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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.

3 Fatal Risks of Cheap SEO Services (Avoid at ALL Costs)

Here’s the hard truth: cheap SEO is too good to be true.

Just because you’re better than your competitors in ‘real life’ (better products, better workmanship, better results, etc.) doesn’t always mean you’ll get a better search ranking.

Google and Bing search results are extremely competitive.

If somebody’s ranking higher than you, it’s likely because they hired an SEO company to optimize their website.

And the only effective way to outrank them is to beat them at their own game.

There’s just one problem…

Bad SEO is Worse Than No SEO at All

Many SEO companies are more interested in your money than your success.

Doing SEO cheaply is not only detrimental to your website traffic but can also harm your business’s reputation both online and offline.

The long-term risks of cheap SEO include:

  • Loss of business revenue;
  • Getting banned from search results, period; and
  • Handing all your potential search revenue to your competitors

Those are the consequences we want to help you avoid. So, in this article, we lay it all out on the table.

Read on to learn all about:

  1. How, exactly, cheap SEO can tank your business
  2. Biggest red flags of cheap SEO
  3. Black Hat vs. Grey Hat vs. White Hat SEO (and why it matters)
  4. What GOOD SEO can do for your business

1. How Cheap SEO Can Tank Your Business 

Google and Bing are for-profit companies, and their customers are search engine users. This means that both Google and Bing want to give people the best, most relevant search results. Search engines have spent years building parameters to identify high quality, relevant search results.

The problem is that bad actors frequently reverse engineer these parameters to exploit rankings, which results in low quality search results and poor user experience. As a result, Google and Bing regularly update their algorithm to identify manipulative SEO tactics and suss out actions that are fake and spammy.

Cheap SEO services often use manipulative tactics that go against search engine guidelines.

Google and Bing actively scan the web for these shady practices using the most advanced machine learning algorithms available.

You might not get caught right away, but you must assume you will get caught at some point.

And when that happens, you can lose traffic, get block-listed, and potentially forfeit all your future search traffic to your competitors.

a. Cheap SEO Decimates Your Website Traffic

Organic search is by far the #1 source of website traffic online, and the most authentic.

If you successfully rank at the top of the search results, you will benefit from more clicks and visits to your website, presenting an opportunity to turn those clicks into customers.

Poorly done SEO can tank your ranking, meaning customers won’t be able to find you and will click on your competitors instead.
 

b. Cheap SEO Gets You Block-listed from Google and Bing

Google and Bing’s top priority is to create a positive user experience, so penalizing manipulative tactics is smart business for them.

Using cheap SEO tactics will cause search engines to penalize and even ban you, banning you from appearing in search results at all until the issue is rectified.

A search penalty means a real and immediate loss of potential revenue for your business.

If you ignore the penalty, you will find it almost impossible to recover. Your site traffic will continue to drop steadily, leaving you behind the competition and low on stamina to make a comeback.

c. Cheap SEO Funnels Revenue to Your Competitors

Now, you’re block-listed from the search results. So, who do you think all those potential customers are going to click on instead of you?

You already know the answer.

Shooting yourself in the foot with manipulative SEO is like handing your customers revenue on a silver platter.

Plus, ethical SEO practices can take weeks or months to have an impact. So, the more time and money you waste on cheap SEO, the longer you will have to wait for results on good SEO when you finally switch gears.

It’s not worth the risk.

2. How to Spot Red Flags for Cheap SEO 

Hiring cheap SEO services can have serious immediate and long-term consequences to your business that can be difficult or even impossible to recover from.

To avoid them, you need to know what to look out for.

First, there’s some SEO industry jargon you need to know. These are the labels we use to separate cheap, manipulative SEO tactics from legitimate SEO: white hat, gray hat, and black hat.

