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SEO Timelines: How Long Does It Take to Get Results?

You might have heard that search engine optimization (SEO) is a quick and easy way to rank number one on Google and get more traffic to your website.

Here’s why that’s wrong.

The truth is…once upon a time, SEO could work quickly.

But as search engine algorithms have evolved and the online space has become more competitive, the SEO landscape has changed drastically.

Every business owner wants to see results come quickly. But when it comes to legitimate, proven SEO strategies, results simply don’t happen overnight.

Any agency that says otherwise is not to be trusted.

Below, we’ll cover the real factors that will affect how long it will take for SEO to get measurable results for your business, as well as the minimum time investment to really get your money’s worth from SEO.

 

How Long It Takes for SEO to Generate Leads and Sales

When it comes to SEO, business owners often ask, “How long does it take for SEO to work?”

Which usually means, “How long before I rank #1 in Google?”

This is the wrong question to ask because ranking #1 in Google isn’t the end goal. The goal is to generate qualified leads and sales opportunities.

In other words, organic search traffic is only as valuable to your business as the revenue it generates.

The real question that you should be asking is, “When will SEO start generating sales and leads for my business?”

Based on our experience and that of our colleagues at other reputable SEO agencies, we can give an estimated timeline of 4-6 months for SEO to begin producing some form of results, which could include:

  • Overall improved average ranking
  • Website being indexed for more keywords
  • More traffic to your website and opportunity to close that traffic

The above timeline represents our average client experience. This is when things start to work, but not necessarily when you achieve your end goal.

There are numerous factors to consider when determining when you can expect to begin seeing SEO generate results. It would be impossible to cover them all in detail here ‒ but some of the most significant factors are:

  1. Competition for high-priority keywords
  2. How effective are the site’s inbound links
  3. Healthy, SEO-friendly site
  4. Regularly published content on the site

1. Importance of Competition in SEO Timelines

Generally, the more competing websites that your business is up against, the harder and longer it will take to see your website climb to the top of search engine results.

In a crowded industry, many of your competitors will have experienced SEO professionals behind them to improve and maintain their rankings. Understanding the level of competition based on your products/services and location will help you get a sense of how long it will take for SEO to get results.

For example, a small local massage therapy clinic will face less competition than a real estate brokerage business serving a large city, amongst many other real estate brokerage businesses. That same brokerage would face less competition than a national-level mortgage company with competitors in every market in the country.

Search results are all relative, and that is the key to understanding why SEO works differently for different businesses online.

2. Importance of Inbound Links in SEO Timelines

Acquiring more inbound links will help your business achieve the SEO success you are striving for more quickly… but it is not all a numbers game.

Quality over quantity, like most things, is always the way to go. Having fewer, high-quality links from relevant websites will have a much greater impact on your overall results than having a greater number of low-quality links from other irrelevant websites.

Acquiring higher quality links are much harder to earn, having them on your website will make it more difficult for your competitors to replicate and compete with you. As well, higher-quality links last longer and keep their effective power.

The speed in which your business online can acquire links takes time, make sure to look out for any abrupt increase in links. This could identify an inorganic attempt at a manipulative ranking and negatively affect your business’ SEO.

3. Importance of a Healthy SEO-Friendly Website

SEO isn’t just about keywords and content. Your website’s internal workings also have a big impact on how it ranks.

When your website appears on a Google search results page, it becomes part of what Google offers its users. And Google cares a lot about its users’ experience.

So, a big part of its search ranking algorithm is focused on checking the ‘health’ of your website. It looks at technical aspects of the site that have an effect on the user experience, like:

  • Site speed
  • Crawl errors & broken links
  • Mobile friendliness
  • Site structure
  • Navigation
  • txt
  • Sitemap

When your site is healthy and SEO-friendly, the work being done on the content and external links side takes effect much faster. On the other hand, a site that is not technically optimized for SEO will move slowly or not at all.

4. Importance of Content in SEO Timelines

Quality content published on your website plays a vital role in how quickly you will see SEO results.

