A Guide to SEO For the Impatient

Marketing ‘scams’ have been around for years. The best ones are those that become accepted as the norm — bottled water anyone? The last 20 years, however, has given rise to a new type of online scam and no acronym in the online business world conjures up images of snake oil salesmen quite like SEO.

You’re not alone in being contacted by services claiming they will get your business website to the top of Google within a month. We get them almost daily. It’s frustrating, especially for those of us that are passionate about providing a high-quality SEO service. Despite Google providing us with a Search Engine Optimisation guide, no agency can or should make any promises when it comes to ranking improvements and we strongly advise caution when dealing with any such company. No matter who the agency is, good SEO takes time and there are no shortcuts.

While a slick salesman will make SEO seem simple, the reality is that SEO is a complex machine with over 200 ranking factors. To make the game a little more interesting these ranking factors are constantly being updated by Google to ensure their service delivers the very best search results.

These technical challenges are compounded by not having complete insight into what your competition is doing with their own SEO strategy. How are they building backlinks, optimising site speed, creating content? How much time, and subsequently money, are they investing in SEO?

“Google will rank your business above your competitors when it trusts your website. Trust takes time, especially when everyone wants to be trusted”

All this means that Google ranking is an ever-moving target that you can never comfortably take your eye off.

Realistic SEO takes patience and an understanding of how the process works. Google will rank your business above your competitors when it trusts your website is providing better information. As we know from any relationship, trust takes time — especially when everyone wants to be trusted.

Sigh. How long will my SEO take?

An extensive research study completed by Ahrefs, reveals the average top ten page is more than two years old. Pages that rank at the number one position are on average nearly three years old. That’s a long time for businesses that need more customers now. At the risk of being doomsayers, most new businesses are pleased to make it through their first year. Anything else is a bonus.

Evaluating your competition

A successful SEO campaign is influenced by many factors, not least the business’s competitive landscape. If you have found a niche with existing consumer demand, but few real competitors, a good SEO strategy could yield big results within 6 months. No promises though!

Alternatively, if you’re entering into an established market that has SEO savvy competitors, you should suit up for a big battle. Imagine trying to dominate Google rankings for keywords like ‘mobile phones’, ‘accountants Perth’ or ‘insurance agent Melbourne’. Your SEO team will be joined by endless other SEO teams all vying for attention and attempting to outdo one another.

Realistic expectations

Most businesses fall somewhere in the middle of these extremes. You might start seeing results in a few months, but, realistically a steady stream of customers might not come until after a year. Good SEO specialists will achieve consistent improvement in your Google rankings, so you should know early on if their strategies are reliable. You will need to wait longer though, to see an actual return on your investment.

A good example of this is our own website. Start Digital are relatively young players in a space that is very well established. A quick search for the most used keyword term ‘web design Perth’ shows millions of results. Trying to get noticed and establish a presence for this and other similar terms has taken over 2 years — and, whilst we’re still a long way from achieving our goals, we’ve experienced the benefits of a good SEO strategy first hand.

Combining short and long-term marketing strategies

SEO works alongside other marketing strategies, so you don’t have to wait forever. Professional networking, social media marketing, pay-per-click campaigns, and Google Ads, are ready to make you cash now. However, if you go down the paid advertising path make sure you have a clear strategy and budget in mind. We recommend engaging a digital marketing specialist to oversee any paid campaign. Check out our article that compares organic SEO and Google Ads.

So….if you can pay to get noticed what is the big deal with SEO and organic ranking? Organic ranking is based on merit, which means, in the eyes of Google you deserve to be there. What’s more, studies indicate that over 80% of all searches result in a Google page 1 organic click. Smart Insights indicate this figure to be as high as 94%. Depending on your sources (there are many) paid Google Ads equate to between 5% and 20% of all search clicks. Whichever way you look at it, organic/natural ranking generates far better results than paid.

That said, a business marketing strategy should address its short and long-term needs. SEO is a long-term investment, and it should be appreciated as one. If you need to score some quick points don’t shy away from putting your hand in your pockets.

Seriously… how can I fast track SEO?

Unfortunately for new businesses, there are no shortcuts with SEO but there are ways to give your SEO a boost. It’s important that Google sees your web presence growing and expanding naturally. Building 10,000 backlinks in one day is not natural, but a steady stream of quality content and link juice is.

The quickest way to see SEO results is to start today and do it right the first time. Many businesses jump into designing a website, without considering how potential customers will find it. Others will outsource their web design and SEO overseas, which, needless to say, is fraught with danger. Search engine optimisation starts with a good understanding of your local competitive space and how the subsequent website is designed. Reverse engineering a website to make it search engine friendly is costly and consumes time.

Talk to an honest, jagon-free digital agency

Start Digital provides holistic digital services that cover both web design and search engine optimisation. Promoting your website online doesn’t have to be scary or overwhelming. At Start Digital, we’re here to help you better understand how the web works and how to use the internet to reach out and connect with a new audience.

This article originally appears on the Start Digital website.

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by + 372,390 people.

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