This blog is intended for somebody who has a new website or has never done “SEO” before. So you want to know how long SEO takes? Read on…
Where do we begin? As internet marketers we get asked this all the time. I will provide you an answer, but you’ll have to promise to not skip to the end!
Let’s assume you are talking about Search Engine Optimization a.k.a. SEO. Paid search will let you get to page one quickly, but it will cost you each time someone clicks on your link.
Back to SEO, where the first page doesn’t come in a day. Most people when they ask this question are thinking of one thing: a “fat head” keyword. Something like, let’s say “dentist.”
They think “if I only ranked for the word dentist, I would get so much business!” This person might even have used to Google Keyword Planner to get estimated search volume, done the math and saw a pot of gold at the end of the search rainbow.
Ranking for “dentist” might get you a lot of new business, but there are a few things to consider.
Is it worth the time and effort to focus on only one keyword?
Is it realistic, if at all even possible?
If Google shows different results to different people, will it really pay off as much as I think it will?
How qualified will those leads be?
Would spending some of your money on a conversion-friendly page be better than investing it all in SEO?
Do the majority of people still search that way?
What is going to make YOU any more of a dentist than any other dentist out there? I.e. how are you going to be more RELEVANT for that search?
For those of you not familiar with “Fat Head” “Chunky Middle” and “Long Tail” this diagram from the leading SEO site Moz illustrates the idea quite well:
”Dentist” would be a fat head term for our purposes. Below I’ve classified a few in each of the categories:
Fat Head: dentist, dentist office, dental office, dental clinic
Chunky Middle: dentist toronto, dental office toronto, toronto dentist emergency, toronto dentist open sunday, toronto dentist prices, toronto dentist downtown.
Longtail: “what dental procedures are covered by OHIP?” “does it hurt to have a root canal?” “are dental x-rays damaging?”
If you focus on creating a website that satisfies a good portion of the chunky middle and even a small slice of the long-tail, you’ll inevitably end up satisfying Google for the fat head keywords like dentist, dentist office, and dental clinic (for some of the searchers, remember that everyone’s search results are different).
If you’re still set on fat head keywords, be prepared to pay! …in a number of ways.
If we’re talking PPC, you may pay $8-9 per click (current estimated bid in Toronto Canada).
If you’re talking SEO, you could end up paying a very big price: having your site never show in Google search results again!
If an SEO company says they can get you to the number one position in a number of weeks they
a) have a black hat link network that they’ll gladly weave you into for a hefty fee
b) are wizards.
Choosing “A” is very risky, because although your site may get some traffic, the next Google algorithm update is bound to knock you off the first page. Do you really want to go through hiring extra staff when business is good, then have to lay them off because you’re no longer ranking? If you choose this path, and you’re de-indexed from Google, your only hope is to build a new site and re-name your business while you’re at it.
So really, how long does it take to make it to the first page of Google?
If you’re doing it with sustainability in mind, then it will probably take 3-6 months depending on how much you invest, and how savvy your competition is.
You need a long-term effort that takes a holistic approach and not simply SEO and building links. You need to have content to go after those chunky middle and long-tail terms (blogs are especially great for long-tails). You’ll also benefit from social media in order to get that content out there. Ideally, also you’re willing to put a little bit of budget into Facebook promoted posts to expand your reach.
As you begin to work with a reputable SEO agency (in Toronto like us), your site’s authority will increase. You can use a tool like Open Site Explorer to find out your Domain Authority (similar to Google pagerank, but a much more accurate and more frequently updated indicator of site quality). As your site ages it will earn Google’s trust and will begin to rank for a broader range of keywords. On average, we expect to see first page organic rankings at the 3-6 month mark (this can take less, or more time depending on your industry). After 3-6 months our goal is to rank on the first page for a subset of the initial keyword list. We will track/report on a wide-range of keywords so you can chart your progress over time. An SEO agency shouldn’t limit you to a tight list of keywords to focus on, remember if that were the case you’d be missing out on a lot of “chunky middle” traffic.
I hope I’ve answered this question for most of you. Ask these questions to your SEO company:
What is the competition like in my sector?
What level of service would you recommend to be competitive?
How will you help me track results?
That’s it, that’s “how to be #1 in Google!”
P.S. As the content marketing manager at TechWyse I’d be remiss not to mention this: anybody who tells you SEO can be done without content, is a) either lying and doesn’t know they’re talking about b) involved in a black hat link scheme and will likely put your site in danger of being de-indexed by a search algorithm update.
P.P.S. There once was a day where you could build all your links to one fat head keyword, e.g. dentistwebsite.com with the anchor “dentist.” There was a time this worked, and would help you rank for dentist. Today, doing this will have the exact opposite effect and penalize your site. It’s very rare to consistently rank #1 for a keyword — Google’s algorithm changes far too much to allow for this.
Please feel free to connect with me on social media @strategyinventr or leave a comment below!