There isn’t a set length/word count for SEO optimized content. It just has to be long and detailed enough to solve the visitor’s problem.

Along with quality content requires consistent content. Maintaining a publishing schedule will encourage Google to come back to your website to read and learn more about your expertise. It also encourages users to return, suggesting a positive user experience that Google’s signals will notice.

If you focus on producing helpful content that answers specific questions your target market may have, you will see results. Users will come, have a great experience and build trust with your brand (possibly reaching out) and Google has more information about you to determine where else you can rank.

SEO Timelines Then vs. Now

To explain why SEO doesn’t happen overnight, it helps to recognize a crucial difference between the early SEO landscape and what we see today.

Old SEO: When Low Competition Got Big Results

In the early days of SEO, it was possible to skyrocket a website’s search ranking by identifying and optimizing for a small number of high volume, low competition keywords.

The trick was to target keywords that were popular, but not competitive.

You could build an entire strategy around these ‘golden’ keywords, climb to #1 in the rankings, and have most of your traffic come from them within a few months.

Nowadays, it’s extremely rare to find a single keyword or small group of keywords that can drive a lot of traffic to your site.

People just don’t search like that anymore. Plus, the web is way more competitive today than it was in the early 2000s. There are nearly 2 billion websites today, compared to just 17 million in 2000, an increase of nearly 11 thousand percent.

New SEO: Targeting the Long Tail

Today, people are adding more words than ever to their searches to get faster, more specific results.

They’re asking specific questions that they need answers to, rather than searching individual keywords and seeing what comes up.

We call these searches long-tail keywords. And search engines like Google and Bing have gotten very good at delivering long-tail keywords relevant results.

Long-tail keywords are:

  • Easier to rank for, because they’re less competitive
  • Generate more revenue, because they’re more specific
  • Account for a higher search volume in total than shorter “golden keywords”

Today, generating search traffic that brings you leads, sales, and revenue means curating a larger number of natural language or long-tail keywords searches that grow and change over time.

Is SEO a Good Investment?

When you have the funds and stamina to be patient with the results, as well as stay in the game for the long haul, SEO is an incredibly powerful marketing tool that all businesses should invest in.

A minimum of 4 to 6 months of SEO services will allow you the time and money to see the results that you want. For businesses that do not have a budget for SEO services for up to a year, we recommend a few key steps regardless:

  1. Make your website SEO and user friendly – you may need a professional to help with this as a one-time project
  2. Work on building out good quality content on your website if you build genuinely helpful content to your target market, it will pay SEO dividends down the road
  3. Consider using additional funds towards paid advertising to start generating traffic to your website

It’s important to remain patient throughout the SEO process. When businesses fail to see results after a couple of months of SEO services, they are tempted to give up ‒ when they could actually see results in a matter of weeks. We often refer to this time period as the “trough of sorrow” in the industry.

 

We as agencies or individuals cannot control a lot of the SEO process. We don’t control Google, their algorithm, or what competitors do. The only thing we can do is understand what Google is looking for, give them what they want, connect with our customers and give them what they want, and we will start to see results.

SEO is not only a science, but also the art of adapting to changes in the industry.

Remember that SEO results increase over time, not overnight. Your results should be significantly better after 12 months than they were after 6 months.

To get the results that you need online for your business, professional SEO services are OFTEN worth the time, energy, and money that you invest.

If you would like more information about our SEO and digital advertising services, please do not hesitate to contact our SEO team here at TrafficSoda.

7 Questions to Ask When Developing Your Lead Generation Strategy

Are you throwing away hundreds if not thousands of dollars a month on online advertising with little to no results?  

Still can’t figure out how to attract more of your ideal customers cost-effectively?  

You might’ve been told that pay-per-click advertising is the answer – but like most things in business (and in life) it’s not as simple as the ‘experts’ make it out to be. 

As you’ve probably noticed, there are literally hundreds of step-by-step guides out there claiming to hold the secrets to lead generation success. Thousands of so-called marketing gurus who say they’ve developed a foolproof method to get your business – any business – more leads than you can handle.  

