SEO In Houston: How Long Does It Take To Work?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is an absolute necessity in today’s online world, and admittedly it’s not the simplest of exercises. Any major provider of digital leads or online services has fielded the question “How long does it take to rank in Google?” or some variation thereof. Chances are this question comes up with virtually every new client. While it makes sense as something a business owner wants to know, the problem is that there’s no simple answer. There are multiple reasons for this, not the least of which is the ever-changing world and even the very nature of SEO.
Ranking #1 or even ranking at the top of page one involves many different factors, and it isn’t as simple as it used to be as Google has introduced things like maps, snippets, above fold ads, related queries, and more. Whether wanting to know how to rank for #1 specifically or just top half of page one of Google, trying to put a timeline on things is really impractical.
Houston SEO Now vs SEO Then
There is an absolutely huge difference between how SEO used to be and how it is now, and that doesn’t help the confusion around the time issue. There was a time where simply identifying major keywords, writing some content repeating the keywords, and getting/making/buying backlinks and that would be it. There wasn’t much competition. There would be 5-10 main keywords, and they would be the big winners.
That was how things used to be. Normally when we find a client who talks about being #1 for a specific keyword or for just 2-3 keywords, it’s clear they have an idea of the old way of doing things. While this might have worked at one point, to be blunt nowadays this strategy is wrong. The truly big keywords are dominated by 20-year-old websites from established brands. In addition to this, Google’s data shows that most traffic comes from new keyword searches, longtail keyword searches, and most high traffic sites get hundreds or thousands of different searches making up that traffic.
In other words, if you’re completely focused on a small number of generic keywords you’re not likely to rank for anyway, that’s a losing old school strategy.
Modern SEO that is done well will have a very different focus. Between the expectation of getting very specific information to the use of mobile devices for search, to natural language searches due to vocal software, the overwhelming amount of traffic comes from natural phrases, questions, and keyword queries that are three words or way more.
Since searches are becoming more and more detailed for better more precise results, this actually opens up a lot of opportunities. Whereas the “top traffic” general keywords are often near impossible to rank for, there are thousands or tens of thousands of terms out there which have little competition, very few (or no sites) optimized for them, and this allows blog posts with dozens of these related terms to be used and ranked for quite easily.
This is great news. The traffic numbers might be smaller, but when combined they can add up quickly. In addition to this since the focus includes more detail that means your ranking pages will be more relevant, the traffic will convert at a much higher rate, and the end result means more visits, more followers, and more customers.
That true bottom line benefit should be your focus on modern SEO.
Do Rankings Still Really Matter?
Sure, rankings matter to an extent. You have to be found for your website to work for you. That being said, chances are that individual keyword rankings don’t matter as much as you think they do, and contrary to instinct, that isn’t the main measurement you should focus your attention on.
While higher keyword rankings are definitely a good sign, the end result you want isn’t a bunch of #1 rankings, but more leads and more paying customers. That outcome is what you should be focusing on above all else: the bottom line results.
After all, would you rather want five #1 rankings that bring only 3-4 new customers a month, or many middles of the page longtail keyword rankings that don’t look impressive but bring in 25-50 new customers a month?
That should be an easy question to answer.
How Long Does SEO In Houston Take To Work?
Understanding the real intent behind this question is leads, sales, and business and not just top keyword rankings, then understand that the answer is “It depends.” That might not be a gratifying answer, but it is the only honest one. We understand this can be frustrating, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
There are many different factors that go into how likely a website is to rank in a niche. Just a very short list includes:
- How old your website is
- If your website has ever been penalized
- How competitive is your niche
- Are you local, regional, national, or internationally based?
- How many backlinks do you have?
- How clean the coding is
- How much good content exists
- Does Google see you as trustworthy
- Does Google see you as an authority
- Is the past of your domain name (URL) clean or dirty?
These are just some of the many factors involved and no two situations are the same, even among websites competing against each other in the same market.
The SEO Process Timeline
One thing that we can give you is a general timeline of our SEO process to get the process going for every single one of our clients.
Full niche research, SEO audit of your website, figuring out an effective keyword strategy and planning the long-term customized plan that will work specifically for your site and your situation.
We begin the technical SEO work based on our findings during the audit. This is important and we’ll take the necessary time to do it right since this sets the foundation for everything to follow. Some changes are quick, some can take months. Generally, technical SEO doesn’t lead to any noticeable changes or surges – but these are crucial to getting those bursts of traffic in the future. If appropriate, we may start adding quality content or building links during this time.
This is when the all-important step of content creation really gets attention. This not only includes articles and blogging, but also white papers, filling out website informational pages, and more. Many times the first signs of benefit can be seen by the end of a month, but the large jump from consistently great content takes place further down the line.
Continuing with the long-term content creation plan, finishing up any technical SEO at this point, and taking care of your site’s backlinks. This means disavowing damaging links, cleaning up low-quality links, and searching for opportunities for high-quality links. Many companies start seeing some good signs of life here, but this will be a trickle compared to another 6 or 12 months down the line.
Add in social media management, more content-based outreach, as well as PR & media outreach for branding and getting attention from Google for more trust and authority. This often leads to direct SEO benefit, as well.
If traffic is at 5,000+ a month, conversion rate optimization is looked at to test and really make sure you’re getting the most possible out of every visitor. If not, the earlier steps continue as long-term content and outreach will pay off over time, though that time frame will vary based on niche, area, and competition.
Generally speaking, most SEO specialists will give 4-6 months as to how long it takes to start seeing early results. Most of the time that’s fairly accurate as a rule of thumb, but SEO is a slow burn that becomes an explosion. The slow early results tend to happen in this time frame, but the work already done will continue to pay off months in the future. If you stay with it, then continued SEO efforts will eventually multiply. That’s especially true a year after starting SEO efforts and many companies see a second surge at 18 or 24 months, at which point steady growth based on effort is the norm.
You MUST Commit Long Term
Too many business owners want to make minimum investment for a minimum amount of time. That might have worked in some cases 15 years ago, but those days are gone. Far too many companies badly underestimate how much time, budget, and effort it takes to see the full-scale success that comes with a good SEO campaign. Often times even when companies start out with a healthy budget and taking the right steps, they cancel far too early because they don’t see results early enough.
SEO isn’t something you start at the beginning of a quarter and judge at the end of it. You don’t see major results at 3 months no matter how good the effort, or the budget. At a minimum budget 6 months and honestly, best results come from those willing to put in at least a full year – at which point you should definitely be seeing multiple signs that the campaign is working and delivering rankings, traffic, and customers to your site.
SEO builds on itself, and you won’t see the same results doing it piece-mail as you will with a concentrated and extended optimization campaign.
Your #1 Houston SEO Specialists
We know how to make a long-term SEO plan that will work for you and your business. No more losing to the competition, no more giving up the fight to bigger competitors at the start. There are opportunities out there that skilled SEO specialists can take advantage of and we are here to do that on behalf of your company against your competition.
These are plans that are built around bottom line results: not large lists of non-money making keywords that look good but don’t deliver. We enact SEO plans that get you rankings, but rankings not for the sake of rankings. Rankings which will get you qualified visitors looking for your services, your products, and who become buyers who help your bottom line.