6/24: #ThreeMinutesADay: Is Your SEO working? How Do You Know?
Three minutes a day to take bad business decisions away.
Today's tip: Did you start working on your SEO efforts? Be patient, follow the process and execute against it. It usually takes one year for the results to pay off. In the meantime, there are 3 indicators your SEO is working.
In a hurry? Just watch the video below.
SEO buyer’s remorse. It’s a thing.
Especially for companies and executives who have not previously invested in Search Engine Optimization.
There was a time when SEO results could be seen in as little as three months. The Gold Rush of SEO fortunes lasted up until two years ago. As Google launched ever more updates, increasing their requirements for what their algorithms consider authority content, many executives began doubting the value of SEO. That’s because we live in an era of instant gratification, both socially and professionally.
For example - Paid ads are a great example of instant gratification. You set up a campaign, and sales/ leads start coming in almost instantaneously. But PPC is expensive and in no way, shape or form is it comparable to SEO. If you’re interested in understanding the main differences between PPC and SEO, check out my previous article on the topic here.
Search Engine Optimization is the single most sustainable way to increase your company’s visibility, access to new customers and grow your business. It is where the rubber meets the road. It takes time and money and the biggest effort is usually upfront.
When you begin seeing the results of what SEO does for your company, you become a true believer. Unfortunately, it usually takes about one year from when you start making good use of this tool until you see the desired results you seek.
This creates two problems I want to briefly present:
When you first begin investing in SEO, you might well experience buyer’s remorse. After two or three months of spending $10-$50,000 a month on SEO, if you don’t see a significant lift in organic traffic, you may think your team or your marketing vendor is failing you.
There are many reasons for this feeling. You can read this article I wrote to check for signs that your SEO is truly failing. It is more likely, however, that the reason you’re not seeing tremendous organic search growth in the first six months is simply because Google doesn’t yet trust your website as an authority on a topic.
Here’s the punch in the gut: there’s nothing you can do about it. You cannot blame your team or marketing vendor for a lack of results in the early stages of an SEO campaign. From an SEO perspective, you can do EVERYTHING right and still have no results.
It’s simple. Ranking in Google search results doesn't matter - unless you’re on the first page. 98% of people searching on Google do not go past the first page of search results. To make things worse, 75% of online users only click on the first top 3 search results.
So you have an uphill battle to really make SEO work for you. First, you have to convince Google to make your pages rank AT ALL. Second, you need to rank in the first 100 search results for one specific Google query. Then, you need to get from position 100 to position 10 before you see any traffic. And finally, you need to get to the top 3 search results to see real growth.
For the last decade, I’ve realized that any person looking for SEO traffic has the completely wrong mindset - even when they have access to awesome tracking software like Moz or Ahrefs (we use both) showing them progress with their Search engine results pages. They look at their position and say something like “I was on page 1 but now I’m on page 2. What did we do wrong?”
When you ask that question, you have the wrong mindset. Your position in Google search results is not determined by your performance alone. It’s determined by all the SEO activities you’re engaging in versus all your competitors’ activity. Of course you can rise and fall in Google search results. You could get all the way to the top and then drop in rankings. Why? Because you are not the only one competing for that top search result position. If you drop the ball and others are aiming for the same position, of course you’re going to lose rankings.
Let’s return to when you first started your SEO campaign. Certain deliverables are standard across all companies. Your team or your marketing vendor will go through the motions and execute against those monthly deliverables - and that’s great.
However, as said above, this won’t generate leads/ visits for quite a while. In general, if you’re in an industry that is not super competitive (example manufacturing), then you should see an uptick in traffic in about 6-7 months. If you’re in a competitive industry, then don’t get your hopes up until the one year mark. Only then, if the results aren’t what you expected, should you reassess what you’re doing and make sure you’re leveraging the right tactics.
This doesn't mean that you sign an SEO contract or assign a few team members to an SEO campaign and then forget about it. Not by any means.
There are specific metrics you should track from day 1 of your SEO project.
Here’s a simple checklist of what you should continuously monitor during the first 12 months of your SEO engagement:
Are you continuing to create new content and backlinks?
Are you monitoring your link profile and content performance?
Are you optimizing your conversion elements on the website?
Are you ranking for the right keywords?
Any agency you work with will likely present you with a comprehensive monthly report on your SEO campaign performance . Although you shouldn’t expect a huge uptick in organic traffic during the first month, you should certainly expect the following intermediate milestones to be met:
Your content is being indexed by Google
You see a positive increase in keywords for which your website ranks
You see some keywords improve in rankings each month (sometimes, these may be random keywords because Google is still “learning” what your website is all about)
You see organic visitors in both Google Console and Google Analytics - especially after the sixth month of doing SEO.
As a company executive who knows the power of SEO first-hand (this website generates close to 50,000 organic visitors each month!) I will tell you this.
Be patient with your SEO efforts.
Invest as much of your marketing budget in SEO as you can or have tolerance for (for reference, we spend 60% of our monthly marketing budget on SEO.)
And then, eventually, you will wake up one day to see a huge increase in organic traffic.
It won’t happen overnight. But it will work out. When it does, you will be so glad that you trusted your gut and invested in SEO.
Until then - follow the process and hire an SEO team that really knows what it's doing.
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