And that is mistake number one. 

Now, we can’t speak to your situation specifically…but from our experience, this is one of the biggest reasons why so many advertising dollars go to waste: a generic, paint-by-numbers marketing strategy that doesn’t account for foundational facts about your business.

Why You Need to Stop, Think, Ask and Answer

We know you’re eager to hit the ground running. You need new customers, and you want to start acquiring them as soon and as efficiently as possible.  

It can be tempting to believe you can skip ahead to the ‘execution’ phase (aka, the fun part).  

But it pays – literally – to put in the work and ask the right questions early on, because the result is a powerful lead generation strategy that puts the right messages in front of your ideal customers and turns them into real leads.    

These aren’t necessarily easy questions. Developing a lead generation strategy isn’t like a personality quiz. They are, however, crucially important and well worth your time to answer. 

We can’t take you through all these questions right here and now, but we would like to introduce you to 7 of the most fundamental questions you must ask when developing any lead generation strategy: 

  1. What is your lead acquisition cost and average order value?  
  2. What is your marketing funnel? 
  3. What is Happening in Your Market? 
  4. What Are Your Business Goals and Are They SMART? 
  5. Does Your Current Strategy Measure Up to Your Goals? 
  6. Is Your Copywriting Converting Prospects to Customers? 
  7. How are You Qualifying and Nurturing Leads?

1. What is Your Lead Acquisition Cost and Average Order Value?  

Developing a smart and cost-effective marketing strategy to scale your business is no easy task, especially if you are unaware of the costs associated with lead acquisition (cost per lead) and average order value.  

But first, let’s start with defining what a lead is. A lead is any person who indicates interest in a company’s product or service in some way, shape, or form 

Now, let’s define what Lead Acquisition Cost and Average Order Value are and what they mean to your business.  

Lead Acquisition Cost (LAC) are all costs associated with getting one lead, i.e., getting a potential customer.  

Average Order Value AOV) tracks the average dollar amount spent each time a customer places an order on a website or mobile app. To calculate your company’s average order value, simply divide total revenue by the number of orders. 

Wrapping your head around these important metrics can change the way you perceive your business, and how you approach a new cost-effective marketing strategy. Without these numbers factored into your strategy, you could find your business spending substantial amounts of marketing dollars on the wrong initiatives and not producing favourable results.  

The good news is that Lead Acquisition Cost and Average Order Value can actually be pinned down to the cent, and TrafficSoda can help, so you don’t have to feel around in the dark for these numbers.

2. What Does Your Marketing Funnel Look Like? 

The buying process has multiple stages.  

Most people are not ready to buy the moment they see your ad, and for that reason, it is important to warm your customer up so they can go from being unaware and uninterested in your business to engaged and ready to buy.  

At TrafficSoda, we specialize in determining the shortest pathway from your advertising dollar to your sales funnel. To do so, we first start by researching our clients thoroughly in what we call the discovery process. By understanding all aspects of your customer audience, market perception, competitors and sales process and marketing – we can develop a hypothesis, test and refine.

3. What is Happening in Your Market? 

Creating a strategic lead generation strategy starts with taking a close and honest look at who you are as a business. 

What do you do that provides unique value for your customers?  

Have you investigated the full scope of your business and have insight into your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?  

Researching what is happening in your market, what customers are saying about your business and competitors, and the actions your top competitors are taking to stand out, and better align with customers, is a great place to start.  

With this information at hand, you can then produce the right market messaging that resonates with your target audience. 

4. What Are Your Business Goals and Are They SMART? 

Goal setting is an important component when crafting a new marketing strategy.  

What are your current sales like?  

How much would you like to scale as a business?  

What are your timelines for achieving this growth potential?  

By mapping out a clear picture of your ideal business situation and your plans to support this growth internally, you and your team will know exactly what you are working towards. Setting goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound (SMART) can help you set marketing goals that align with your overall business goals.

5. Does Your Current Strategy Measure Up to Your Goals? 

This is a loaded question, so we at TrafficSoda like to focus first on the current number and quality of leads your business is interacting with.  

