As a website owner, what one wants to do is drive enormous amount of traffic to one’s website so as to maximise the conversion rate with a view to increasing profitability of one’s venture manifold.
To be able to achieve the desired results for the website, one needs to engage in something called ‘Search Engine Optimization (SEO)’, which refers to the process of enhancing the visibility of a website across a number of search engines, such as Google & Bing, in an organic manner.
SEO, as simple and easy as it may seem from a distance, is very intricate process in reality and could consume considerable amount of time before producing noticeable results for any website.
Owing to a number of intricacies involved in its implementation, SEO is often assigned to digital marketing experts by business clients with web presence. In return for certain amount of fees, the experts make all the efforts required to optimize the websites for search engines.
Soon after the task of SEO implementation is handed over to online marketing professionals, most of the businesses start to grapple with a nagging question, i.e. How Long Does It Take To See Results After SEO is applied to their websites?
While the above-mentioned question posed by business clients is a genuine one as every firm wants to make the most of each dollar spent, it is not often addressed or answered to the clients’ satisfaction by online marketing specialists.
This article is an attempt to shine some light on the question that has been the cause of worries to many so far.
Generally speaking, an effective SEO campaign for a new site should start working or displaying results 4 to 6 months after it is first put into practice. However, it might take longer for results to crop up if any website is constrained by small budget or has been penalised by Google or other search engines in the past for its adoption of black-hat strategies.
As a website grows older, its overall performance improves on account of continuous efforts into SEO application. This is why one would see a 12-month optimized website ranking much better and attracting much more traffic than a website that has been optimized for search engines for 6 months only.
Outlined below is the structure of SEO and how it evolves over time to give clients an understanding of why it takes 4-6 months to see SEO-driven results:
First Month – Focus On Research
The very first month is dedicated to carrying out research work, encompassing keyword research, competitive analysis, assessment of technical requirements and content audit, for the assigned website by an SEO professional.
Please note that the amount of time needed to conduct research work would vary and mostly depend on size of the website as well as scope of the SEO project. Hence, small-sized websites may be researched in less than a month, whereas other websites containing large number of pages might take more than a month to be thoroughly researched.
Investigation into the scope of damage resulting from previous implementation of black-hat SEO strategies is also to be conducted in the first month itself as this would help offset the impact of any such damage in the following months.
By the end of the first month, the the online marketing specialist should have all pieces of research work documented for future reference.
Second Month – Focus On Technical Aspects Of Website
The digital marketing professional enters the second month with access to meaningful SEO insights (derived from the analysis of research data gathered in the first month) that enable to proceed further with a clear sense of direction and purpose.
The second month is basically devoted to fixing the technical loopholes of the website so that it could be easily crawled, indexed and ranked by search engines. The volume of technical issues to be dealt with in this stage is determined by the result of ‘site audit’ conducted in the very first month.
In line with the technical concerns pointed out by the ‘site audit’, the website may need to be either completely modified or tweaked slightly so as to allow the web spiders to crawl through it easily.
In particular, the following technical aspects are looked into and any issues related to the same are dealt with by the online marketing specialist:
Meta Tags are the key components of HTML web pages that must be optimized for gaining visibility on search engines.
Of all the meta tags, there are four in particular that need be paid utmost attention to – Title, Description, Keyword and Refresh.
The online marketing professional ensures that main keyword for every page of the website is included into the title, description and keyword meta tags so that each page gets better ranking for its specific relevant keyword across all search engines.
URLs (Universal Resource Locators)-
The SEO professional is also to check if URLs contain specific keywords for the pages that one gets directed to. A URL with a keyword helps optimize a web page for search engines and hence, is given due consideration.
A sitemap is the structure of a website with links to all of its pages that are available for being crawled and indexed.
Both HTML sitemap and XML sitemap are to be created (if not already generated), showcasing clear and logical structure of the site in question. While there is not much to be done in relation to HTML sitemap after it has been created, one needs to submit XML sitemap to the search engines via webmaster tools to allow for smooth crawling and indexing of website pages.
