SEO – How Long Does It Take?

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We’ve been helping business owners with their SEO since 2009. During that time, one of the most common questions we hear is “How long will SEO take to get me to the #1 spot on Google?”.

That is a valid question, but unfortunately, that’s like asking what the winning numbers are to next week’s Powerball! However,  this is not because SEO is some mysterious guessing game. The reason nobody can truthfully answer how long long it will take for someone to get to the #1 spot is based on several variables.

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Google Is Always Changing

As Google, and other search engines, and AI capabilities continually evolve, catering to the user and online publisher needs, only Google Engineers working behind-the-scenes know what’s really happening. It is like McDonald’s Big Mac sauce or Coca-Cola’s secret recipe–the true answers are heavily guarded.

Because of this, nobody can really “crack the code,” so to speak. With all of that being said (or typed), we gather intel on what is working and what isn’t working.

As I’m typing this, I realize this may sound convoluted, but please understand that I’m simply saying that there isn’t an exact formula to rank #1 for Google. As an example, you can’t just do a+b+c = #1 ranking. There are, however, several proven methods that continue to result in high rankings!

To provide anyone searching on Google with the most useful information, Google considers more than 250 factors, including the words of your search, relevance, usability of pages, the expertise of sources, and your location and settings (and that’s just a few).

With so many factors to consider, it’s highly unlikely to predict what will make one website to be better than another very similar site.

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Patience Is Golden

As a business owner, I have learned the hard way that some people try to “get one over on you” and charge more than they should. In the world of internet marketing, you’ve probably been told “It’s a sprint, not a marathon!”

Let me just say, in the world of SEO, that is the case. Patience is required during the marathon. This is not because companies are just trying to get more money out of you (well, not us anyway), but because it truly takes time to rank for the keywords you want.

Most business owners, when investing in SEO, want to see results right away. With GrubHub delivering fast food and Amazon delivering things the same day, we’re in a world that doesn’t really like being patient. So it can be tough to buckle down, especially at the beginning. This is why it is critical to be on the same page and to set proper expectations upfront.

During this process, there should be a lot of communication. As a business owner, you should know what is going on with your SEO campaign at least once per month, and sometimes much more!

If you want your cake and want to eat it too, you may want to consider pairing an SEO strategy with a PPC campaign. That is playing the long-term play of SEO with the immediate gratification play of Pay Per Click!

Think of SEO like the 401K of internet marketing. It takes time, consistency, and you play for the long-term results. With compounding several factors over 4-6 months, you’re likely to see, the results you’re after!

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Other Factors

When thinking of timeframes for SEO and how long it will take to get the #1 ranking, we should first start looking at what you want to rank for. There are some industries, keywords, and geographic locations that are just more competitive than others. If you look at “food in New York City” compared to “stained glass installation in Toledo” you can quickly see which one would be more competitive and therefore, take longer to rank for. In addition to you trying to rank, other companies are also trying to get that top spot.

As you begin to start ranking and getting traffic to your website, other factors will start to take affect as well. Things such as CTR (Click thru rate) and how well your website converts the traffic to an action (lead, phone call, etc). As the analytics start coming in, several new tweaks can take place to help improve those numbers, which strengthen your case to Google that you should rank higher and higher. Again, you can’t make all of these adjustments until you start getting traffic.

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Is SEO a smart investment?

We’re probably biased, but this answer will surprise you. SEO is not for every company.

What?!?

That’s right, it’s not. If you’re wanting to try SEO out for a month and see what happens, it’s just not going to right for you most of the time. It is truly an investment into your company now and into the future. If you’re unsure about the future of your company, it may be better to look at just PPC campaigns to generate new business.  Additionally, if you prefer scratch off lottery tickets to 401Ks for your retirement plan, you likely wouldn’t be the type of person that wants to invest in SEO.

On the flip side, if you want long-term, sustainable, consistent, and predictable traffic coming to your website and converting into sales, SEO is the best internet marketing investment you can make!

If you’d like to have an absolutely risk-free, pressure-free conversation about how we can help your company with SEO, please contact us today!

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