You know that you want to drive more targeted organic traffic to your site and that you’d like to boost your visibility in the organic search results. You have decided to enact a Search Engine Optimization campaign, a strategic methodology used to increase your website’s organic traffic intake by improving your positioning and relevancy in the Google search results.
To do this efficiently, you’ve enlisted the help of an expert to optimize your site and increase your credibility with Google. Now what?
You’re likely wondering what this type of campaign will entail. More importantly, you may want to know how long it will take until you appear at the top of the first page of Google for the queries that your potential customers are searching for.
In this article, we’ll review how long, on average, it takes for an SEO campaign to produce results, what those “results” will look like, and what to keep in mind to ensure that you achieve success. We’ll cover what goes into an SEO campaign, why you should prepare for a long-term strategic approach, and how to set your expectations accordingly.
By understanding what you can expect to happen and what aspects of a campaign will produce positive data outcomes, you and your SEO agency will remain aligned on the necessary steps to produce a return on your investment.
When You’ll See SEO Results
Any marketing agency understands why clients want to know the answer to this simple question. The answer for an SEO campaign, however, is not as simple.
According to Google, it’s wise to prepare for up to one year when undergoing a new SEO strategy. To quote the search engine directly, “in most cases, SEOs need four months to a year to help your business first implement improvements and then see potential benefit.”
Ultimately, you need to establish your site’s authority and credibility with Google, which takes time. No SEO agency can tell you exactly how long it will take to achieve results.
That said, here’s our short answer: Our clients typically see positive movement by the end of the third month. Notable results – or increases in organic positioning, visibility, and traffic – are often achieved after 6-8 months of consistent SEO implementation.
To unpack the trajectory of these positive movements and what signs of progress will look like, we’ll need to take a deeper look into the timeline of a typical SEO campaign.
What SEO Results Will Look Like and Why
Oftentimes when a business enlists the help of an SEO expert, they’re starting from scratch. Fundamental SEO optimizations haven’t been implemented on their website, their content lacks relevancy, and they haven’t made attempts to build up their site’s authority and trustworthiness with Google.
For this reason, in the first few months of any SEO campaign, the primary focus will be to lay the groundwork by making necessary adjustments to your website. These initial optimizations will quickly inform Google that your site is easy to crawl and user-friendly and that your site content is relevant to your ideal search queries.
Because this is the first time you’ve improved your on-site SEO, these changes are powerful. It takes two to three months to implement solid, foundational SEO work, which in turn, produces a steady, positive climb in Google search during the first few months of a campaign.
There are two caveats to this, however.
First, this initial three-month progression is only achieved through successful collaboration between the client and the SEO agency. You will need to communicate frequently throughout the first few months as you mutually determine campaign goals, priorities, and target keywords.
For best results, plan to be responsive and receptive from the onset, letting your SEO partner guide you through technical SEO audits, keyword research, and necessary site optimizations. Your campaign will operate most effectively if you trust your agency’s expertise, adhere to their recommendations, and prioritize their requests.
In short, setting a proper foundation for a successful SEO campaign takes effort. Typical progress benchmarks can’t be reached if SEO recommendations aren’t implemented completely and in a timely manner. If the process of implementing initial SEO recommendations takes longer than 45 days to two months, the usual progress trajectory will be pushed out.
Second, initial progression rates are oftentimes deceiving. In most cases, after a campaign launch, the search result placement and organic traffic increases will begin to slow, if not regress slightly, after two to three months.
This regression is normal, and understanding why this happens will help keep your expectations in line with typical campaign results.
Why Initial Progress Occurs + Why It’s Misleading
After two to three months of consistent collaboration, most initial SEO optimizations will have been completed. At this point, you’re no longer making drastic changes to your website, so you’re no longer sending an abundance of new relevancy signals to Google.
The “jumps” that your website began to make in the search results will likely slow or dip back as the rate of new SEO improvements slows or ceases.
Consequently, as progress begins to stall, the next “phase” of your SEO campaign will begin, which will include building links to your target URLs from other authoritative websites in your industry.
These links will continue to improve your authority and trustworthiness in Google’s eyes, as long as they’re built naturally over time. If Google detects that your site is building authority too quickly, your SEO will likely take a hit.
Initial backlink building might not increase your website’s rankings as quickly as foundational optimizations, but obtaining new, powerful links at a consistent rate will cause your web pages to rise in the search engine results pages, once again – and this time, at a steady trajectory with increases that will last.
As your web pages begin to appear higher in Google search consistently, both your search engine visibility and your organic traffic rates for your target audience will also improve.
How To Avoid “The Gap of Disappointment”
When you embark on your first SEO campaign, it’s exciting to see initial increases in your site’s keyword rankings and overall organic visibility. Heavy collaboration with your SEO expert to implement new recommendations will cause changes in search positioning that appear to be happening quickly.
It’s understandable that you would assume that this is the rate at which you’ll continue to improve. But you now know that this is incorrect.
If you don’t have a well-rounded understanding of what to expect, it’s easy to fall into a potential “Gap of Disappointment.” As your placement in the search results begins to stagnate or regress, you may already expect fast-paced, consistent progress indicators.
