How Long Does SEO Take?

  • April 22, 2013
  • Blog
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So one of the questions that we get asked quite frequently is “How long does SEO take?”.  Clients want to know when they’ll receive a return on investment (ROI) so this question does tend to crop up every so often.  Any good SEO proposal will contain some realistic projections pertaining to timescales for results but there are external variables that might affect these results…namely Google!

When speaking to marketing managers of large firms with regards to how best to spend their marketing budget I come across the same points again and again.  One of the most common points is that some companies are still in the dark ages, they spend the vast proportion of their marketing budgets on traditional types of marketing…i.e. the types of marketing and advertising that they’ve always done.  Are they just in the dark about new types of techniques or is there an element of fear of change involved too? Or could it be a mixture of both?  I, and many other marketeers, would recommend that these types of companies should start to spend a proportion of their marketing budgets on Internet Marketing.  Test it and see what happens.  There are various methods of ascertaining ROI and if positive results are noticed then the proportion of spend can be increased.

When developing a SEO strategy for a client, a part of the process will involve analysing competitors and finding out where the client’s website sits alongside the competition.  This helps me to develop a well-rounded strategy that is likely to be successful.  I can then include in the strategy, details in regards to timescales.  These timescales will pertain to short-term goals – that I like to call “quick wins”, and medium to long-term goals.  I use Pareto’s 80/20 rule to develop a strategy which includes quick wins.  80% of the results are likely to come from 20% of the effort.  This is because there are often some glaringly obvious deficiencies that can be resolved pretty quickly.  Well, they’re obvious if you’re an experienced Internet Marketer of course!

The basics of a successful SEO strategy will always involve finding out where your website sits along your competition i.e. how strong it is.  Gaining this knowledge will help you to see what needs to be done to get where you want to get.  I always say that a website’s Google positions should show a correlation with how god the business is in the real world.  We used to see websites ranked very highly in Google but for businesses that, let’s face it, didn’t deserve to be.  Google has become wiser in filtering out these types of websites and ranking the websites that truly deserve to be at the top.  One of the methods that Google now seems to use is know as social signals.  Social media appears to be influencing SERPS (search engine ranking positions) more and more.  A SEO practioner and Internet Marketer’s job is to help a client to represent themselves online in a truly representative way – in a way that shows their business in a well-rounded way.  There are white papers that state that if you have a significant amount of online reviews and if all of these are rated at 100% then this might actually have a diminished affect on trust from prospective customers.  This is interesting and this negative correlation between number of reviews, score and trust is certainly a fascinating finding.  So this shows us that our online presence must be realistic, believable and not in any way contrived.  This is the way that Internet Marketing should be carried out – in an ethical and realistic manner.  Why am I bringing this into a discussion on how long SEO takes? Because when imparting details of timescales to our clients it is becoming increasingly important to educate our clients in the WHYs of what we are doing as much as we enlighten them about the WHATs of what we are doing.  SEO Reports are always good.  They show our clients what has been done but SEO Reports without results can be disappointing.  If we educate our clients about why we can doing certain things when carrying out their SEO campaign then there can be no arguments.  Results are based on projections and clients must take responsibility for keeping up their end of the bargain.  This means that when we request information from clients then we need to receive it on time in order to stick with the schedule of the strategy.

SEO is just as much of a artform as it is an objective science.  Business involves taking calculating risks and minimising these risks accordingly.  If we suggest a very creative approach to SEO then a client can reserve the right to accept or decline this suggestion.  It may or may not work.  We use certain heuristics, or rules of thumb, to help us to make the right judgement calls but marketing oes have those grey areas where a client just needs to realise that some of their marketing spend will result in great results, some will result in mediocre results and they have to roll with that.  This is what being in business is all about.

So how long does SEO take? In a nutshell, we can devise a SEO strategy and follow through with the implementation.  We’ll need resources to do this and you will have some results, you may have great results.  SEO, in general, a cost-effective form of promoting your business in relation to other forms of marketing and advertising.  It could be that your website is new and competing websites have been around for years, are doing great things in terms of online promotion and are, ultimately, going to be difficult to beat.  So, if this is the case, then you’d better get started sooner rather than later and start to promote your products and services right now.  This will take time, money and resources and you’ll have to budget for that.  Hiring a SEO consultant, a good one, will provide you with the assurance that the bigger picture is being considered and the quick wins can be achieved relatively quickly.  It’s always the more difficultly, more costly and more creatively part of your online presence which will gives you the most headaches, the most risk with your marketing spend and the least assurance that what you’re doing in going to provide a great ROI.  You will just have to deal with this because this is what being in business is all about.  You can get so far on your SEO journey relatively quickly and easily but the last stint will take the most out of you.  I’ll relate this to getting on the first page of Google, maybe to position 10 or 9.  This is usually very easy.  The least experienced SEO practitioners can usually achieve this.  In fact, some search engine optimisers have made a career out of getting clients to “the first page of Google”.  But getting a website is number one position is more difficult.  It requires great skill and great insight into not only what your competitors are doing but also how your unique business is going to get that message out to your prospective and existing clients.  This is a very important part of marketing that too many SEO consultants don’t seem to get right.  Everyone wants their website to be at the top spot in Google organic search results but they don’t get their message right first.  They don’t even get their business right first.  This is why lots of SEO companies will advertise “first page of Google” because it is relatively easy to get a client to rank top 10 in Google.  But since you’ll only really get traffic to the top 3 in Google then what’s the point.  Lots of clients come to Internet Marketing Platinum and me, Michael Greenwood, having used other SEO consultants who just can’t cut the mustard.  They have either been using another SEO company for years and have had good positions but then they’ve dropped due to last years Panda and Penguin Google changes or they’ve never even got the positions in the first place.  Either way, Internet Marketing Platinum use the very best in analysis software along with years and years of experience in the SEO and wider Internet Marketing fields.  In fact, when a prospect or web design client approaches us about SEO, we always tell them about our other Internet Marketing services too.  Email marketing, media buys, social media and so on all play a role in helping a business to receive more targeted website visitors, more enquiries and, ultimately, more business.

So how long does SEO take?  It depends on your goals, your objectives, your existing online presence, your competitors, your budget and the SEO company that you choose.  If you choose Internet Marketing Platinum then we’ll leave no stone unturned!  Call 07702 946224 for a chat with Michael Greenwood.

SEO, Digital Marketer, Web Developer, Web Usability Professional and Geek! I love to keep abreast with the latest in our industry and impart as much knowledge as possible to our readers.

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