Great question! But there is no one answer. Refer back to our post about what search engines are trying to determine when they rank search results – SEO is all about relevancy. Google, Bing and Yahoo want the most relevant search results for a given keyword to appear first. Establishing relevancy is a product of valuable content and time.
As it is in most aspects of life and business, becoming a credible source of information doesn’t happen overnight. You must consistently demonstrate an ability to differentiate yourself from your peers by proving to be more adept in your field. Internet marketing is no different.
In the most general terms, seeing significant results from a targeted SEO strategy can take anywhere from three to six months. Expecting to see results any sooner is foolhardy.
No business owner likes to hear that they’ll have to invest in a service for three to six months or more before seeing a return. But those that commit a budget, establish quantifiable goals, and monitor results will be rewarded. While those that jump ship will be heard saying that SEO didn’t work for their business.
Establish quantifiable, tangible goals for digital marketing from the onset that reflect an increase in business (i.e., sell 2000 widgets in one year, sign 50 new customers in six months). Be sure these goals equate to a positive return on investment for your marketing dollars, while at the same time being reasonably achievable. I caution against setting goals that relate just to digital marketing, such as being a result on Google’s front page, because these goals don’t relate back to generating ROI.
Establishing a Timeframe for SEO
There are a number of resources at your disposal to develop a realistic timeframe for which to expect results from SEO.
1. Free SEO Research Tools
Use Google’s Keyword Planner to understand the search volume and competition for your key terms. The ideal scenario is high search volume with low competition, but this is rarely the case today.
Explore the websites of your highest ranking competitors to understand how active they are in their digital marketing. If it appears that their website and other online channels are seldom updated, you can be more optimistic in your timeframe to usurp their rankings.
2. Case studies
There are SEO case studies all over the web for many industries. Use these to understand which tactics produced results and how long they took. Be wary that most of these case studies come from digital agencies showing off their most exceptional results. It’s probably wisest to use these case studies to set more conservative expectations.
3. Anecdotal Evidence From Other Businesses
Contact businesses in your industry that appear to have an active digital marketing strategy and rank well for the keywords that describe your business. While your direct competition may not be willing to share their results, businesses outside your service area or niche might.
Results from SEO vary wildly, but they all take consistency in their strategy over an extended period of time. Do your research beforehand to set realistic expectations for your business.