Why SEO Strategy Takes a Long-term Commitment

When you’re just starting out in business, you’re most likely scrambling to get it off the ground. You’re worried about whether or not your business will have enough cash flow to keep creditors at bay, how to ensure you have a competitive advantage, how to market yourself, ensuring sufficient inventory to meet demand without paying for excess inventory, how to juggle all the demands made on your time, how to hire the right people, and much more. The first few months of running a business are very tough; honestly, there’s no doubt about it. In all this juggling you may overlook your SEO strategy or may not even understand how important SEO is for every business. So, we’re here to help.

seo strategyA lot of business owners immediately think, “Alright, I made my website, and I have social media channels; why don’t I have traffic to my website or my store?”. In fact, even those who recognize their need for SEO by hiring an SEO company, an SEO expert to work in-house, or even hire freelancers (whether it be web developers, copywriters, SEO specialists, and so on) expect their search rank to skyrocket immediately. Well, that’s not how SEO strategy works. But, practiced diligently over time, you’ll definitely find your search rank improving and see profits coming in.

SEO is a long-term game, and business owners need to understand how to optimize their marketing campaigns. Then, they need to monitor the right metrics to ensure their SEO strategy is working. Don’t be too hasty to adjust your strategy, or you’ll find yourself like the golfer who constantly overshoots the hole in her efforts to sink the put. Also, monitor changes to the ranking algorithm to ensure you adjust your strategy accordingly.

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why SEO is a long-term strategy

Why you need a sound SEO strategy

Regardless of whether you operate an e-commerce store or have a physical store, most shopping experiences today start online, as you can see in the graphic below.

start search online

You likely know from your own search behavior that you often do exactly what 63% of other users do when you need something. You enter a search term (or, with the spread of devices like Alexa, you conduct a voice search) to find a local store that offers a solution to your problem or a company offering it online. You commonly choose an option on the first page of search results and may even choose one near the top of that page. Studies show that content in the first search position gets 25% of the clicks, while those in the top three positions garner nearly 70% of the clicks.

Advertising doesn’t compensate for a poor rank in search results. Although users might compare prices for different solutions using shopping ads, they commonly ignore the sponsored posts and jump right to the first organic posts. SEO, including local SEO, helps your content show in these coveted positions users click. In fact, for most business websites, In fact, a study in 2019 showed that 53% of your website traffic, on average, came from organic search (the type generated by clicks from search engine results), and only 15% came from paid search. There’s just no other digital marketing strategy that can deliver enough results to replace an unproductive SEO strategy. Hence, you need a website that shows up near the top in search engine results when users search for your offerings.

Why an SEO strategy takes time to show results

Even with a well-run SEO strategy, it commonly takes four to six months before you can expect to see results. It can take up to a year to see the full results of your SEO campaign. But, the returns are better than any other marketing strategy you might use instead, as you can see in the image below.

Why does it take so long? Read on to find out.

SEO lead generation
Image courtesy of Brafton

Building authority and trust takes time

SEO is not just about optimizing your website for search engines; it’s about delivering valuable content and creating user experiences that resonate with your readers. This is where businesses go wrong; they think they can add a few keywords to their website, and BAM, they’re ranking. It just doesn’t work that way; it never has, and it never will.

What you need to do, and it’s exactly what any SEO expert will tell you, is to consistently publish high-quality content, earn backlinks from reputable sources, and provide a seamless user experience. By producing at least one high-quality piece of content each week (and more is better), you gradually build authority and trust with both search engines and users. Crafting custom images and infographics, in addition to high-quality textual content, attracts backlinks to high-authority websites, which is a major ranking factor. Sharing that content on social media platforms to build engagement with followers is another major factor impacting your rank. Finally, ensure that content conforms with industry standards and takes advantage of factors with higher weighting from the Google search algorithm. Here are some things to consider when crafting content based on these factors:

  • Long-form content outperforms shorter content. And industry standards for length keep increasing. Currently, content ranking in the top positions is more than 2000 words.
  • Include images. For a piece of content that’s around 2000 words, you need four or five images. Custom images can drive backlinks.
  • Use your unique keyword every 250 words, on average. Also. include your keyword (actually a keyword phrase so it’s unique on your website) in one or more headings, as alt tags on a few images, and in your meta description. Don’t overuse your keywords.

    long-tail keywords
    Image courtesy of Yoast

Again, this takes time. Just like in real relationships, someone doesn’t immediately earn your trust; it takes time. This trust is not established overnight but is cultivated over time through a strategic and sustained effort.

Algorithms are always changing

No one likes this, but Google and other search engines constantly change the algorithm used to determine rank. They don’t do it to piss you off but to ensure that users find value in the search results provided. Google does this particularly well, which is why it still captures over 90% of search traffic. The most recent Google update is no exception. But there’s nothing that you can do but deal with it (as harsh as that sounds). It’s not even just Google; generally speaking, search engine algorithms are constantly evolving to deliver more relevant and authoritative content to users.

While algorithm updates can sometimes disrupt your rankings (like the recent update has been doing to many businesses), keep in mind that a well-rounded SEO strategy that focuses on creating valuable content and adhering to best practices provides a solid foundation for weathering these changes. Basically, it’s about providing insightful information, nothing that’s low-hanging fruit or generic. Plus, this means keeping up with industry trends and incorporating these within your business.

I remember when I first started out in 2009, my SEO mentor advised me to use my keyword (and, in those days, it was a single word) more frequently in my content. I didn’t follow his advice as I was focused on providing value to my readers. Sure enough, about six months later, Google changed its algorithm to stop keyword stuffing (adding a lot of keywords while not making a lot of sense with your writing). My content shot up as content written by those following the fashionable advice saw their content drop off the first page.

You need to think about sustainable growth

Unlike paid advertising, where your visibility is directly tied to your ad spend, the impact of SEO compounds over time. This goes exactly with what was said above; it just takes time to win over trust, and sometimes, it might even take a lot of time. But sustainable growth is always the best way to go because that’s where you really lay out the foundation.

Building a sound SEO strategy isn’t cheap, either. Experts found most businesses spend between $500 and $10,000 a month for SEO. If you’re just starting out, maybe you budget at the low end for SEO strategy. Even so, as a new business, you might be tempted to reduce or even cut your expenses by forgoing SEO. While you might not see much damage from this tactic immediately, you’ll definitely find your rank dropping over time and your revenue will follow.

Conclusion

Building a sound SEO strategy takes time but the payoff is worth the expense. Focus on creating a trusting relationship based on sharing valuable content on your website and social media, and you’ll see the rewards accrue over time.

Need marketing help to support business growth?

We welcome the opportunity to show you how we can make your marketing SIZZLE with our data-driven, results-oriented marketing strategies.  Sign up for our FREE newsletter, get our FREE guide to creating an awesome website, or contact us for more information on hiring us.

Hausman and Associates, the publisher of MKT Maven, is a full-service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media. Check out our full range of services.