  1. White Hat SEO services follow the search engine-approved guidelines for optimizing a website. White hat SEO focuses on improving the user experience and creating high-quality content. There is zero risk in using white hat SEO.
  2. Black hat SEO services rely on manipulating and violating search engine algorithms against guidelines to improve your search rankings. The short-term goals of black hat SEO services are to get you fast-paced wins to fool you into thinking their services have the best and fastest results on the market. Manipulating the algorithm is not effective because it can never keep up with Google’s constant updates, which results in your rankings being wiped out due to unethical practices. Black hat SEO is extremely risky.
  3. Gray hat SEO services test the limits of what search engines allow, exploiting ‘gray areas’ in the guidelines. Once a gray hat tactic becomes known, search engines often crack down hard, which will cost you the same way as black hat SEO. The results do not stick well over time and require repeated work. Grey hat SEO is very risky.

No serious business should never engage in black hat SEO. Your website will no longer be trustworthy to users or search engines, and recovery could take years.

Although gray hat SEO is often sold as a ‘medium risk for a medium price’, which can be tempting for businesses on a tight budget, the risk is high and the results are not sustainable. Business owners should avoid this trap at all costs.

Overall, white hat SEO services are the only kind worth your money and time because the job done will be the safest and most beneficial for your business online.

So, how do you know when a company’s pitching you cheap, black/grey hat SEO? There are a few key phrases and promises that agencies will make that should ring alarm bells:


a. Big Promises for Low Price Tags

SEO is not rocket science, but it is not as simple as you might think. It’s not just sticking a bunch of keywords and tags on a website.

Achieving long-term success with SEO takes a lot of manual work that cannot be easily accomplished on a shoestring budget. Either you settle for a very small number of keywords, or you end up paying for the work that really needs to be done.

b. No Long-Term Strategy

Cheap SEO companies will offer you short-term solutions, but this is not realistic.

SEO is a long-term strategy. It takes time to gain the rankings you deserve. If the company you are considering offers no plan past one month, they are more than likely a scam. They are either not doing their job or just looking for quick and easy money from unsuspecting customers like you.

c. No Transparency

Do not trust any SEO company that doesn’t offer you transparency into what they’re doing. It is important that you have visibility over the SEO process so that you can assess the results and make changes as needed.

The best SEO companies will offer a full audit of your site and provide explanations for any errors found. They will also provide recommendations for how to fix these errors, give an overview of how to improve rankings, and show rankings progress.

d. Inexperienced Team

One of the most important things to look for when choosing an SEO company is their expertise and experience.

Do they have a website with a portfolio of websites that they have previously optimized? Do they have testimonials from satisfied clients? Can you find any information on them at all?

An experienced SEO company won’t mind telling you who’s on their team and should be eager to tell you about their experience. If they’re not transparent, they could be hiding something.

e. Guaranteed Results

No one can guarantee a #1 spot on Google.

It is an outright impossible claim to make for an agency, as SEO is a competitive practice that depends on hundreds of signals which can change at any point in the day.

What can be guaranteed are solid and safe practices that can win better results when done properly over time.

Agencies that claim their services will guarantee a specific result in a specific timeframe is one of the biggest warning signs for cheap, black hat SEO that will hurt your business.

What About Using Negative SEO to Attack Your Competitors? 

Usually, SEO is about trying to boost your own company’s search ranking. Negative SEO is when one company uses manipulative tactics to hurt a competitor’s rankings instead.

Negative SEO is gray hat SEO. A negative SEO campaign against your industry competitors is risky because the traffic attacks can be traced back to you.

Search engine algorithms can detect bad links from good links when competitors create spammy backlinks to tank your SEO and organic rankings online.

Search engine algorithms can detect bad links from good links when competitors create spammy backlinks to tank your SEO and organic rankings online. Google will penalize websites for building spammy backlinks that use anchor text to improve their ranking by matching the exact keywords.

Any mentions of negative SEO practices should be shut down immediately, the risk is simply not worth it.

3. The Long-Term Value of Affordable White Hat SEO

White hat SEO isn’t cheap, but it’s effective – and it can be affordable. When done well, SEO is the most cost-effective and reliable way to reach your target customers and understand what they are looking for when they search for businesses online.

