Why does SEO take so long?

Why does SEO take so long


Understanding what SEO is and how it works isn’t overly complicated. Most business owners see the value and necessity in optimizing their website and digital presence for search engines like Google. But many fail to manage their expectation of just how long SEO can take to deliver results. Many SEO agencies recommend contracts of 6 months to a year for their services, and at first glance that can come as a shock. Surely it’s a ploy to lock in your dollars and allow them to provide sub-par services? Why does SEO take so long to require that kind of commitment?

If that’s your current mindset, it’s worth examining what good SEO actually looks like and what goes into making it work. Here are the top reasons SEO takes time to be effective:

Many SEO agencies recommend contracts of 6 months to a year for their services, and at first glance that can come as a shock.

1  |  Laying the foundation takes time and can’t be rushed.

Search Engine Optimization isn’t just a matter of writing good copy and letting search engines do the work. It takes human time investment across multiple initiatives in order to optimize fully:

Audience and keyword research

A huge part of SEO is optimizing your content for keywords that are relevant not only to your business, but to customers who are searching for your services. It won’t serve you to go just for common-sense terms (like “carpet cleaning” for a cleaning company). Most keywords like that are too broad to rank for effectively and will be a time dump for you and your SEO team. Allotting time for quality research into your industry and ideal customers will ensure you get the best return on your SEO investment.

Backlink acquisition

Search engines find data and categorize content primarily by following links. One important aspect of SEO is to get other established sites to link to your content, creating backlinks. If Google’s crawlers follow a link from Forbes to your business consulting agency, they will give you more credibility and rank you higher because that link came from a credible source. So-called Black Hat SEO companies approach backlinks as quantity over quality, buying multiple links from low-credibility sights to create the impression of popularity and relevance. This is the quickest way to tank your Google rankings and unravel all the good SEO work you’re doing elsewhere! To do backlinks right, you have to put the time in to build relationships with legitimate high authority sites and get them to link to you naturally.

Content Creation

You can write static web pages and acquire backlinks all day. But search engines also want current information. If your site isn’t updating regularly, they will prioritize other, newer content over yours. That’s why your SEO isn’t complete without regular content updates. The best way to do this is to incorporate a site blog so you can provide a constant flow of information and keep search engines coming back to your content (find out why having a blog on your site helps SEO). Writing, scheduling, and sharing this content takes time. In addition, search engines have to crawl, index, and rank it just like other pages on your site. While you likely won’t rank organically for a blog post alone, it does create keyword-adjacent content that Google considers when ranking your site as a whole. The more quality information you provide, the better you look to search engines.

While all of these steps are necessary to do SEO right, all of them take time up front and ongoing maintenance down the road. Want to learn more about exactly what goes into SEO? Check out our free digital marketing guide.

2  |  Search engines take time to find you and build credibility.

Search engines like Google take can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to locate, scan, and index your pages and content. In the meantime, they don’t know your content exists. So even though people are searching for related keywords, you won’t appear anywhere in search results—let alone near the top—for some time. On top of that, search engines prioritize results based on relevance. Unless you are some newfangled out-of-the-box service no one’s ever heard of before, you’ll likely have competitors who’ve established more relevance than you simply for being around longer. And if you ARE a type of business no one’s ever heard of, you’re facing a different kind of issue: if they haven’t heard of your service, how are they going to search for it? This is where ads and solid keyword research will benefit you most.

3  |  You’re constantly competing with older, more established sites.

Once Google indexes your website, it compares your content to all other similar content out there and ranks your relevance based on a number of factors. If you’re offering carpet cleaning services in Fort Worth, you might find yourself compared to Dalworth Clean’s site which has been around for decades.

All else being equal, there’s no way you’ll outpace an established company right away because they’ll always have seniority. The best way to gain ground on the big guys is to provide a steady stream of regular, useful content (like a site blog) to show Google that you’re a reliable resource for their users over time. You can also run maps and display ads for low-competition keywords, so you’ll show up early in searches whether you rank organically for them or not.

SEO is not a “set it and forget it” task.

If you’re hoping to hire someone to get your SEO in shape and part ways after the job is done, you need to rethink how SEO actually works. It is not a crash diet, it’s a healthy lifestyle. You don’t go through months of work and dieting to meet your goal weight, only to go back to pizza and beer and expect it to last. SEO needs maintenance and upkeep just like every other aspect of a functioning business, so learn to manage your expectations from a slow and steady mindset. The ultimate goal of any SEO service is to achieve wider reach and more conversions online. It won’t happen overnight, but building a solid foundation will benefit and sustain your business over time.

Looking to partner with a skilled marketing team to improve your SEO? We’d love to talk goals! Set up a call or meeting with us to discuss where your business is headed and how we can help pave the way: 682-719-0085


That’s it for this week’s Red Arrow Blog. If you found these resources useful, let us know below! And be sure to follow our social media for weekly articles to help you make the most of your business.

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