“How much time will it take to rank this keyword?”
It is the most annoying ‘million dollar question,’ every client throws at the SEO guy.
And the typical response is..
“Ummm.. 3–6 months”
“Well,6–9 months give or take”
And my favourite..
It doesn’t matter, which part of earth they are from, businesses that need SEO services will ask this question.
I have been on the receiving end too many times 🙂
I am not against asking this question. But,one should get the entire picture before taking up any activity. And in this case, one might not be familiar with how SEO works.
But the problem comes afterwards, when people have set unrealistic expectations while answering such questions. You just end up inviting trouble.
How should we address this issue with all parties coming to a mutual agreement?
Well, there is an critical factor to consider when approaching SEO activities. You need to constantly remind yourself of this one thing, and this is PATIENCE
Patience is the number one investment you need to do when dealing with SEO activities. (this applies to both the client and the SEO guys)
Patience is one virtue that you must swear by while you are dealing with SEO activities. What?! Hold on, you’re telling me with technology advancement, evolution in tactics and numerous data points at disposal, SEO still requires us to be patient?
YES, that’s true. And I get it, the core pain point lies here.
Why pay a digital marketing agency that is potentially sitting on the other side of the planet and I can’t even know what I am getting for it? I need to be patient?
Again, YES! You need to have patience.
Here’s the thing-
Long-term strategies are always better than short-term fixes.
And there is no better way to resonate this with SEO. You have to be in it for the longhaul.
SEO is not a sprint race; it is a never-ending marathon. Even if you cross the finish line, YOU HAVE TO KEEP RUNNING.
We live in a world where..
Love is found on a right swipe,
Smartphones are delivered within the same day,
“Advanced” courses are completed in six hours.
So trying to convey someone (who is not SEO savvy) that it will take 6 to 12 months or even more to rank keywords in the top positions, and they will happily accept it- It’s not going to happen.
Nobody ever thinks that the smartphone that got delivered the same day went through a journey of research and engineering. And that journey wasn’t completed in a few days.
But no, we want everything NOW!
Unfortunately, with this ‘instant gratification’ mindset, people end up taking the unethical route or ‘Blackhat’ technique to implement SEO tactics. This includes publishing duplicate content, buying links or creating irrelevant and low-quality backlinks.
You may see quick results, but the party won’t last long. Search engines will eventually figure this out and penalize your website for manipulative practices.
You have also seen YouTube videos or read articles about the ‘hacks’ of SEO, how implementing A-B-C steps will get your website ranking on the first page of Google, some plugins which can push your keyword rankings, and so on. These suggestions can be good for someone who has just started the SEO journey. But there’s no additional information which can be helpful. Many of these suggestions are like those chocolate bars, the same flavour wrapped in a new cover.
We keep exploring the web, hoping to find better answers. Why?
Because it is hard to accept that things will take time. Simply put, we become impatient.
The fact is, each business is unique. And there are multiple factors deciding how much effort and time it will take to rank your website. Sure, many of those factors are in our control and can be executed by the book, but a lot also depends on what the client’s goals are.
How competitive is the business?
What location are you targeting?
Who are you targeting?
Do you have the budget to implement the strategy?
Is the product even ready for sales?
And many more..
There are factors like these that need to be properly addressed, as it can prevent us from executing activities as planned.
SEO is beautiful. When done right, it will give you the desired fruits, but it demands some respect.
Some of us who are already familiar with SEO, have experienced undesirable delays. For example
- Indexing — Getting a new Title tag indexed could take more than 24 hours when you expect it within 5 minutes. You keep submitting the URL in Google Search Console, but nothing. Frustration.
- The Google dance — Keyword which was ranking on the 2nd page till yesterday, suddenly started ranking on the 9th page.
You do your diagnosis, come across errors and quickly fix them. But Google doesn’t show you the results immediately. You need to take into account such uncertain events and deal with them patiently.
There are several examples where I can go on talking about unexpected delays in SEO activities, but that’s for some other day.
While these are technical issues we face during the SEO process, there are a couple of things we should address before the process starts
Before any SEO project starts, it is vital to have a detailed discussion about the project. Educating each other about what goes behind the scenes will give you more clarity about the process. The understanding of being patient gets more receptive. Let’s not have short-term greed, which will lead to long-term resentment.
Expectations need to be managed throughout the funnel.
Sometimes getting approvals for a very rudimentary purpose goes through the organisation’s hierarchy. For example, getting access to Google Search Console.
I have faced such issues many times, especially with Fortune 500 clients. The key here is to have a SPOC who gets these things out of the way, so everyone focuses on important matters ats hand.
I agree that it can be difficult to convince higher management that making changes takes time, and search engines can be slow to react. But,as we have discussed, it is important to be clear and set the expectations right from the word go.
SEO is a complex process. It takes time for search engines to trust your website. After all, Google is made to help users get the right information and that should come from a trustworthy source.
Have patience and build trust, it will be worth it.
So the next time someone asks you, “How much time will it take to rank this keyword?”
Send them this article 🙂