Investing time and money into effective, white hat SEO services will benefit your online traffic, leads, and sales in the long run.

  1. Search is the #1 source of website traffic. Organic search is a key way people find your website and become customers, whether you sell products or services online or offline. Being highly visible on Google and Bing is money in the bank.
  2. SEO builds trust and credibility. SEO creates trust and credibility by providing a positive user experience that is easily discoverable on search engines. Establishing authority online through good content results in natural backlinks that boost your ranking. Online credibility takes time, working towards your goals of authority and credibility online takes time, patience, and affordable SEO services from an experienced agency.
  3. SEO boosts local businesses. Using SEO will improve your local engagement and traffic online by connecting users to your business based on their location. SEO professionals can do this by optimizing the businesses website content and including local citations and backlinks to guide the user to their product or service. An experienced agency can provide effective, local SEO services at an affordable price.
  4. SEO is quantifiable. With SEO, you can measure your progress using analytics. A competent SEO agency has people dedicated to connecting the dots and assessing the improvements made through SEO. This information can also be used to maximize ROI and ensure that your SEO remains affordable. Hiring a team that is knowledgeable about tracking analytics and SEO data is essential.
  5. Good SEO means a better user experience. Google is dedicated to providing a positive user experience through relevant search results. Search engine optimization also means optimizing your user experience, so people love using your website and come back for more. Optimizing your website’s user experience will also help maximize the ROI from both SEO and other digital marketing efforts.

 

Bottom Line: Avoid Cheap SEO Services at All Costs 

Cheaping out on SEO is never the way to go. This will only cost you more money and more problems in the future that could potentially be irreversible.

We hope that you now understand the risks of cheap SEO services and the benefits to investing in white hat SEO services that put your success first.

TrafficSoda has built hundreds of successful SEO strategies for companies, like you, looking to increase traffic, leads, calls, online purchases and more. When you’re ready to jump in with a personalized plan, reach out for your free strategy proposal.

How Long Does It Take for SEO to Start Working?

One of the most frequent questions from clients of a digital marketing firm is “When will my search engine business rankings increase?”, or “How long does it take for SEO to start working?”

Google analytics dashboard on tablet

Business owners know the importance of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) as part of their online marketing strategy. They also understand that SEO strategies make it easier for search engines to find them, rank them higher, thereby increasing traffic to their website.

So how long do you have to wait before you see results? The short answer is “it depends”.

There are many variables to optimizing your website, however three specific criteria play a significant role: competition, inbound links, and content.

Competition

Depending on your product or service, there will be varying degrees of demand. The more competing webpages you’re up against, the longer it will take to see results. Depending on how well your competition’s SEO strategies perform, the longer it will take for you to rise in rankings.

If you are spending a great deal of time and effort developing and implementing your SEO strategies, you can be sure your competitors are doing so as well. Every time you post a new blog, your competitor may be doing the same.

Inbound links

The volume of inbound links to your website play a huge role. The quality of those links, the speed in which you gain those links, and historically have gained them also has an effect. The speed at which you earn links should have a relatively stable growth pattern. A sudden increase in links looks unnatural. If your link-building follows Google’s guidelines, that should happen naturally.

A large number of high-quality, high-authority inbound links (also referred to as backlinks) will flag site-crawlers, indicating that your website is an authority in your particular field. It’s almost like gaining a referral from someone for your product or service.

Content

Quality content matters a lot. High-quality content is original, relevant, authoritative, factual, grammatically correct and engaging. Your web pages need have no minimum or even ideal length. They just have to answer the question or solve the user’s problem.

A business blog is a great way to become a resource for information in your field that you add to on a regular basis. Blogs are a great way to increase traffic to your website.

Keep in mind that newer pages don’t rank as well as older ones. This graph shows that the average top 10 ranking page is at least 2 ½ years old.

Google top 10 average age of page graph

Despite this, new content should be added to your website on a regular publishing schedule.