From here we like to look at overall lead generation strategy, and how it’s managed, monitored, optimized AND nurtured. 

Quality lead generation does not mean you can have a “set it and forget it” mentality. Regular monitoring and tweaking of your marketing is essential to its performance and overall impact.  

What types of data are you collecting and how are you using it to make data driven decisions and improve your overall strategy?

6. Is Your Copywriting Converting Prospects to Customers? 

Is your copywriting aligned with customer needs or is it more ‘You’ focused as a business?  

Copy can almost always be refined to better communicate your unique value proposition to the customer.  

We cannot stress the importance of good copywriting enough when it comes to marketing strategy! Without it, all the time and money associated with your marketing will prove ineffective in converting prospects to leads and leads to paying customers.

7. How are You Qualifying and Nurturing Leads? 

How do you nurture leads? 

Do you currently have any nurture campaigns?  

In the customer buying process, also known as the buying decision process, the customer journeys through multiple stages before making the decision to purchase your product or service.  

Customers online are interested in conducting thorough research, weighing their options and taking their time before making a purchase. This means that you have a unique opportunity to entice, connect, build trust, educate and promote the value of your business. Through constant communication with your audience and helpful email automation.  

It is important to evaluate where your customers are in their decision making and understand the potential objections or setbacks to why a customer may not invest in your business – and address them honestly while providing value.   

Lead nurturing is essential, and in many instances your own sales representatives need to take an active role to ensure that warm leads don’t go cold mid-funnel. It can actually take between 7 and 12 points of contact before getting a sale, so as a business you really want to deliver as much value as you can in advance so there is little to no doubt in a customer’s mind that you are the obvious choice.  

An automated email path is a great way to nurture your leads, build a relationship and humanize your company and brand. If a customer is no longer engaging with and opening your emails after a couple of weeks, it is safe to say that they are no longer a ‘warm’ lead and can be removed from future email marketing.

Start Building an Effective Lead Generation Strategy NOW

Ready to attract more of your ideal customers?  

We want to help you produce the maximum number of sales from your marketing strategy. Contact TrafficSoda to build a powerful lead generation strategy that fills your funnel with quality leads and helps your business scale. 

5 Changes to Make to Your Google My Business Profile Before 2019

There was never a dull moment in local SEO this year, with new updates to coming to Google My Business at a rapid-fire pace throughout 2018. Now’s the time to log in and make sure your Google My Business page is current and ready for the new year.

Let’s get straight to it. The biggest updates to Google My Business in 2018 were:

  1. New dashboard for businesses with multiple locations
  2. Separate fields for Service Area and Business Address (and removing the ability to set a distance-based service area around the business address)
  3. Service menu for service-based businesses and product menu for retailers
  4. Letting businesses set ‘factual’ attributes in addition to the crowdsourced ‘subjective’ attributes (including the veteran-led and women-led attributes)
  5. Videos on the photo dashboard

5 changes to make to google my business profile

These changes affected some types of businesses more than others (some local service-based companies will have a lot of catching up to do) but all of them matter when it comes to understanding how to optimize Google My Business for a stronger local presence.

Here’s how to ensure you’re up-to-date with Google My Business in 2019.

1. Scrutinize Your Suggested Changes

In March of 2018, Google rolled out a new Google My Business dashboard for business owners with two or more listings or locations. It’s much faster and easier to navigate than the old one.

The downside? The new dashboard makes it more difficult to track and respond to Suggested Changes in a timely manner.

A Suggested Change is an addition or change to your listing that either comes from:

  1. A user manually editing your listing information; or
  2. Google’s algorithm finding information about your listing (often from third-party directory sites).

Here’s the trouble: the name ‘Suggested Changes’ is a bit misleading, since the changes don’t always require your approval before they go live.

As the listing owner, you should receive an email from Google whenever there’s a ‘suggestion’; however, those notifications don’t always make it through to your inbox.

Because of this, it’s important that you log in to check your Suggested Changes periodically, especially since the new dashboard makes it harder to notice them.

