This is an honest article without nonsense. It is about what you need to expect and how you can be a great client with the correct mindset and understanding. The most difficult thing for an SEO agency like us is to have patience when the client loses said patience. We do everything that needs to be done: We optimize your content, change your page structure, improve your landing pages, get high-quality backlinks, optimize the user experience and so on. Still, nothing happens…yet.
It can be terribly frustrating. Especially because clients want to see quick results. But usually Google doesn’t let that happen quickly – what follows is the big drama.
How Google prevents a rapid ascent
The reason for this phenomenon is that Google has many different triggers in its algorithm that check whether the SEO efforts are worth it, natural, and continuous enough to be rewarded with better rankings. For example, the algorithm may find that everything is going a little too fast and therefore delays ranking improvements. This is why we limit what we do in order to have a healthy schedule, not one that goes too far. Patience is paramount.
If I make an OnPage change or set a backlink, Google detects it while crawling and but will not instantly rank you better. No, everything is evaluated, compared, and decided depending on the authority (and other factors) of your website. The whole thing does not happen overnight, but with a time delay. And these delays can be weeks or even months.
For this reason, you often see plateaus in your rankings statistics (we give you access to a tool that allows you to check this whenever you want). Google doesn’t trust the whole thing yet or the effort hasn’t been considered worthy yet.
Steady growth is rare. This is only possible for projects without time pressure. A good example of this is our own website.
If there is no pressure to perform and we can make all decisions independently, our process always brings you to the top.
SEO is a marathon. Those who do not understand this will suffer in the first 6 to 12 months. Think of your website as a garden and us as the gardeners that set out to make it fruitful. A plant does not grow faster through more willpower and infinite amounts of fertilizer. Growth is a natural process that needs one thing above all else – time!
The phases of an SEO campaign
Phase 1: The Honeymoon
At the beginning of a new project, there is a lot to do and every change can quickly lead to significantly better rankings. After all, the project is new, so that every improvement is a big step forward.
Phase 2: The Grind
In order to achieve further ranking improvements, however, the effort is constantly increasing. A great deal of effort must be put into generating small advances. Even regressions are quite normal in this phase. In the middle phase, effort and results are not well proportioned.
Phase 3: The Snowball
In the long run, everything will settle down and you will feel the so-called snowball effect that makes SEO so lucrative. New keywords can be conquered faster and the visibility grows disproportionately compared to the effort. Best practices are implemented and need to be maintained.
By the way: These phases can also be applied to groups of keywords and parts of a website. In a campaign, however, there can also be severe setbacks. Namely, if a web page is affected by a Google filter, has been punished or loses rankings due to many 404 errors. Also, Google constantly updates/improves its algorithm, which means the rules of the game change. That is why SEO is not a self-runner even after 12 months.
How to enjoy the first months of an SEO campaign
Expectations vs. reality
Clients often have completely wrong ideas and expectations about search engine optimization. Most people believe that it starts with a big investment and when the project takes off all problems are solved.
Yeah, it’s about getting the ball rolling, but it’s taking longer than you may think. Or do you think that in 3 to 6 months you will become an authority in an industry? If I enter politics today, I will hardly manage to be elected president in a year’s time. It can certainly happen within 6 months for local businesses depending on competition, but not for national rankings.
When the project really gets going, it gets easier. Until then, however, our strategies must first be implemented and “accepted” by Google.
This gap between expectations and reality often leads to dissatisfaction.
Here are some problematic expectations:
“SEO is a one-time effort”
No, it’s not at all. Is gardening a one-time effort? No! New content has to be constantly optimized, new links have to be created and so on and so forth. You won’t remain popular only because you once belonged to the “best”. Times change. Google is changing. The competition is changing. Who brakes falls behind.
“Once my site is optimized, it’s perfect forever”
Constant efforts must be made to stay ahead. If you put the best product on the market, it won’t be the best product for long if it isn’t constantly improved and optimized. You rest, you rust. Your competitors may do SEO as well, especially if they are in the top 10 already. If you do nothing after reaching a top spot, they will surpass you. This is a race and you can never stop running. This is why we usually work with our clients on retainer.
“With SEO, rankings will only go up.”
People tend to immediately rejoice and celebrate visible results. If things are going so well, everyone expects that it will inevitably have to go on like this. But no, it could very well be a short-term ranking improvement. Google may be experimenting with the algorithm and undoing a change they made before. Always stay cool and patient. The process is what matters. Stability is the goal. Rankings fluctuate a lot, but the overall trend is going to be positive.
Don’t be dependent on SEO
SEO is the most lucrative and biggest traffic source for local businesses. However, make sure it is not your only one. If everything depends on your rankings, the problem is not search engine optimization but your business model. It won’t help if you send us panic emails. Google can’t be forced to give you quick rankings. This is why we point multiple traffic sources your way and also like to run Google ads when we start a project so that you recoup your investment immediately.
A company with only one main pillar is not a company, but a time bomb. From our own experience, websites with many different visitor sources are also more successful in organic search.
Pay less attention to rankings
At the beginning of an SEO campaign, it does not make sense to stiffen up on the placements. Rankings won in a new project are quickly lost again.
Ideally, you should use KPIs in Google Analytics such as
- Time on Page
- Long Tail Traffic
- Social media shares
- Quality of the page structure
These points correlate well with rankings. Just think that Google needs time to get to know and love your website. As always, the focus should be on the process. The rankings and traffic increase will follow.
Even if you have now read through this article, I can promise you that you will likely panic in between. Therefore print it out and take it out of the drawer if necessary. Search engine optimization needs a lot of patience but pays off tremendously. It is important to stay on the ball and stick to the plan. Then everything will be all right.