How long will it take for my SEO to work? This is the big question that we hear over and over from our clients, but it is not that simple. First, you need to look at what you are hoping to achieve from your SEO. What is your focus? Are you wanting to increase traffic to your website, increase subscribers to your blog, gain website authority, sell more products, connect followers from your social media outlets to your website, or all of the above? The biggest misconception is that you can do a little search engine optimization research, apply a few best practices, then your site/blog will magically be #1 in a Google search result. This is not a realistic view. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to get your blog or website to the first page; it just requires consistency and patience in order to be effective. In short, it takes time (and a bit of extra effort) to begin to see results.
Consistency Is Key For SEO
Consistency is key. This can be applied to all parts of your SEO effort. When approaching your website for SEO, be consistent with your frontend content and your backend content – in other words, when writing all page meta descriptions on the backend, be sure those descriptions summarize the content featured on the frontend of the respective page. The big misconception we hear from many business owners is that by filling the meta description with keywords (even if they are not in the main content of the page on the frontend), you will rank for those words in search results. Unfortunately, it takes much more effort than that. It may feel like it is saving time to add those keywords on the backend, but don’t forget to do the same to the content on the frontend of each page. Additionally, real, meaningful content is key and it takes time to write it. In fact, 300 words the number currently recommended as the low number according to Yoast; 300 is a lot of words when you think about it, but it will pay off in the long run. Search engines can only find your website if they have good, detailed content to index – it is that simple.
The same thinking can be said when writing a blog; it is not about how many blogs you release each month or quarter, but rather about being consistent. Your readers will begin to expect your new blog, so be sure to publish a new blog around the same time each month, or each week if you are writing that often.
Content is key here also – it is something you really cannot ignore when it comes to good SEO, so be sure you are writing a blog with enough content. Most research will state that longer posts generally perform better in search results. Further more, posts that include more than 2000 words receive more social shares. This sounds like a lot of words (and it is), which is why Yoast, a popular tool for SEO, also recommends that a blog post contain at least 300 words in order to rank well in search engines. Long posts will rank more easily than short posts. However, long posts require strong writing skills. Not every writer can write readable blog posts containing more than 1000 words.
SEO Requires Patience
Ahhhh, patience. We often tell our clients to “be patient” (not easy to hear, but absolutely necessary). SEO takes time. Think about all of the websites out there on the world wide web (well over 1 billion according to recent surveys), so in order for your website to be indexed – meaning all pages crawled for keywords and content – it is going to take some time. When you begin to make changes to your website for SEO those will also take time to bring about improvement. Much of SEO in actuality is trial and error, and it is continuous. Just when you comb through your site and think you have identified all of the opportunities where you can improve, then you realize there are other opportunities… maybe it is looking at your site structure again, noticing that improving the content on your pages was not enough, and is the basic site structure the best it can be? Are you doing enough to grow your backlinks and social media presence? It feels like there are always more opportunities you can do in that regard!
In order for SEO to “work”, you really need to keep in mind what you are trying to achieve and accept that it will take time. Often we do not see results for 4-6 months, and even that’s on the short side. Be patient, you will get there. SEO includes an ongoing analysis of your digital presence, which can easily be affected by competitors. Having realistic goals is important and knowing what your competitors are doing is important. For some keywords, you may never be #1 – and that is ok – but there are a lot of other opportunities to be #1 or on the first page and, considering the vastness that is the world wide web, first page is really quite good! Why can your website be so easily affected by a competitor? Just a few facts to consider:
- They may be more established, even if they do not always have the best SEO practices implemented on their website
- New websites are built every day
- Perhaps your competitors are more active and/or have a greater presence on social media sites
- Some competitors may simply have better content
These reasons listed above are some of the most common factors in understanding why SEO is ongoing and ever-changing.
Efficient SEO is hard to measure…what makes it efficient? Well, frankly, that is sometimes hard to know. Again it comes down to what you are hoping to achieve or gain from your SEO efforts; if you see improvement, then you are doing well.
Another common misconception we hear from clients is something to the effect of “if we take care of one piece of the SEO puzzle, that will be enough to magically appear #1”. It is a much larger collective effort than that. Good SEO covers all aspects of your digital presence. That phrase seems to be thrown around a lot in this blog… well, yes, because it is true. So what is digital presence?
To summarize the best responses to the question What is a digital presence? posted on Quora (the Internet’s leading Q&A forum), digital presence means you occupy space online. 10 years ago, digital presence meant having a website – today we have social media, mobile applications, and all forms of online advertising to consider when it comes to creating digital presence, therefore it encompasses so much more than just a website. So what does this mean for SEO? You have to take into account your overall digital presence when working on SEO. Look at your website, of course, to make sure your content is relevant. But also look at your social media presence and what you can be doing in order to direct customers to your site. Consider your online business listings. Do you have a blog, and are you writing it with SEO in mind? Search Engine Optimization really encompasses all of these components, which make up your online digital presence; each part should be considered fully in order to be efficient.
So, how long does it take for my SEO to work?
Circling back to the original question now: How long does it take for my SEO to work? Do you know the answer? Well, now you know enough to understand that there is no one, concrete answer. Instead, your SEO picture includes a combination of strategies and pieces. Here’s a recap:
- Look at what you want to achieve from your efforts. Are there still opportunities you are missing – is that why your SEO is not “effective” or delivering the results you had hoped?
- Devise a realistic goal and work toward that goal, then move on to the next opportunity for improvement. Keep doing this until you feel you have really taken a collective look at your overall digital presence. Remember, it is a continuous effort… so just when you think you are finished, there is likely more (or new) work to be done.
- SEO includes many moving parts – it may take a year to focus only on your on-page content optimization. Most companies/clients simply do not have time for this. In that case, look at what you can achieve. Where are the opportunities for optimizing your digital presence?
In order to see the best results, all of these moving pieces must be considered collectively. Some may be difficult to tackle right away and/or take additional time to complete, but with patience and consistency, it will all be worth the extra effort. It can be a daunting task, which is why many businesses will enlist firms to work on the SEO best practices and overall analysis to ensure all opportunities for improvement are evaluated.
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If you have questions about this article or other business topics, please contact us! We are here to help make your business as robust and healthy as possible.
Associate Creative Director / SEO Specialist / Project Manager
Felicia Walker graduated from the University of Iowa with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Photography, with a special interest in Graphic Design and Metal Work. Felicia has since then broadened her skills by continuing education in Web Design/Web Development and Search Engine Optimization. With a passion for photography, attention to fine detail and an overall design aesthetic, Felicia brings a thoughtful approach as Associate Creative Director overseeing the overall art direction of internal and client projects. Felicia also works closely with clients to ensure that each endeavor (whether creative, consulting, web design/development, social media, SEO, etc.) caters to their needs and expectations.