Why Does SEO Take So Long to Yield Results?

how long until seo works

Want immediate results from your SEO efforts? Sorry, Charlie. If done right, it will take some time, and this is why.

Whether you’re operating a small business or in charge of growing a large company’s online presence, the importance of SEO remains the same. It all boils down to digital marketing success. If you want it (and who doesn’t?), you have to invest in SEO. When you couple that fact with the ever-changing landscape that is Google’s algorithm, it’s not hard to see why so many choose to hire an outside vendor to help them stay on top of their SEO game.

The tricky part is, however, that once you’ve done your due diligence and picked the SEO company that you believe will earn you the rankings that you deserve, the fruits of your SEO labor are far from immediate. As a matter of fact, it can take anywhere from four months to a year to just start seeing results.

It seems counterintuitive, right? You invest marketing dollars and hire the experts to just hurry up and wait? Why does it take so long to see higher traffic levels, or at least even a minor change in your rankings?

The fact of the matter is, unlike traditional marketing efforts, SEO takes time to start working. Here are a few reasons why.

First of all, SEO is not what it used to be

Back in the day, SEO was all about figuring out which keywords would drive the most traffic to your website, and then incorporating those keywords throughout your site. Simple, right? Sure, but it wasn’t sustainable, because traffic without conversions is not what keeps a business alive.

Today, SEO is all about being a fit for a more detailed, natural language search. Optimizing for those types of queries, as opposed to just trying to rank for individual keywords, makes it much more likely that your website is providing your users with their desired solution or answer, and therefore makes your search traffic much more likely to convert.

This, as you can imagine, takes more time and forethought than incorporating a few choice words into your site.

Research and discovery

The research and discovery phase, like in-depth website audits, industry research, and competitive analysis, lays the groundwork for any good SEO strategy. This part of the process, which can take up to three months, needs to happen before any technical SEO work can be implemented and before any content can be created.

Since most research and discovery happens behind the scenes, it can easily feel like time and money is being wasted, but in fact, it is one of the most valuable steps in designing your overall SEO approach. Be wary of vendors that jump right in and begin writing content or making changes to your site. SEO without a strategy can be an expensive and futile effort.

Creating quality content

As cliché as this is, content is king when it comes to SEO. It is the backbone of any worthwhile strategy, and it should always contribute to a larger plan. Content for the sake of content won’t win you any prizes when it comes to SEO. Unless you’re writing consistent, original, resourceful, and consumer-centric pieces, your rankings will remain stagnant, or worse, plummet.

Remember, doing what’s good for SEO goes hand-in-hand with doing what’s good for your online users. This approach, while extremely effective, takes much more time and effort than pumping out irrelevant blogs, which really won’t get you anywhere, except maybe blacklisted.

Establishing search engine eminence

Once you’ve started generating quality content, it takes time for search engines to recognize that value. Google will examine the number of people reading it, engagement levels, the quality of your links, the bounce back rate, etc. You need to prove to the search engines that you’re an authority in your field and can quickly provide answers to the questions that searchers are trying to find. Only then will you begin to see a shift in your rankings and higher traffic coming in from SEO.

Consistent monitoring and effort

Unless you continue strategizing, publishing content, monitoring the competition, and staying abreast of Google’s changing algorithm, any improvement that you initially saw in your rankings and traffic levels will quickly drop. SEO is not a “set it and forget it” type of effort, because as soon as you decide to stop, your competition will surpass you.

There is always more that you can and should do, like continued content creation, content amplification via link building and social media strategies, and website conversion rate optimization to help turn your visitors into customers.

In the end, SEO is all about the long game, and should not be viewed as a way to grow sales quickly. It takes time to research your industry and evaluate your website. It takes even more time to implement improvements and generate content, and even longer to start seeing the indented benefits of those improvements. And even then, your SEO results will continue to grow over time. So, stay patient and don’t give up too soon. Although it can be trying, your efforts will be rewarded.

9Sail can help you create and execute an SEO strategy that will drive results. Contact us for a free site audit.

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