This can cause a disconnect between what’s happening and what you thought would happen. While SEO experts know that positive movements will start to occur again in the months to come, a client’s expectations can quickly start to plummet if not forewarned.
The best way to avoid falling into this gap is to take the time to educate yourself and your company’s stakeholders on what types of “results” or data shifts you might see from SEO work – and when you’ll see them. Focus on what the normal progress rates, improvements, and regressions will look like, as outlined in the graph above.
Though you won’t be able to put a time stamp on when you’ll rank number 1 for specific search terms, you will be able to spot positive progressions and remain hopeful and excited as you allow your SEO investment to run its course.
How To Know If Your SEO Campaign Is Effective
Once the proper SEO groundwork has been laid, your SEO specialists will start to build backlinks to your site’s newly-optimized priority URLs via guest posting. Your SEO partner’s link-building strategy will produce site rank increases for relevant keywords that can be maintained, now that your site’s content matches the search intent.
For example, increases in organic traffic should follow increased organic positioning. You can monitor how much traffic you’re acquiring from your target search terms via Google Analytics to indicate further that your campaign is performing properly.
Your Google Search Console impressions and average positioning data can also provide a big-picture view of how many people view your site in a search and where, on average, you are ranking in the Google search results. As you improve your site’s SEO overall, your positioning and impressions should increase.
If your SEO campaign produces more impressions, but your clicks are low, your page title tags, meta descriptions, and the quality of any ranking blog posts on your site may need improvement. Proper SEO campaign management should include blog content optimizations that are guided by keyword research tools. Improving your blog content or adjusting the ancillary pages’ metadata will also increase your impressions, clicks, and organic traffic rates.
Lastly, if you’re running a local SEO campaign focused on competing with local businesses in your industry, monitoring Google My Business for increases in searches – specifically your discovery searches – will also showcase progress. Your SEO Account Manager should review this important information with you consistently throughout your campaign.
The Truth About SEO and ROIs
To receive a return from your campaign, you’ll need to invest your time in addition to money. If you express patience, as well as collaborate with your SEO experts efficiently, you will increase your natural presence in Google search for the right keywords and bring in more targeted, organic website traffic, thus producing an ROI.
There are no quick fixes; the SEO process can’t be tricked, faked, or rushed.
Any “SEO agency” that tells you otherwise is either incorrect or likely utilizing unethical practices in full transparency. Grasping this from the onset will help you avoid unfounded disappointment and provide you with peace of mind throughout your SEO campaign.
What Other “SEO Agencies” Are Doing
To put it simply, most agencies in this industry:
- Rock at SEO, but provide awful client communication.
- Communicate well with their clients, but their SEO practices are mediocre or outdated.
At Break The Web, we try to bridge the gap between these two types of partnerships by providing the ideal, hybrid experience. We deliver exceptional SEO services that garner tangible results, and we inundate our clients with transparency and communication.
We believe that you should never feel in the dark throughout your SEO partnership.
Unfortunately, too many firms fail to provide their clients with updates on what they’re implementing or working on, and they don’t share tangible deliverables or backlink reports. Even if a client’s SEO is improving, they’re left with no way of knowing what caused this progress.
Poor communication is widespread amongst agencies that require long-term contracts. Clients are often duped into up-front payment and lock themselves into a 6-12 month partnership, only to find out that, in the end, the agency did nothing notable, and their SEO hasn’t improved.
We have successfully broken this mold by forgoing long-term contracts and by reporting consistently on the work we’ve completed each month. As we only require a 30-day notice for any partnership alterations, we keep our clients fully informed on our next steps and earn their business month over month.
Even if an agency’s communication and reporting are consistent, their work must be up to par and up to date. This is because SEO is an ever-changing industry that requires adaptation and continuous study.
Complacent marketers who claim to be SEO experts may be relying on past methods that are obsolete. Offerings to be skeptical of include social bookmarks, blog comment deliverables, and search engine submissions, to name a few. Many previous best practices that are still offered have actually become outdated and ineffective.
You may come across irrelevant claims and deliverables if considering SEO services from a full-service marketing firm. Companies that don’t specialize in SEO are often unaware that their own offerings are inadequate. Some full-service agencies may list SEO services as an offering, but they actually white-label or outsource this work, which can also be ineffective.
To ensure a fruitful campaign, consider partnering with a company that specializes in its service offerings. This will help you avoid collaborating with an agency that only understands pieces of SEO. If a firm only offers some SEO services, you likely won’t see success.
This is because, to achieve search engine optimization, both on-page and off-page SEO need to be prioritized. If an agency only optimizes your website but doesn’t offer backlink building, you’re only working toward half of the big picture. Don’t fall victim to thin SEO; if the work seems minimal, the progress you’ll see from this work will be just as small.
Time To Get Started
You’ve just learned what SEO progress will look like, how long it will take to achieve, and what elements can impact progress rates. You’ve even uncovered the truth about SEO and ROI, and the types of agencies to avoid. You’re now ready to embark on an SEO campaign, equipped with knowledge that will ensure its success.
Remember to trust your new partner, but don’t forget the role you’ll play in achieving your own results. SEO is only effective when both the agency and the client prioritize the collaboration. If that collaboration is with Break The Web, then we can’t wait to take the first step toward search engine domination with you.