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SEO Results

by Tim Clarke

“How Long Will It Take to See SEO Results?”

There’s a natural tension between marketers and their SEO providers. Marketers want immediate results; providers caution that achieving results can take time. What are some reasonable expectations that marketers should have for their campaigns?
What’s one common thread among most marketers? They’re looking for fast results! In a world fueled by technology, timelines for generating results of any kind are tending to become shorter and shorter. But, when it comes to SEO, results can take time. It’s worth the time, say the experts, to let an SEO effort take root.

It Takes Time to Grow SEO
Ian Stevenson is vice president of sales at Straight North. “SEO takes time,” stresses Stevenson, who notes that Straight North has an initial term of contract of six months—with month-to-month engagement after that. “It is not immediate cause and effect where you hire Straight North today and at the end of the month you’re seeing great results. It doesn’t work that way. We’re planting seeds, and those seeds will grow up and bear fruit in due time, but it does take time.” Allowing time—in his case six months—for those seeds to grow is necessary to effectively evaluate results, Stevenson stresses.

Six months may actually not be long enough to judge effectiveness in some cases, says Sean Bolton, CEO of Lead to Conversion. “SEO is a long term initiative that takes at least 2-3 months to start seeing results, with up to 12 months to see solid results for hypercompetitive phrases.” If you’re encountering SEO providers that are offering month to month options at the outset, this should be a red flag, says Bolton. “At a minimum, SEO campaigns should be 12 months, but come with early out clauses built into the contract/scope of work for no less than 3 or 6 months depending on the competitiveness of the client vertical.” Bolton says that typical SEO engagements for Lead to Conversion range from 6 to 12 months, on average. That’s fairly standard.

“We usually want at least six months,” says Garrett Mehrguth, CEO and co-founder of Directive Consulting. “We’ll do 90-day revolving, we’ll do month-to-month, we’ll do a year, we’ll do two years. It really depends on what the client is looking for and how they feel most comfortable with their vendors and partners.”- a little weird here Ultimately, says Mehrguth, what’s important in establishing a vendor relationship is exactly that—the relationship. “We don’t worry too much about the contract, we want the relationship,” he says. “Once we have the relationship, we deliver results, so we don’t worry as much about that.”

Those Who Over-Promise May Under-Deliver.
Some marketers can be easily swayed by vendors who promise fast results; that’s understandable. After all, particularly for new or very young businesses, generating revenue is critical—the sooner the better. But, caution the experts, be wary of being swayed by any vendor that promises fast results.

Watch out, says Mike Rosa, director of marketing at 180fusion, “for anyone that promises you pie in the sky results, especially in unreasonable or unattainable timeframes.” SEO, asserts Rosa, “is a medium to long-term strategy.

“Most of the time our clients require anywhere from six to eighteen months for most of the rankings to mature.”
“We do our best to help the customers understand that if you’re only going to invest in this for a month, don’t do it, save your money,” says Kelly Shelton, vice president of marketing and channel partners at Boostability. “If you’re not prepared to give it six to nine months, then you’re just throwing money away because it does take time. We don’t ask for a contract, but we do ask for a commitment.”

White Hat is the Only Way to Go!
While marketers are anxious to see results from their SEO efforts, there are good reasons to play it safe, notes Rosa.
“Anyone who promises you, ‘I can get you ranked for such and such keyword in 30 days,’ chances are, one, they’re overselling and they won’t be able to deliver on the promise, or two, they’re using methods that will ultimately get you penalized or get you in trouble, either in the near term or with the rollout of the next algorithm update.

Finding a company that believes in sustainable SEO practices is very important, Rosa says. “In a similar way that the medical industry has the Hippocratic Oath to ‘do no harm,’ we really believe that our SEO work shouldn’t pose any sort of risk or do any sort of harm to our clients’ sites. Finding somebody who believes in doing SEO the right way, the sustainable way, even if it’s sometimes the slightly slower way, is your safe bet in the long term.”

Reputable SEO providers are not going to promise you fast results. That’s because they’re focused on doing SEO right. Doing it right takes time—up to a year in some cases. The big takeaway for marketers: be willing to invest both money and time into developing an SEO strategy that is built to last.

Author Bio: Tim Clarke is the Research Manager with Clutch, Clutch identifies leading software and professional services firms that deliver results for their clients. Tim heads the SEO and PPC research at Clutch. You can follow Clutch at @clutch_co  

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