Today, I want to go over why it takes so long for SEO to work.
And by ‘work’, I mean, reaching a point where one’s organic traffic to their website has increased because of optimisation.
Why does it take so long for SEO to generate an increase in traffic?
I’m going to offer you 3 main reasons, all of which have a central theme of time.
Why is ‘time’ a central theme? Well, because, simply put, SEO is a long term investment.
If you have a website, and only want it operational for a few months, SEO, quite frankly, is probably not the best channel for you.
SEO success requires years. I’m talking 3, 5, 10, 20 – the longer you have a website operational for, the better SEO can, and will, work for you.
So, let’s start with the first reason why SEO takes so long to work.
Reason 1: SEO Buy-In Takes A While
SEO requires buy-in from individuals in your organisation.
Not quite every individual. Just those that have something to do with the website.
This includes everyone in Sales, everyone in Customer Service, and possibly most importantly, everyone in Marketing.
Why is this? Why do so many people need to be aware of SEO?
For SEO to be successful, individuals in your organisation need to support it.
It’s not enough to simply have the business buy into SEO, shown by the investment in it.
The operations of SEO also requires buy-in.
Now, why is this…?
As I’ve mentioned in a previous podcast, a lot of the work SEO carries out, especially when SEO is new in your organisation, is fixing issues that others cause.
This isn’t a dig at other departments. I say this simply to say that SEO issues are caused because individuals outside of the SEO department are unaware of how their actions impact the performance of the SEO channel.
Now, you may say, well, isn’t it the job for SEOs to fix SEO shit?
It absolutely is the job for SEOs to fix SEO shit!
However, optimisation goes far beyond trying to rank on Google by ‘gaming’ their algorithms.
This is Web 1.0 thinking!
In 2020 and beyond, you want to be actioning world class SEO. And world class SEO has a preventative approach, as opposed to an approach where SEOs are constantly firefighting.
Having world class SEO means optimisation is well known across your organisation.
Just as organisations require digital transformations, your business requires an SEO-first website.
As such, marketing with SEO needs to be streamlined across your organisation.
This requires having individuals buying into SEO.
Reason 2: Website Authority Takes Time To Build
The second reason why SEO takes so long to work is because your website needs to have a certain amount of authority if it’s to outperform competitors.
What is website authority?
Website authority, or domain authority, generally refers to the strength of a website. There are various ways this ‘strength’ is measured.
Moz has their own metric, called ‘Domain Authority’ that uses a scale of 1 to 100, which is calculated by considering several factors (backlinks, the amount of pages a site has, etc).
There are other tools that consider a site’s authority. Regardless of the tool, the important thing to remember is the purpose they all have.
It’s to give an indication of how ‘powerful’ (or authoritative) a site is in the eyes of the search engines.
How much authority does your site need?
This depends on a couple of things – the vertical you’re in, how aggressive your industry is, how search engines treat your industry.
A quick analysis is to have a look at the authority of 3-5 of your competitors against the authority of your site.
This will give you an idea of where you should be, authority-wise, as a base, of course.
Now, why is site authority so important?
It’s important because the more authoritative your site is, the easier it will be to rank for targeted keywords.
A site with a high authority (and this is relative) means that newly published pages can attain higher rankings, and quicker, over competitors with a lesser authority.
Again, this is an indication, and not a rule that search engines follow.
However, it is such a high indicator that many businesses have it as a priority to improve their site authority.
Let me ask you this: how do you suppose your site can build its authority when individuals in your organisation are not bought into SEO? Do you see why you need an SEO-first website…?
Reason 3: Search Competition Has Grown Stronger
The third reason why SEO takes so long to work is because the competition is a lot stronger now than it was 20+ years ago.
There was a time when one could target a set of keywords, have a site up and running, and within a few months they rank for most, if not all, the keywords.
The probability of that happening in 2020 and beyond is far less.
So the standard saying of 3-6 months before SEO results are realised is… well, let’s just say 3-6 months is unrealistic!
Because there is more competition now, you have to ask yourself, why would Google (or any other search engine) consider my site for the top position for our main keywords?
What would make a search engine remove a site from the top position and place yours there, saying to searchers that your site is the best, most appropriate, for what they seek?
Why would they do this…?
If a site has occupied the top position for years, why would they now consider yours to be in that position?
It’s not going to happen over night, is it?
It’s going to require your site to show consistency, isn’t it? This requires time, doesn’t it?
It’s going to require your site to have a base-optimisation level, wouldn’t it?
What if I told you this base is higher now than it was a decade ago?
What if I told you this base is going to be even higher in the years and decades to come?
What would you do?
How would you respond to this…?
You see, the reality of SEO is that you’re always in competition.
Just as you’re aiming to increase your rankings over sites above you, sites ranking below yours are aiming to outperform you.
If your SEO is based on tackling issues when they crop up, there is an opportunity for a competitor to outperform you by operating with a preventative mindset.
This SEO thing is a game of who knows the most, and who has SEO knowledge spread across their organisation the best.
This is why, the better you have SEO evangelised in your organisation, the more likely you are to perform well in the SERPs.
So, what is the state of SEO in your organisation? And what do you think you can do to speed up the channel’s ability to perform for you…?