This encourages search engine spiders to crawl your site more frequently and speed up your SEO efforts. Also, users will return to your site more frequently looking for new content, further sending signals to search engines of the popularity of your site. User engagement is built and gauged over time.

SEO is An Investment

Ultimately, you need to be prepared to invest several months to a year before seeing the results of your SEO efforts. Why?  Search engines take multiple factors into account when ranking webpages. For example, Google uses over 200 ranking factors in their search algorithm! The takeaway is this: SEO can have a significant impact on the success of your business, so it is worth the investment of time and money!

Key Digital Marketing Statistics to Take From 2018

2018 was a big year for SEO. Google’s constantly-changing search algorithm evaluates over 200 ranking factors, and SEO is an increasingly complex science. We’ve compiled a list of statistics that stood out in 2018 to adapt to your marketing efforts in 2019.

2018 digital marketing statistics

Better content can increase traffic by up to 2,000%

Content should be your number one priority.

Last year, we witnessed just how big an impact content has on your overall digital marketing and SEO efforts. Informative, high-quality content is the pillar of a successful SEO strategy. The better the content, the more traffic it will drive to your site.

Strategically creating website content around a keyword or set of keywords is the first step in attracting traffic to your site. Blogs are an important piece of content that can work magic for increasing traffic. There are roughly 250 million blogs online right now!

Google is responsible for 96% of all smartphone search traffic and 94% of the total organic traffic

Yes, you read that right. 96%. Only 4% of all smartphone search traffic happens on alternative search engines.

Thus, it’s of utmost importance to have a mobile-friendly and Google-friendly website to ensure users have a seamless experience. As far as we can tell, this statistic will only increase in the years to come. If your website isn’t mobile of Google-friendly, you’ll be left in the dust.

Search Engines drive 93% of website traffic

Think about this for a moment. Almost 93% of web traffic comes through search engines, and just about 75% of all searchers click a link on the first page of their search results, never bothering to move on to page two.

So, how can you get your business to rank on the search engine’s first page? You’ll need three things:

  • Time
  • Patience
  • A solid search engine optimization strategy

SEO is the leading driver of organic search ranking performance on a search engine results page. Before digital marketing took off, most marketing firms would create a brochure, meet with prospective clients and expect reasonable growth throughout their business. These days, that’s just not effective.

Today’s fastest-growing businesses are capitalizing on the digital marketing environment, and SEO plays an integral role. This will definitely be the case as we move into 2019.

WordPress accounts for 27% of websites around the world, but less than half of WordPress sites are up to date

What does this tell us? That it’s important to optimize your website for maximum performance. So, how do we do this?

  • SEO-friendly URLs:
    • Google gives more weight to the first 3-5 words in your URL. Be sure to choose wisely!
  • Titles optimized for SEO:
    • Title tags are one of the most important factors of on-page SEO. For best results, start your title with your keyword, or place it in the beginning.
  • Add modifiers to your titles
    • Descriptive words like ‘best’ and ‘review’ are examples.
  • Optimize your meta descriptions
    • Your description should complement your title. It should contain your main keyword as well.
  • Eliminate thin content
    • When we talk about thin content, we usually think of its effect on search engine ranking, but you should also be mindful of how it impacts your clients or customers. Here’s how to fix it.

SEO has a 14.6% conversion rate compared to 1.7% for traditional outbound methods.

Cold-calling and direct mail are things of the past.

In 2018, we saw a 14.6% rate of conversion in SEO marketing.

That’s high.

SEO is such an effective method, in comparison to mail or cold-calling because it’s a direct response to the things people are searching for. SEO strategies can be tailored to your specific target demographic, much more so than marketing techniques of the past.

The average attention span in 2018 is 8 seconds

8 seconds. That’s how long you have to attract a potential customer.

Each year, that time is getting shorter and shorter as a result of the brain’s ‘digitized lifestyle,’ For example, the average attention span in 2000 was 12 seconds.

This means that your website, SEO strategy and social media efforts must grab the attention of the user instantly.

Looking to learn more about SEO and how it can impact your business? Contact us today to chat about your online strategy.

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