Whilst search rankings are important, striving to rank first for some keywords will be an unrealistic goal and should therefore not be your only priority. SEO results should be seen as outcomes, rather than outputs. With that out of the way let’s look at another crucial matter before we explore the time frames within which our SEO goals can be achieved.

We have to ask ourselves whether our current website allows for SEO strategies or whether it will be necessary to update or even to get a completely new website. This question is extremely important because good SEO starts with the website’s foundations. In other words, a website that was built with SEO in mind will fare much better than a website that was not build with SEO in mind.

Bearing the above in mind we can now consider the time frames that may be applicable in order to reach all our SEO goals.

Phase 1: Planning a SEO Strategy (0-2 months):

As is the case with all other successful projects we must plan our SEO strategy. The first month or so should be used to establish whether your website is SEO friendly or not, whether it can be changed to be SEO effective or whether a new website should be built afresh. Without going into too much detail this is the process where all the different components of your website should be examined, such as the HTML code used to structure the website, whether it is mobile friendly, how the content describes and/or compliments your product/brand.

When auditing a website as explained above it is also important to consider broken links, incorrect sitemaps, the speed of your website etc. as all of these will have a negative impact on search engines’ crawlers that visit and rank websites.

The audit results and strategy decided upon will indicate how much work needs to be done. This phase is extremely important as it will decide your plan of action going forward.

Phase 2: Implementing a SEO strategy (2 months and above):

After auditing your website and drafting a SEO plan it is time to implement your strategy. As you would have noticed, this process has an open-ended timeline. This is due to the fact that SEO is an ever-continuing process that also evolves over time.

It is important to iron out all the technical issues such as how your website is coded, whether the links are fully functioning as we need the website to be SEO ready in order for it to serve as the foundation upon which all our strategies will be implemented. I think it goes without saying that your timelines will be drastically affected if you need to have your website completely overhauled.

When your website is ready it is necessary to initiate a long-term content marketing strategy focused around your keyword research. According to Wikipedia “Keyword research is just a practice used by SEO Professionals to find and research actual search terms people enter into the search engines when conducting a search for a specific product or service. This research assists a website in obtaining better search engine rankings.”

Once the keyword research has been finalised it will be time to create content for your website around the keyword(s) (customers’ search phrases). This content will include articles, images, blogs, videos etc. that contain the keywords. The type of content that needs to be developed will obviously dictate the time needed to finalise the project.

Content should however not be created just for the sake of creating it for SEO purposes. It should be correct, factual and engaging. You will definitely see an increase in traffic within a few weeks of continuous publishing fresh and relevant content. Always remember that a website that is relevant and always has useful information for potential customers, is much more likely to be trusted which may lead to improved sales.

Phase 3: Seeing real results (8 to 12 months):

You can most definitely expect to wait at least 12 months before your SEO efforts will yield results. Although, as described above, your keywords will start performing better within a relative short period of time, it is only once you have a significant amount of traffic that you will experience an increase in sales/business.

The claim of some SEO Companies, as mentioned in an earlier post, that they will accomplish overnight results, should by now be proven to be incorrect. Although tempting, it is simply not true. It is one thing to get more traffic, it is quite a different kettle of fish altogether to turn these visitors into customers.

A very important thing to remember is that all the major search engines’ algorithms have evolved to the extent where websites with the best content publishers are rewarded with top rankings which in turn leads to more traffic. This also leads to better quality links.

I am sure that you will agree with me the higher SEO results can be equated with reputation. As the case is with reputation, it is something that is earned and needs to be continuously worked on.

SEO is therefore not just a financial investment. It is also a time investment for your business which may take a fair amount of time before you receive a notable return.

In summary:

I was tempted to include a brief discussion on the different SEO strategies that can be used such as link building, SEO friendly URLs, ROI metrics etc. but decided against it. There are simply too many strategies to deal with in an article and none of them will assist if you implement or try them individually.

Therefore this article is also not intended to be concise and exhaustive. It is merely a reminder that SEO is not just a magic wand that will bring results, nor is it an overnight project. SEO is also not a process containing a couple of sneaky tweaks anymore. It is something that you must take responsibility for and that it should always be an evolving process.

As always, you are welcome to comment on this article.

®WebScripto is a Pretoria based Website Design Studio.