“How long does SEO really take to work?” This is a simple question, often asked by organisations who want to focus or invest more in their digital marketing strategy. While this is an understandable question for a client that wants to measure performance and KPIs, marketers often find it difficult to give a straightforward answer. And it’s not because they are trying to confuse or don’t want to make big promises. In fact, asking how long SEO will take to work might not be the right question after all.
Why Does SEO Take Long to Work?
Often, businesses will ask about a time frame because we all know SEO is a slower marketing strategy. And it is so, because one business’ SEO efforts will be very dependent on their competition and the SEO efforts of their competitors.
It takes time to research your market industry alongside performing technical checks and introducing SEO content strategy. There are, indeed, actions that you can take to quickly improve your rankings, but overall SEO success will depend on the websites you are competing against. In short, it’ll be easier to rank high in SERP if you’re local business, without much competition and your competitors are not putting enough effort in SEO, than if you’re a nationwide service provider or an international e-commerce site, trying to beat competitors on both local and international level.
SEO Then and SEO Now
Back in the day (when the Internet was young…), the base SEO strategy used to be to identify keywords relevant to your business, get the most traffic but had lower competition. Then you’d optimise your website and content around them et voilà – immediate ranking improvements and organic traffic surge. But this strategy is less and less likely to deliver in present times. Following the increased use of mobile devices, voice search and Google’s ambition to match search intent with greater and greater specificity, SEO strategies are shifting towards the use of long-tail keywords.
Pursuing long-tail keywords matches the trend of natural language search, which incorporates more specific details in the query. Long-tail keywords are much more specific, as they include more detail, which positively impacts their relevancy and therefore – conversion rates. Focusing on long-tail keywords means a longer list of keywords to optimise for, some of which will change seasonally or according to industry trends. All of this means a SEO strategy should be evolving, rather than permanent.
The Three PIllars of SEO in 2020
As we established above, a working SEO strategy is a strategy, which continues to observe, predict and adjust according to the latest algorithm and search intent changes. There are three important parts every SEO strategy should have in order to achieve results.
- Always Keep Track on the Competition
An in-depth competitor analysis may be done once or twice a year, but a successful digital marketer will always know where their clients’ competitors stand, what changes they have implemented and if lucky – what mistakes they have made. This is because your own efforts in SEO will depend on those of your competitors. If you want to stay on top of SERP you should always innovate, innovate, innovate.
- Content is King
We say that a lot and there is a reason for it. Keyword stuffing is a thing of the distant past. What search engines want is authentic, natural, flowing content, which will answer the user’s query without causing them frustration and making them leave the webpage prematurely (keyword and link stuffing, we’re looking at you). Another misconception is that the longer your copy – the better it will rank. While this may be true for certain industries, where in-depth explanation is needed to appropriately cover a topic, even a 100 word paragraph can get you a featured snippet – just make sure you’re answering the exact query your target audience might have.
- High-quality Inbound Links Matter
High-quality is the key word here. You’ll hear the word “backlinks” (or, even worse… backlink juice) thrown around by both SEOs and businesses. Organisations with not much knowledge on SEO will search for agencies to specifically “build links” and digital marketing agencies will be promising hundreds of links in ambitious timeframes to secure confused clients. The fact is the sheer number of backlinks has no direct correlation with ranking – this has been the product of multiple clarifications by Google’s own experts.
What truly matters is having high-quality backlinks from trusted domains, which have been earned, rather than paid for. And as they’re harder to replicate by competitors you can be sure you’ll be keeping the competition at bay for a while.
So How Long Does SEO Really Take To Work?
Now that we have established that SEO success is a product of continuous effort the answer is – it depends. You can see some immediate results from long-overdue improvements, if your site has been around for a while but if you’re just starting with a completely new business and domain, anywhere between 4-6 months is the minimum. Another thing to bear in mind is that even though you can absolutely see results in a month, three or six, you will see even better results in 12 months and then – year on year. Once you’ve been working on your SEO for a good year or so you might start seeing less of an increase and more in terms of stability – the goal will then be to ensure maintaining the results you achieved and potentially exploring new opportunities.
There are two mistakes you can make when expecting the SEO results – seeing significant progress and stopping there, or not seeing quick results and giving up.
Now that we know SEO can take various amounts of time to really work, perhaps it’s time to reconsider the question and ask “How long until my SEO strategy starts generating leads and sales?”
At Ricemedia we have an experienced team dedicated to your ROI. We are focused on looking after your digital presence, helping your business through SEO, PPC, CRO and specialised content creation. Get in touch today to find out how Ricemedia can transform your digital marketing.