To see Suggested Changes for a Google My Business listing in the new dashboard:

  1. Log in to Google My Business.
  2. Click Back to GMB Classic in the left-hand menu.
  3. Click Google Updates in the centre column.
  4. Make sure the box next to ‘Google updates’ is set to display All.
  5. Click Resolve updates in the rightmost column to see the Suggested Changes and other updates to a listing.

2. Specify Your Ever-Growing Service Area

Before the update, local businesses could define only their service area as a kilometer/mile radius around their business address. Google realized this was a shortcoming (who actually has a perfectly circular service area?) and turned it around late in 2018.

Now, Google My Business lets you edit your business address and service area separately. Businesses can specify their service area by region, city, or ZIP/Postal Code.

If you haven’t gotten around to updating your service area, here’s how to do it:

  1. Log in to Google My Business.
  2. Click the location you’d like to edit.
  3. Click Info in the left-hand menu.
  4. Click Edit in the Service Area section.
  5. Click the X next to a service area to delete it.

3. Promote Your Outstanding Services

Early in 2018, Google began to allow businesses in select industries to list their services in detail right on the page. Later, they expanded the feature to almost all service businesses, including creative industries and the trades.

The service menu is simple, consisting of just a name, description, and optionally a price for each item. It’s a vast improvement over the previous version of Google My Business’s services, which was limited to keywords like ‘repair services’ and ‘installation services.’

Adding services to your Google My Business page is quick and easy. All you need to do is:

  1. Log in to Google My Business.
  2. Click Info in the left-hand menu.
  3. Click Edit in the Services section.

Recently, Google has begun testing a product menu feature for Google My Business as well. Chances are this will expand to more companies next year, so keep an eye out!

4. Add Appealing Factual Attributes

Attributes are Google’s name for small bits of descriptive information about a business. They include things like:

  • Service offerings (pick-up or drive-thru)
  • Atmosphere (casual, noisy, family-friendly, private)
  • Customer/clientele demographic (popular among students, business travellers, tourists)

Originally, the algorithm compiled a business’s attributes based solely on user reviews and feedback via the GMB Q&A feature – businesses couldn’t edit them.

In 2018, Google refined the attributes system by splitting them into factual and subjective attributes. Now, businesses can directly edit certain attributes. The attributes available (which include acceptable payment types, accessibility options, and whether the business is LGBTQ-friendly) vary depending on the business’s category.

Even if you’re not a GMB geek, you might have heard about the release of the women-led and veteran-led attributes – two socially-conscious tags designed to help customers support local vets, businesswomen, and even businesswoman vets.

There’s also a lesser-known family-led attribute, which could help win the favour of locavores in search of a good old-fashioned family business.

In any case, it pays to take a moment to set up factual attributes that will help customers get to know you. It doesn’t take long:

  1. Log in to Google My Business.
  2. Click Info in the left-hand menu.
  3. Click Edit in the Attributes section.

5. Upload an Excellent Video

Video is one of the most powerful mediums available to us as marketers and you as a business owner.

Online video consistently grabs more views and engagement than still images, and 90% of customers now say that video influences their buying decisions.

The addition of 30-second videos to Google My Business shows Google is serious about getting customers to convert (whether it’s making a purchase or booking an appointment) directly on the GMB platform. For businesses, it’s an opportunity to make a huge visual impact just around the corner from the search engine results page.

What’s Next for Google My Business?

Make no mistake: Google My Business will continue to extend its influence in local SEO in the year to come.

Don’t let the imminent demise of Google+ fool you into thinking GMB is on its way out. In fact, part of the reason Google is sunsetting G+ is because GMB has effectively taken over its function as a hub for customer-brand interactions.

So, what does the future have in store? Based on this year’s developments, you can expect to see even greater emphasis on conversions directly from the Google My Business platform in 2019. Additionally, you ought to pay close attention to your business’s attributes – chances are, they’ll fuel increasingly precise local search results based on ‘intangibles’ like a business’s character and atmosphere.

It’s cool stuff.

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