How Long Does it Take SEO to Work?
One of the most common questions we get at YEAH! Local is:
“How long will it take to rank my business for this keyword and that keyword.”
In fact, you probably found this post by searching “How long does it take SEO to work” or something similar.
It’s not surprising that this is a common line of questioning. But truth be told, it might not be that helpful a question to ask in the beginning—except maybe as a test.
Allow me to explain:
Any trustworthy estimate is based on in-depth research.
The more research, the more reliable the estimate will be.
So, if you ask your local SEO “expert” how long it will take to see results with them and they respond with something like “6 months minimum”—or higher—from the beginning, proceed with caution.
Indeed, a much better answer might be “There’s no telling, but…”
“We Can Begin with an Assessment”
If anyone in SEO tries to give you a timeline without looking at your website first, be on guard.
Either they are a rookie or a shyster.
In the world of search engine optimization, every site is different.
Ranking for a specific keyword may take anywhere from 24 hours to 2 years depending on your site’s history, your location, and the industry. Plus, Google may let another animal out of it’s zoo at any given moment.
Before top-notch SEO consultants quote anything, they do keyword research, site audits, competitor analysis, etc.
And if they truly know what they are doing, they should be able to find a few areas to tweak your digital marketing campaigns that bring an immediate effect.
The Easy Wins
Undoubtedly, SEO is a long-term strategy.
But SEOs that are really worth their salt know how to look at the full scope of a brand’s online presence and find every possible place for improvement.
Often, the smallest things can have a HUGE, immediate impact.
Sometimes it might be a small edit to the text on a page. Or perhaps the meta-data just needs to be cleaned up. There are even times when a subtle change on social media can gain your website several spots on the Google results page.
Finding these subtle solutions takes both creativity and genuine SEO expertise.
In a major way, our industry helps to keep businesses abreast of all sorts of trends in the digital world.
Often, a website is just behind the times and needs to be brought to date, so to speak.
Just make sure you always have your sights set on your brand’s long-term goals.
Taking Search Traffic Seriously
The Internet generates the majority of leads in most industries.
That’s why SEO brings such a high ROI.
But the fact is that there is often some waiting involved—especially if your goals are as lofty as they should be.
In many industries, the difference between the first and second page equates to a 5, 6, or 7-figure difference in revenue.
Most business owners would gladly wait a year or more for those types of results…
…if only they were guaranteed.
Most clients are unwilling to sign a 6-month, 4 or 5-figure contract if they aren’t extremely sure about the results they will get.
Shady companies can use them to rope you in with no real intention of ranking your website.
But this isn’t always the case.
There are two reasons for this:
First, your site (or entire online presence) may need a complete overhaul in order for you to truly compete in your field. This invariably takes time and resources; more accurately, this takes ongoing resources over time.
Second, all SEO effort should continually build on itself. The climate in your industry may require months or years of consistent effort to begin ranking. That’s just the nature of the beast.
Remember though, it takes a full-scale assessment to see the whole picture.
Legitimate agencies might use 6 to 12 month contracts to ensure that clients don’t get out too early.
Spending months paying service charges to never reach intended goals sucks.
Both sides of our industry want to avoid that.
One of the most important things to have in the marketing world is perspective.
It plays so many parts.
As an Atlanta SEO agency, it’s essential that YEAH! Local understand the perspective of both users and the search engines.
For an SEO client, keeping perspective is what is most important.
However, the responsibility falls on the agency to set realistic expectations for their prospective clients. That’s why so many leading SEO companies have some sort of “Discovery” page or form.
This sets a foundation for the digital campaigns themselves as well as communication about those campaigns down the road.
An agency needs to know everything about the brands they represent. But business owners really only need a basic understanding of the steps involved.
Generally, any SEO campaign has several overlapping phases to it.
At YEAH! Local, we break it down like this:
- Research – We are “Information Architects”, so knowledge is the foundation of everything we do. Website history, keywords, competition, industry, and more.
- Marketing Strategy – Based on our research and expertise, we formulate a plan specific to your brand. We understand when it’s appropriate to shift your image, or simply bolster it.
- Optimization – Living up the search engines’ high standards is crucial. Optimizing all on-page factors is the first step. This includes code, text, media, and everything else.
- Link Building and Content Marketing – Modern online reputation management is a multi-faceted process that takes real ingenuity. You want to create a digital profile that establishes you as an authority.
- Testing – We monitor every facet of your campaigns. Not just rankings but user experience and conversion rates.
- Rinse and Repeat – As we continue to build your brand’s SEO profile, we rinse and repeat these processes on an ongoing basis. This is the only way to stay on the cutting edge.
Modern digital marketing agencies that don’t constantly monitor, plan, and test are destined to falter in their actions one way or another.
SEOs are tasked with building online trust with search engines and users.
As a matter of course, you should look for these types of trust signals when you looking for a company to help represent your business online.
Before you trust any SEO company’s timeline, take a look at their own marketing.
Does it invoke trust?
Remember, they are going to help you represent your brand online.
If they don’t invoke trust in themselves, how are they going to do that for you?
It’s important that you understand some of the basic principles of SEO. But if you own a business in an unrelated industry, you’re best off not forming too many opinions. Internet marketing changes too rapidly for any but devoted search optimizers to keep up.
But it’s easy to think of it in terms of “The 3 R’s”:
Rankings: Do they actually have first-page rankings?
Reviews: Do they have reviews or testimonials for their services?
Reaction: How does their own branding, design, sales process, etc. make you feel?
Of course, having all three is always nice. But truth be told, if an agency you’re interested in has any one of these three in spades, you can probably trust them enough to take a look.
If you’ve been doing your own SEO for years and have had some decent results, feel free to ask a few questions to vet out your consultant.
Otherwise, you’re best off with just a basic understanding and a healthy bit of skepticism.
Once you feel that you can trust them, give them your information. Only then should you consider their timeline.
At this point, it serves as a final check:
When you ask, “How long does it take to get results with SEO?” expect a reply that sets forth realistic expectations tapered nicely with an early win or two.
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