Many site performance factors, including page load time, size of images and site responsiveness to wide variety of devices, are worked on by the online expert with a view to enhancing the visibility of overall website on search engines.
Internal Links –
Linking one page of a website to another page of the same site makes it SEO-friendly. So, the digital marketing specialist has the responsibility to incorporate internal links into various pages of the site so as to make it easily crawlable.
Crawl Errors –
Webmaster tools may point out certain errors, including DNS errors, server errors, robots failure and URL errors, which make it difficult for search engines to crawl the given website. These errors have to be appropriately resolved by the SEO specialist so that web spiders could easily crawl the website.
The SEO consultant is also to look at whether pages of the given site have duplicate content or not. If some or all of the pages are found to contain duplicate content, these are re-drafted in this stage itself.
Third Month – Focus On Content Creation
In the third month, the task for the digital marketing professional is to create meaningful content around specific keywords and target audience in various formats with a view to enhancing the site’s ranking for the chosen keywords across various search engines over time.
While content creation may seem an expensive affair, business clients must invest into it to be able to reap benefits, including increased brand loyalty, recognition as a thought leader, high number of leads and growing sales, quality back-links to the site and enhanced visibility on search engines, in the long-term.
The types of content, which are known to fetch benefits, include blogging, whitepapers, case-studies, infographics, videos, product catalogues and e-books. Take a look at this useful infographic on content creation for more tips and information.
Please note that content creation has to be an ongoing activity for any site and must be continuously worked on by the SEO professional in the following months too.
Fourth Month – Focus On Links
As stated earlier, the fourth month would also see relevant content creation with a view to drawing quality back-links to the site.
Additionally, issues related to toxic links and manual penalties are supposed to be dealt with by the digital marketing consultant in this month.
In order to further gain natural back-links to the site, the online marketing professional engages in offering guest posts to other authoritative and relevant websites.
While gaining ‘follow’ links is vital to rank higher, bringing in ‘no-follow’ links is equally important to allow the site to appear normal and natural to the web spiders. So, both types of links should be aimed at by the specialist in this stage of SEO implementation.
Fifth Month – Focus On Being Social
As the digital marketing expert moves into the fifth month, he/she engages in setting up social media accounts across the relevant platforms with a view to increasing brand awareness, distributing the produced content, and enhancing the overall profitability resulting from the increased traffic.
Importance of social media has increased manifold lately, and owing to the same reason, search engines have started taking into account social media activities of online brands while deciding on their rankings.
In spite of social media being an expensive matter, a client must stick at nothing to invest into building a strong social media presence in order to gain better visibility on search engines.
Inclusion of social media into overall SEO strategy is what the digital marketer does in this particular stage.
Sixth Month – Focus On Analytics-Driven Optimisation
By the 6th month, the client should be able to see some traffic and results on the site on account of efforts put in by the hired digital marketer in the previous months.
In addition to being engaged in content creation and distribution of produced content via social media platforms, the online marketing specialist, at this stage, gets on with digging into analytics to tweak the ongoing campaigns for achieving better SEO results in the following months.
The online marketing expert logs in to analytics tool to check on a number of performance metrics, including but not limited to ‘total number of page views’, ‘average time spent on the website by a visitor’, ‘bounce rate’, ‘demographics of visitors by language, country and city’, ‘behaviour flow’, and ‘conversion rate’.
After all the performance metrics are thoroughly analysed, useful insights come into existence. These insights are then fed into content creation strategy, link building strategy and social media strategy with the aim of improving the site’s visibility across search engines further.
The essence of the article is that there is no short-cut to success in any walk of life. If a site tries to gain good ranking fast using black-hat SEO strategies, it will have to eventually suffer from penalties because algorithms deployed by search engines are now smart enough to catch and punish those who engage in spammy activities. So, SEO campaigns need be nurtured over sufficient amount of time to produce quality traffic and other desired results for any given website.