You’ve long known that SEO is a valuable tool to drive traffic to your website, increase conversions, and grow revenue, but maybe you’re uncertain about how it really works. That’s understandable. It can be tough to gain clarity in an industry crowded with jargon-loving fast-talkers who desperately don’t want you to notice their lack of expertise.
Maybe you let lingering doubts prevent you from committing to a long-term SEO strategy. Instead, you decide that you’ll dip in for a quick win and leave the door open for a hasty exit if you don’t see the gains you’re hoping for.
It’s a common thought process, but a focus on short-term SEO gains engenders the foregone conclusion that those efforts will fail to yield sustained growth. In a worst-case scenario, quick-win thinking can damage your brand and devalue your online presence.
The Waiting is the Hardest Part
People often make the mistake of expecting results from SEO on the same timeline as other tactics they use. While it’s reasonable to assume that you’d see some lift after 30 days of running an ad campaign, an SEO strategy takes longer to show measurable returns. That’s because they are different types of marketing channels.
It can be tough to keep the faith when you’re accustomed to the dopamine rush of seeing immediate results from your efforts. Add the pressure of stakeholders impatient to see a return on their investment, and it’s easy to understand why so many people turn to a month-to-month SEO provider to boost their search rankings.
Short-term Thinking Never Yields Long-term Results
Since your business goals are long-term, your SEO strategy should be too. Remember, it’s not just about getting more traffic; it’s about getting more qualified traffic that converts into leads and subsequently grows revenue. An experienced, reputable SEO agency will focus first on understanding your long-term business goals and then build a strategy that supports them.
The Month-to-Month Mistake
If you go looking for a month-to-month contract for SEO services, you’ll absolutely find someone willing to work with you under those terms. You might even come across consultants or agencies that “guarantee” results within 30 days. When you hear promises of speedy spikes in your organic traffic, let these two words guide you back to your senses… Buyer. Beware.
There are SEO techniques out there that will generate an instant lift in organic traffic to your website. Unfortunately, these techniques usually violate search engine terms of service. Search engines are designed to bring valuable content to the people who are looking for it. But, “black hat” SEO techniques cheat the system, bypassing any benefit to the user to dishonestly increase search rankings.
When, not if Google detects that your website uses black hat SEO, it may issue a penalty that triggers an update to its PageRank algorithm, downgrading your website’s ranking performance or, in worst-case scenarios, entirely delisting it from the search engine. Imagine the nightmare scenario of your website being completely invisible to people searching for your products or services. Not. Worth. It.
Some agencies or consultants are happy to sign a month-to-month agreement with you because they know they can’t prove their results any longer than that. Plus, by nature of your short-term agreement with them, they don’t need to be concerned about the consequences of their tactics on your business.
The Compounding Returns of a Long-term SEO Plan
SEO done right is a long game, but the reward is sustainable growth that gains momentum over time. Because Google rewards sites for consistency, consider building your search rankings as an evolutionary rather than a revolutionary process. While it requires some patience, you’ll find that continual effort yields continual results.
Research by Ahrefs found that the average age of a top-ten ranking page on Google is over two years old and that pages in the number one spot are, on average, 3 years old. That time has been spent consistently engaged in activities that build authority, relevancy, and trust.
There are no shortcuts to building trust.
We think of SEO as a flywheel wherein each turn, though difficult at first, builds momentum until you have a machine in perpetual motion. By building relevancy, your site gains authority, which increases its visibility and leads to more conversions, which contributes to relevancy, builds authority, further increases visibility, and leads to even more conversions.
No trickery. No mystery. No smoke and mirrors. Instead, a disciplined approach and a rigorous process that produce sustained results over time.
What to Look for in an SEO Partner
When you’re ready to elevate your search rankings, you want to work with a team that’s dedicated to your success. Look for a partner that has a deep bench of experts and a structure that provides continuity of service, established processes, and consistent, reliable communication. An experienced customer success team that understands your business goals should be available to answer any questions or concerns you may have at any point of your SEO campaign.
Your SEO agency should be fully transparent about their processes and able to explain the work they’re doing on your behalf in clear and concise terms. Ask prospective agencies what their reporting process is. How often will they review results with you? What metrics will they be measuring? Will reports be understandable and tie directly back to your business goals?
A great partner will constantly monitor progress toward your goals, course-correcting as necessary. If the winds shift in your competitive landscape or algorithm changes threaten to throw your rankings off course, a committed SEO partner will provide honest recommendations and plot safe passage through choppy waters.
Reputable SEO agencies will outline clear, achievable objectives for your campaign and provide a timeline of work they reliably adhere to. Ask to see case studies for other clients in your niche. If you have unique obstacles to overcome, as did the company described above, find an agency with a proven track record that speaks to your business needs.
No references? No way! When you ask for references, a great agency should have a ready contingent of current or former clients eager to sing their praises. Do due diligence and call as many references as you can. If an agency balks at your rigorous review process, back away from them and move on to find a partner that appreciates your thorough appraisal of their work.
Your SEO strategy should support your long-term business goals. Short cuts rarely offer sustainable progress and, if you’re not careful, can put your brand reputation at risk — not to mention impact your ability to generate revenue.
Resist flashy promises and quick win solutions. Find an SEO agency you can trust who will walk shoulder-to-shoulder with you on a journey of sustainable growth.