The beloved practice of search engine optimization is one of the go-to strategies for businesses of all sorts and sizes, and its promise of better online visibility, greater brand awareness and improved customer engagement keeps bringing more players to the table. And they all keep asking the same thing: when will you start seeing the numbers go up as a result of your SEO campaigns?
And therein lies the rub. All SEO strategies are different, their purposes may vary, and with so many aspects to consider about each and every brand that applies SEO, there is no unified answer. Otherwise, there would be no point to this lengthy article.
But before we even begin answering this ever-so-complex question, there are several variables every business needs to take into account, evaluate, and the most probable timeline of SEO success will begin to emerge.
How specific is your business?
To grasp just how intricate the question of SEO can be, let’s start by defining the purpose of your business, as this essential quality will determine many future strategic SEO choices, and it will affect your ranking before you even set your foot in the world of optimization.
To illustrate our point, according to FashionUnited, the world-wide fashion industry is approximately 3 trillion dollars in value. Now that’s quite a staggering number of zeroes behind that three. And as they state, new clothing brands (mind the plural) emerge to join the ranks every single day. Yes, the demand surely is unparalleled, but many of these clothing brands remain in the shadows of major brands that have established themselves years, if not decades ago.
Now just imagine yet another, currently nameless brand, joining the fun. How on Earth do you, as vague as your company is, compete with the brand awareness of Nike, or H&M? As a response to these major conglomerates that rule the fashion world, businesses had to start adapting in order to survive, let alone flourish in such a competitive market: they have started narrowing down their business purpose and sticking to small, very specific niches that cater to a very select audience.
That means that suddenly your keywords turn from “underwear” to “menstrual underwear”, where companies such as Thinx focus on a very specific need of women, trans men and non-binary people. And the more specific, narrow-targeted you are, the greater your chances of being recognized sooner on the Internet, especially if you keep up with the content and keyword trends.
A study by Ahrefs took two million random keywords and explored the strength of their resulting pages depending on several factors, keyword volume being one of the most notable ones that affects the process of online recognition. Their results have shown that only 5.7% of new pages that were created within a year were lucky enough to skyrocket to the top 10. And among the few throne-holding pages on Google, the fastest to rank were those with low-volume keywords. That means that your competitors are few, if existing at all, and that your business has found a very specific target to aim at – successfully so.
Which SEO tactics are your priority?
Now that you have defined the purpose of your brand, your target audience, and your competitors (because just one simply doesn’t show a clear picture), you can consider what SEO can bring to the table. By knowing your competitive environment and your audience, you can determine if you should focus on a single, most relevant keyword for your business, or spread your net across a group of keywords?
What about your channels of communication, will you aim for those few, highly recognized publishing sources such as Forbes and the HuffPost, or will you rely on greater numbers of less-impactful blogs and influencers? If your audience is predominantly on Facebook, how often will you be active, seeking engagement, posting, sharing the content of others, etc.? All of these, and so many other “small” steps in your SEO play a pivotal role in how fast you will become visible.
Money, to put it crude and simple, also affects how fast you can see results, as every business looks to be on par with, if not superior, to their competition. Much like Newton’s Third Law, every action in SEO has an equal and opposite reaction among your competitors, and your audience. Remember that every decision you make to market your business and get recognized has an effect not only on your potential clientele, but your rivals as well – you might spur them to invest heavily in their SEO once your presence in the market becomes known.
And although every business is different, SEO experts form Four Dots point out that many fail to recognize several all-too-common poor SEO practices that should be avoided at all costs. Not focusing on your website’s loading speed and user experience are on the top of the list, as the fundamental reasons Google will penalize you, despite the fact that perhaps your product or service truly is unique.
The same goes for producing mountains of useless content that is either plagiarized, or feels like a poor copy of someone else’s work, once again sending you to the rarely glanced at tenth page of search results. In these hectic times, with people growing more impatient by the minute, these dusty, faraway pages are where all the poorly-optimized sites go to die – and it’s much more difficult to recover from such strategic slipups than to stick to a strong SEO practice to begin with.
How well do you know your target audience?
The customer may not always be right, but they do know a thing or two about what they want and need. Many new businesses conduct a preliminary research and stick to the results they’ve acquired as the main point of SEO reference. But opinions change, behaviors even more so, and so does the perception of your brand. That calls for further SEO adaptations on your end as well.
You may be able to soar your business within the first several months (anywhere between 4 to 6 months, according to Josh Steimle), but that’s merely the beginning of your journey, which doesn’t promise to remain an upward one if you resort to poor SEO strategies down the road.
Now that you’ve established a direction and created the initial buzz, you need to stay on top of what your customers are saying, what they need, how the market is fluctuating, and how their connection to your brand may vary. It takes long-term effort for your brand not to become yet another “crush” of your customers, but in fact develop an enduring emotional connection. For such “love” to happen, you need to be in the right places, at the right times, using the right language and visuals, constantly adapting to the audience.
Otherwise, what may have seemed like an initial wave of success may fade away and slowly plummet your visibility rates in search engines. So, whatever your starting tactics may be, always strive to adapt to the changing tides of the market, and you’ll have a chance to not only reach the proverbial top ten, but also remain steadfast on your throne for years to come.
Guest article written by: Dan Radak is a marketing professional with eleven years of experience. He is currently working with a number of companies in the field of digital marketing, closely collaborating with a couple of e-commerce companies. He is also a coauthor on several technology websites and regular contributor to Technivorz.