UX)
Google has said that it doesn’t specifically use Google Analytics data to judge your site. But this doesn’t mean that they don’t apply similar analytics to determine if you provide a good user experience. Things like load time, bounce rate, session time and number of pages viewed can help Google understand if you have a good user experience.
An SEO specialist ensures that a visitor has a great experience with things like:
- Fast load time
- Effective web design
- Intuitive navigation
It’s important to mention here that if you’re using an out-of-the-box web designer, you will have limitations in these areas and your website may not be 100% optimisable.
Trust or Authority
You’ve heard the saying that “Trust is earned”. Google’s algorithm exemplifies this point. Google gives every website that it crawls a score based upon how authoritative it thinks it is. The more authoritative Google thinks your website is, the more easily your pages will rank in searches.
One of the reasons it takes so long to rise in the ranking is that trust takes time to earn.
An SEO specialist or SEO agency employs several SEO strategies to improve your website’s authority. These include things like:
- Building a social media presence (Facebook, Youtube, etc)
- Updating online directories and review sites
- Networking with other authority sites to earn mentions and links
- Networking with influential people on social media
These strategies help a newer site generate initial traffic so that Google can begin assessing whether or not the site has enough authority to deserve a top spot. When it comes to your website, SEO is an evolution not a revolution. Your site goes from being an unoptimised site to being highly visible in searches.
But how much time does this take?
What Are Reasonable SEO Timeframes
We get it! You don’t want to pay indefinitely and never get results. You need to know you’ll get a return on your investment. Having the right SEO expectations will help you do just that. You’ll realise that search engine optimisation is a long-term investment.
Search engine optimisation is fluid rather than a single destination. it’s not possible to give firm deadlines because every niche is different. But here are some ballpark timeframes where an SEO specialist expects to see some results.
The core website design is complete. The SEO specialist tests your site’s speed, mobile friendliness and functionality. The site is fast and functioning well. If you’re running ads on AdWords or social media, you’ll notice that your conversion rates go up as people are welcomed by a very user-friendly site.
At this point, an SEO agency’s goal is to have your website ranking in some of the easier searches and in some local search results. They’re doing a lot of work off your website to start building your website’s authority. At the same, they’re creating content marketing content so that as the authority goes up all of that content will become more visible.
At this time, they can also begin to see early indicators of how well their strategies are working with your target customers. They’ll make adjustments to further optimise your site.
Between months 6 and 12, a specialist begins to see improvements in your website’s authority. It’s getting easier to rank for harder keywords. Your SEO specialist is analysing the competition and adapting strategies to overtake them. You’re not likely to overtake huge brands like Amazon or Nike though if you’re competing for the same searches. That may take some time.
At 12 months, traffic usually begins to significantly improve. The SEO specialist continues keeping your site optimised and adding fresh content to maintain your search results. If they stop tracking competitors, creating fresh content or adapting to the changing algorithm, then the site will slowly slip. But if they continue to maintain the optimisation, any time or money you invest in search engine optimisation will continue to pay you back over a long period of time.