After investing thousands in a new website, you excitedly open Google Analytics only to see a trickle of visitors. You’re crestfallen. Your web developer promised a new website that’s SEO friendly and will instantly drive tons of traffic. Instead, you wonder why SEO takes time to work?
SEO, unlike paid advertising, is a complex process that takes months to see results. There are three pillars of SEO that impact how quickly a website will appear in the search results. These are:
Sounds simple right? It is, but how well you do is down to your execution.
You can’t simply throw a page together and pray that it ranks in a few days. Instead, you must understand how competitive your market and keywords are, and if you have something meaningful to write about that’s worth reaching the top search results.
Let’s explore why SEO takes time to work. We’ll start with looking at Paid vs Organic traffic. Most small businesses have a good understanding of how paid advertising works for their enterprise.
Paid vs Organic traffic (SEO vs PPC)
As most small businesses try paid advertising at some point, it’s worth starting by discussing paid search vs organic search traffic. You might think this is a false equivalency, but it’s not, as you’ll soon see.
If you run advertising, you expect to get instant results. It doesn’t matter if your advert appears in the local paper, Facebook, or on Google, you want to see sales now.
To me, paid advertising is a tap. If you want more traffic, you need to pay more. The opposite is also true. The results are instantaneous.
SEO, on the other hand, is like word of mouth. You have to put a lot of work in before people start talking about your business. But once you’ve laid the groundwork, you’ll see a flow of new customers.
PPC vs SEO
Both involve time and money costs. Your results will vary based on what you’re happy to invest in the medium to long term and how the market changes.
You can’t set either and forget. They both require active work to continue to produce results.
How competition affects your SEO
With SEO, you can’t ignore the competition and forge your own path. You’ll need to analyze what already appears in the search results as that’s what the search engines feel are the best solution to the user’s question or query.
You might find that a particular topic is overdone and talked to death, while other subjects get little love. That’s great. You’ve potentially found a niche you can exploit and become an authority in.
If you’re competing against a few major players, who dominate the search result, it will be harder for you to make an impact.
Doing SEO for estate agents is hard for various reasons, including thin content, low barriers to entry, and massive property portals. Unless you have something incredibly unique to offer, Rightmove (UK) and Zillow (USA); will always dominate generic search terms.
You’d need large pockets and plenty of time to start ranking for generic search terms like “home for sale in Sandbanks” or “home for sale in Alpine NJ”.
Selling homes looks like child’s play when compared to marketing mortgages. The competition is beyond fierce. You simply won’t be able to rank for “best mortgage rate 2022” or “how do mortgages work?”.
Competing in these market
It’s possible to make some headway with the right SEO strategy. However, you’ll need to create a lot of supporting content that ties into a larger topic for you to have a chance of ranking for generic terms.
For example, if you’re trying to sell properties in New York, you’ll want to create content on each ‘village’ that pulls together what to do there, where’s best to live, what schools are best, and who is the ideal real estate agent. You simply can’t rely on only having category pages.
By taking this approach, you build a strong pyramid underneath the keyword you’re trying to rank for and increase your likelihood of being seen in the search results for the generic term.
Less competitive markets
It’s likely your market is less competitive, but Google and the other search engines will want to understand your website before they start ranking it. So, you’ll need to have an SEO strategy that is better than your competition and one that’s executed to perfection.
All you need is great content?
Without ranting, no, you need more than great content. I find it endlessly frustrating that no one can define “great content”. As a highly subjective term, it’s meaningless!
Some use fancy SEO tools when writing content that tells them to use certain words or synonyms of their keyword. However, this misses the point, especially if they can’t write in an engaging and persuasively way to start with.
Most web pages use the same formatting, such as short paragraphs, descriptive subheadings, and plenty of images. The reason behind these ideas is basic psychology. However, they don’t make your content great, only easier to read.
So while you should use these formatting ideas when writing for the website, it’s important to write in magazine form to keep the reader engaged.
By magazine form, I mean the solution to their question is in the introduction. From there, the article expands to explore the topic and supporting information giving the reader an even better understanding. The piece ends with a conclusion that ties all of the themes together.
Another way to describe it is: We first tell the reader what they will learn. Next, we teach them. Finally, we talk about what they’ve learned.
Of course, I’ve yet to mention keywords, keyword density, or even links. All of these are an important part of creating content. But it’s much more than keywords on a page with a few formatting tricks.
Are inbound links the savior?
I remember the good old days when all you needed was tons links. With plenty of links, a website would magically hit the top spot for any keyword. Google got smart and rolled out an update called Panda.
The Panda update reassessed links to look at quality, not quantity. Good news for small business owners who don’t have endless time or the budget to build countless backlinks.
While you need some backlinks for your website to start ranking, it’s as many as you might think. Ten high-quality backlinks from a trusted local website will have a far bigger impact than a hundred spammy links from irrelevant websites.
Getting search engines to find links to your website takes time. As they need to crawl many websites to pick up new links. After finding new links, each page is analyzed to ensure it’s high quality and deserves to rank.
If the search engines value the link and your page, you’ll start to rank. But as you can see, it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s the same when you publish new pages or update old ones.
But someone has promised I can see results in 6 to 8 weeks
In most cases, it will take a few months for you to see results. If you’re starting from scratch, it could take six to 12 months before your website starts generating revenue.
It’s best to avoid SEO companies who promise you results in a few weeks unless they can demonstrate that you’re making a critical error that’s easy to fix but will result in a rankings boost.
Most SEO companies promising fast rankings will do something shady to temporarily boost your visibility in the search engines. The moment the search engines pick up on this shady behavior, they’ll slap your website with a penalty that will be costly to fix.
So stay away from people promising fast results. Instead, understand that SEO takes time to work and is an investment. For some businesses, the investment isn’t worth it. The competition is just too fierce. So, you’ll need to find another way to drive traffic to your website.
Why SEO takes times
If you’re wondering why SEO takes time, it’s because search engines only want to rank quality websites. And as with anything in life, developing a quality product takes time. There isn’t a shortcut.
Building trust with the search engines involves producing unique, insightful content that’s formatted to allow easy reading. It should be easy to find pages on your website as search engines use links to crawl. So remember to add internal links (and external links) where possible and often.
Finally, get quality websites within your niche to link to you. Ask for a link daily and aim to create one each week. Don’t forget to track who links to your website. Focus on quality, not quantity.
As Google and other search engines trust your website, you’ll see your keyword rankings improve and acquire more visitors that will convert. That’s why SEO takes time!
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