You’ve probably heard from search engine optimization (SEO) specialists that SEO takes time. Results from your efforts are rarely seen overnight. Therefore, you should plan to incorporate other, more instantaneous forms of digital marketing into your overall strategy to tide you over until you start to rank.
Although there may be a wait time to your efforts, we’ve been told that it’s worth it! The work you put in now will have a compounding effect on your results over time. SEO content ages well, which means that you will start to see more and more and more leads coming your way, long after you hit the “publish” button.
Let’s take a look at why exactly SEO takes so long to take effect and provide results for your business.
Factors that Affect SEO
What makes an SEO specialist a true “specialist” in their craft? For starters, there is a lot of trial and error in this work. We’re at the mercy of the all-powerful search engine algorithm. Search engines like Google are constantly updating their ranking factors, all in an effort to improve user experience.
This makes things tricky for SEOs who are consistently optimizing content and webpages to work with the algorithms. The ranking factors themselves may change in priority and therefore affect that webpage that the SEO once optimized to “perfection”.
Here are some of the most common ranking factors that we have found through trial, error, and years of SEO experience.
As a search engine, Google’s number one priority is to organize the information available on the internet, and make that information readily available to searchers based on their query. All in all, the algorithm is looking for clues that the content you’re publishing is helpful to users. One of those clues is the time that a user spends on the page.
Time Spent on Page
When a user visits your webpage after leaving Google, the search engine will track how long the user spends on your site. In Google’s eyes, more time on the page, which ultimately leads to a longer session on your site, means that their query was answered correctly and that your content was truly helpful. If the user spends just a second or two on your page and then navigates back to the search engine, that may indicate that your content was not helpful to them for their query.
Keep this in mind as you create content. Are you answering the questions that your target audience is asking in a concise and helpful way?
User experience is at the top of Google’s mind-hive, and it should be at the top of your mind as well. There are a number of technical SEO considerations that we look at when doing an audit of your website, and many of these factor into providing a positive user experience for visitors.
As a best practice, make sure that your website doesn’t take several years to load.
Jokes aside, you should keep page load times as low as possible. Users coming from Google are looking for an answer to their questions ASAP, and if they need to wait 10 seconds for website widgets and images to load, they might just bounce off your page and look for an answer elsewhere.
Here is a screenshot from Page Speed Insights. Don’t forget to check your scores on both Mobile and Desktop!
Internal Page Linking & Organization
As said earlier, Google’s mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” This means you should make sure that the overall structure of your website is organized and makes sense. Google may punish you for pages that aren’t linked from anywhere, which we refer to as orphan pages.
Did you know that your website has an authority score? This score is referred to as your website domain authority (DA) and ranges from 0 to 100. This score gives a good indication of what search engines like Google think of your site.
For context, a DA score of 40-50 is considered average, while scores above 60 are considered excellent. Some examples of high authority websites include Apple and YouTube, which both have a perfect DA score of 100. Forbes is another example of a high-authority domain, with a score of 95.
Two of the factors that go into your domain authority are the age and history of your domain. The longer your domain has been used or lived on the internet, ideally, the better your score is. You also want to pay attention to other things like the history of the domain. Is there a not-so-perfect history tied to the domain, such as backlinks from a spam website?
A backlink for your site is when another website on the internet links to your website. Ideally, this happens naturally, as you create helpful content that answers the questions of the internet. Another example of a backlink is a website directory that lists your business and links to your website.
The goal is to earn backlinks from other helpful websites with a high domain authority. On the other side of the coin, you don’t want backlinks from spammy, low-domain-authority websites. That indicates to Google that your content may not be helpful and that you are trying to play some black-hat tricks to try to rank.
Don’t keep your blinders on too long when creating SEO content; make sure to look at what your competitors are doing too! There is only ONE #1 spot in organic search for your main keyword, and Google will look at the full breadth of available content and resources to pick the site that they believe answers the query best.
Look at which keywords your competitors are using and ranking for. Do you want to outrank them? Answer your customers’ questions BETTER than them.
How Long It Takes to Rank SEO Content
Knowing what we know now about all of the different factors that go into ranking content, how long does it actually take for SEO to work? We have found that it can take anywhere from 6 to 12 months for your content to start doing its thing in search results. Let’s take a look at why this might take so long.
What Happens After Content Is Published?
After you hit “publish” on that brand-new, SEO-researched blog post, search engines like Google need time to crawl and categorize the new information on your website. New content is published to the internet every single day, so you can imagine that the spiders are working overtime here.
Not only are the crawlers visiting millions of new page URLs daily, but they are also looking at the content to identify keywords and questions that relate to the page. That’s a lot of reading and categorizing!
Why Does SEO Take So Long?
In a perfect world, SEO content would rank instantly, continuously earning you more and more traffic to your website—and, ultimately, more leads that are relevant and lucrative to your business. Although it’s a reality with SEO, it’s almost never instantaneous.
SEO vs. Other Digital Marketing Methods
As stated before, it’s smart to supplement your SEO strategy with other digital marketing methods that may produce faster results until you start to see the fruit of your work on the SEO side of things. Keep in mind that, although these methods are faster, there’s a reason we always recommend SEO as your primary lead-generation strategy.
SEO vs. PPC
Simply put, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a quick win, while SEO is not. With PPC, you’re paying for a spot at the top of Google, and when you stop paying, you lose your spot. With SEO, you’re investing in your own website, which can help you carve out a less temporary spot at the top of Google for more stability.
We’ve talked about many different analogies like this, but think of investing in PPC as going to the grocery store to buy vegetables, and think of an investment in SEO as planting your own garden.
SEO vs. Social Media
Organic or paid social media methods may not be as instantaneous as PPC, but you may find positive results from these efforts faster than SEO. We always recommend that our clients publish and share their new website content to social media channels to help increase new visitors and potential subscribers or customers.
However, social media algorithms can be even more brutal than Google’s. They prioritize content that will generate reactions, clicks, and engagement, which is different from content that is actually helpful to the user. If you want to meet potential clients who are searching for help instead of just looking for entertainment, SEO is the way to go.
How to Know if SEO Is Working
If you’re working with a new marketing agency and want to know if your investment in SEO is working, there are some key performance indicators (KPIs) that you should make sure to track over time.
Key SEO Metrics to Track
- Organic impressions: In SEO, an impression is when your website appears in search results. Ideally, this number will increase over time.
- Organic clicks: Of those impressions, clicks are when someone clicks to visit your website from organic search.
- Organic visits: Here, we want to look at how many visitors are coming from organic search. The composition of organic traffic versus paid or social traffic will ideally increase as time goes on.
- Organic leads: This is the money-maker! How many of your total leads are organic? You’ll also want to, of course, pay attention to how much revenue these organic leads generate your business.
Stay Vigilant: SEO Results Take Time
One of the most important things to remember about SEO is that, although it takes longer than many other digital marketing methods, it has the potential to generate more traffic and leads to your website while also building trust with your customer base. Remember, though, that you won’t see guaranteed results overnight!
If you’re looking for help with building a strong SEO and content marketing strategy for your business, contact Avalanche Creative today!