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How Quickly Can I Expect to see SEO Results?

In a recent conversation with a client we were discussing that age old client/agency SEO question: “how quickly can I expect to see SEO results?”

Written By
Dan Partridge

This is clearly an important consideration for every business which invests in SEO services. Unlike traditional advertising methods such as newspaper and radio advertising, investing in a medium to long-term SEO strategy is unlikely to deliver overnight results. We all know that an effective SEO campaign has the potential to generate a huge ROI and make an impressive contribution to an organisation’s influence, web presence and ultimately turnover. The question we’re really wondering about is that voiced by our client…

How Quickly Can I Expect to see SEO Results?

In our client meeting we explained that whilst SEO is far from an exact science (in recent years search engines have been keen to move away from notions of a ‘magic SEO formula’ to a more holistic evaluation of a website’s true value to a searcher) we normally expect to see some strong preliminary results in 3-6 months.

This time-frame gives us an opportunity to develop an initial SEO strategy, make necessary technical improvements to the client’s website and start producing engaging content that connects the client’s business with their current and potential customer base.

Indicating to our clients that initial growth tends to take 3-6 months also helps us to provide a realistic, honest appraisal of probable SEO results.

However, that’s not to say that we’re not pursuing overnight results. We are. We know that it’s possible to generate a big upturn in traffic reasonably quickly, particularly when we target long-tail keywords and deliver a holistic search & social marketing strategy that connects with every area of a client’s online presence. There’s no reason why individual articles shouldn’t hit page #1 for their chosen keyword within 7-10 days. Furthermore, if you’ve already got an audience lined up in the form of an email marketing and social media following, early SEO efforts should results in a pick-up in repeat web traffic and an opportunity to convert more users into paying customers.

Similarly, Pay-Per-Click campaigns allow organisations to connect with users immediately through targeted advertising. The effectiveness of PPC tends to increase over time as Google establish the relevance of your website to their searchers and you begin to hone in on the keywords that offer the best value for money, but you can still get very positive results from day 1.

There are so many factors that affect SEO performance that the anticipated time-frame in which you can expect to see impressive results will vary from client to client. It will depend upon the competitiveness of the industry, the current performance of the site and the amount of resources that you have at your disposal. Needless to say, spending more time working on the site, content generation and delivering the strategy will come at a higher cost but deliver better, faster results.

How Quickly Can I Expect to see Substantial SEO Results?

One of the ways in which we tried to answer our client’s question was to turn the question around and apply it to his business. “How quickly can I expect to see SEO results?” is a question of similar magnitude to “How long does it take to develop a successful business?

The answer, of course, is far from straightforward. Developing a successful business takes time; in most cases, years. You can achieve a huge amount in 12 months, but you’d always expect to do more in the next 12 months. It takes a huge amount of effort, learning, discussion, new ideas and a determination to continue pursuing the end goal even when things get tough. You can develop a successful ‘new business’ in a shorter period of time, but it won’t compare to a successful ‘established business’.

The same is true when we think about SEO. It takes time to implement a successful SEO strategy. We can deliver impressive results in just a few months, but at the same time we’re looking to build momentum that will result in sustained growth over the coming years.

Image: “Business Class” on Flickr (Creative Commons)

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