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October 10, 2022

Why Does SEO Take So Long?

Are we there yet?

That familiar cry from impatient youngsters on a car journey could easily come from a business owner on an SEO journey.  Both need patience and time to get to the destination but the end result will be worth the wait!

SEO is a slow burn and, in many instances, it can take years for a business to see their efforts bear fruit in terms of a top ranking in the search engines for their targeted keywords.

Generally, there are many aspects to a business website that need setting up or fixing before the SEO tools can start working their magic.  It’s a bit like transforming an unfit, overweight and inherently lazy body into a healthy, fit, high-functioning and energetic one.  The overhaul will take time and effort and must be carefully managed, but the rewards will be significant.

Here’s what I’ve learned about why ‘slow and steady SEO’ wins the race.  Every. Single. Time.

The marketplace is crowded and competition is tough

If your SEO efforts are taking ages to deliver results, it may be because you’re operating in a crowded, competitive marketplace.  If you’re in a very niche industry, it will be easier to achieve top ranking spots sooner.

Given that there are about 50 billion webpages indexed on Google and only 10 spots up for grabs on page one, it’s easy to see why SEO takes so long!

But successful SEO isn’t only about time.  It’s about putting in place carefully considered tactics and tools that are tailored to your specific goals and budget.  It’s about constantly tweaking and enhancing your efforts to challenge your competitors and keep up with Google’s ever-changing algorithm.  And it’s about being diligent about the process and constantly adding value to your users and meeting their expectations.

SEO is like building a house

For sustainable SEO success, you need to start with a strong foundation and establish your framework from there.  Many different elements are required to create a structure which will withstand the test of time and they all require ongoing maintenance to ensure optimum performance – like building a house.

A hastily erected construction may give shelter for the short-term, but it won’t do the job over the long-term.  It’s like a business trying to optimise its website with a one-off project.  Yes, there here may be some gains, they definitely won’t be sustainable.

For more about lasting SEO,  you may be interested in this article on building a sustainable SEO strategy.

As with a house, can add or update elements of SEO once you have a strong structure in place.

Earning Google’s respect takes time

Your website has to earn Google’s trust and respect and this takes time.

Any new business – whether a bricks-and-mortar operation or an online venture – must first establish a reputation and build brand awareness in order to gain the public’s trust.  This will come through reviews, testimonials, referrals, word-of-mouth recommendations – and of course, time.

In the case of online businesses, if you don’t have an established digital footprint, it’s difficult for Google to trust you.  That’s why the age of the domain is a ranking factor in SEO.  The longer you’ve been in business, the greater the chance of a higher ranking.

The more reasons you give Google that your website is authoritative and trustworthy, the greater the likelihood of a higher ranking.

Google rewards websites that display E-A-T qualities.  This is an acronym for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness and is a key factor that the search engine giant uses to evaluate the overall quality of a web page.

Things you need to do include:

  • Ongoing content creation
  • Building quality backlinks
  • Optimising your web pages

My post covering all you need to know about domain authority gives good background to this important element of successful SEO.

Accumulating quality links takes time.  The minute Google senses that links are being accumulated at an unnaturally fast pace or if you have loads of backlinks from dodgy websites, it’s likely to penalise you at worst, or just ignore poor quality links at best.  On the other hand, Google will reward you if your links come from trusted, relevant websites and are built up slowly over time.

Why variables play a part in the timing of SEO success

SEO isn’t linear.  There’s no straight line from start to finish – and in actual fact, there’s no defined ‘finish’.  Even when you achieve the number one slot on Google, you can’t rest on your laurels.  There’s always work to be done to maintain a level of success and to keep meeting your goals.

You may start seeing results within the first six months of starting your SEO campaign, but it can take a lot longer to see fruits of your labours for competitive keywords.

A key reason for this is that the SEO landscape is so dynamic and there are plenty of things influencing your rankings that you have no control over.  These variables have a significant effect on your SEO efforts.

You can’t control your off-page SEO.  You can’t control what your competitors are doing.  You can’t control public reviews and opinion.  You have no idea what Google plans to do with its algorithm.  But you can control your on-page SEO elements such as your website structure, meta data, image optimisation, keyword research, link-building, the speed with which you implement changes, the quality of your content and so on.

Research and evaluation take time

You might be really excited about publishing a new piece of content which you know your target market will love.  But a lot of work has to go on behind the scenes to make sure that your content will hit the mark – and those processes can take time.

Research, evaluation and analysis are key aspects of successful SEO because they provide factual context.  A data-driven framework is essential so that any SEO tactic you use is relevant and targeted.

Budget matters

Smart SEO gets you to the top, not a big budget.

Success won’t be free, but there are clever ways to make your money work when it comes to developing an SEO strategy, building momentum and keeping your website ranking strongly.

If you’re just starting out with SEO, download my Free SEO Starter Kit to point you in the right direction.

There’s no quick route to the top, but there are plenty of things you can put in place which will start working for you immediately.  And if you’re keen on finding out how to fire up your online visibility, have a look at The SEO School.  This is a great option for anyone wanting to take charge of their own SEO because you implement your strategy as you progress through the modules of self-directed, online course.  Discover more about the DIY SEO Course here or you’re welcome to get in touch with me, Karen Dauncey, and I’ll talk you through all aspects of my SEO course.

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