Realistic Expectations for a SEO Agency

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It’s important that you have realistic expectations before you employ a digital marketing agency. We would all love if we could make an even bigger impact on your business in a short period. Unfortunately, SEO takes time, and the efforts may take some time to appear in the rankings.

Without realistic expectations, you as the client might feel burned or cheated and we as an agency could feel powerless. It’s crucial that both parties can come to an agreement about what is achievable in the timeframe and within the budget you have available.

Understanding how SEO works

For you as a client to have reasonable expectations, you must have some understanding of how SEO works. Without it, you can only guess as what timeline is acceptable and what results are possible.

SEO can be broken down into two main parts; On-page and off-page. On-page SEO is about the content on your website, what keywords it includes and how it is formatted for the search engines crawlers.

Off-page is more complicated and is what most SEO agencies enjoy the most. We will build links from other websites back to yours. Google and other search engines use these links as votes of confidence to decide which pages will rank in their results pages.

However, there are always going to be people that attempt to cheat the system. Google has a sophisticated algorithm that tries to prevent the from gaming the results. Part of this scheme is a patent which allows them to delay any benefit from your SEO efforts.

What this means to you is that SEO takes time. You might build links one month and not see the benefit from them until months later. This time delay requires a level of trust and belief from you as a client.

Competition and your position

As with any ranking system, the level of competition will have a great impact on how easy it is for you to improve. Similarly, if your goal is to rank in the top three results, where you’re ranked now will have an enormous impact on the time it takes to get there.

If your industry has large competitors who have existed for decades, it’s likely that your SEO competition will be challenging. On the other hand, small local businesses in less competitive industries might find that their SEO is relatively easy.

Your expectations of results need to reflect the SEO landscape. We’ll be able to discuss this with you and decide together how best to tackle the problem and what results are achievable.

How much time can you contribute?

It’s possible that some agencies will take full control of your website. However, many will require that you are responsible for publishing blog content. They will handle marketing this content and perfect your on-page SEO.

This time that you and your team can contribute to your marketing efforts will dictate your expectations. If you’re willing to do whatever it takes then far more can be done. But if you can only commit one hour per week then you need to either pay your agency to handle it or give them more time.

What is your budget?

SEO is a relatively resource-intensive service. It’s expensive for an agency to run their campaigns and the budget that you give us will influence the amount of work that can be done.

Although we will try to work with all budget levels, the bigger the budget, the greater the results will be. For an agency to be able to commit to using all the tools at their disposable, they need the capital to purchase them and pay their staff to use them.

Timelines and deadlines

One decision you’ll have to make before signing on the dotted line is for how long you’re willing to commit to an SEO strategy. If you can say up front that you’re ready to sign on for multiple months, this can help accelerate results.

Similarly, you might have an expectation for when you want to see results from your investment in SEO. This expectation is, of course, entirely reasonable. We want to ensure that you can get what you expect by the time that you expect it.

Before signing any contract, it would be wise to talk with the staff handling your SEO and discuss timelines.


The most important part of forming realistic expectations is to communicate openly with the agency. Don’t be afraid to ask us questions or to be frank about your expectations.

The better understanding we have of your expectations, the more accurately we can give you a timeline and budget requirement. Communication is the only way to ensure that both of us are happy with the agreement and can work together to grow your business.

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