The best results from marketing efforts tend to come when time, effort and a considerable amount of thought have been put into a project. Following that, the project will usually need to be monitored, analysed and adapted to ensure that it stays effective and profitable. This particularly applies when investing in Search Engine Optimisation. Like any other investment, SEO should be a well thought-out, long-term process. If you’re looking to get your website ranking first on search engine results pages (SERPs), increase your traffic, and bring in those sought-after conversions in the space of a few days – SEO is not your answer.

So why does SEO have to be a long-term, continuous process? We’ll explain how SEO works, why it takes time to see results and the benefits of investing in a long-term SEO campaign.

Understanding how SEO works

For many companies, setting a goal of ranking #1 organically (meaning the unpaid, natural listings) on Google for their offering may seem sensible. However, even if you do manage to rank, it’s important to recognise that ranking first may not necessarily lead to increased conversions. Yes, you may have amazing visibility and click-through rate (CTR) initially, but if your website is not optimised for conversions those users are likely to bounce off your page and into the arms of a competitor. To be truly effective SEO must be all encompassing. Setting up your website to encourage conversions is as important as keyword rankings, and this why SEO must be considered as a continuous process.

What ranking factors do search engines use?

Content is king

The optimal length and detail of the content on your website will depend upon the subject. However, it has generally been found that websites with longer and more comprehensive content rank higher on SERPs. With that said, it is also important to remember that quality beats quantity every time. You need to ensure that the content on your website satisfies user intent and is designed to encourage conversions, otherwise users will leave your page just as quickly as they entered. Bear in mind that a high bounce rate is likely to be detrimental to your rankings and in fact is often symptomatic of weaknesses across your SEO strategy as a whole.

Up-to-date content

Whether it’s in the form of blogs, new product listings or just updating the content you already have on your website, keeping things fresh is essential. In 2010, Google released the Google Freshness Algorithm which, in short, meant that sites with fresh, up-to-date content would be favoured over sites whose content was out-of-date or old. Having a long-term SEO plan in place will mean that the content on your website can be updated and added to, which will keep you in the running for that #1 spot.

A healthy link profile

Your website’s link profile refers to the number and quality of inbound links it has pointing to it. For example, you own a bespoke furniture company and recently kitted out the dining area for a high-profile restaurant. The restaurant then posts a blog on their website which links back to your website. Following this, you might receive a flood of enquiries through your website due to other businesses seeing this blog/your work and clicking the link. The more backlinks that you have from high-authority domains, the better your chances of ranking. Links from low-authority websites such as links in comment sections of forums can be harmful to your rankings. Collecting brand mentions using Google Alerts and monitoring your link profile should be part of your ongoing SEO work. Simply stopping after the first attempt may mean missing out on opportunities and could even have adverse effects on your website.

User Experience (UX) and converting your audience

There are a lot of factors that contribute to UX. However, as the term suggests it relates to the experience users have when they’re on your website, and it can have a huge impact on the level of conversions that your website is generating. Factors to consider include:

  • Page speed – slow load times lead to high bounce rates.
  • Poor website navigation – users should be able to reach the desired content in the fewest clicks and as easily as possible.
  • Design – your website is a visual representation of your business. Dated design can be a big deterrent for users and can push them towards alternatives.
  • Functionality – there’s no point in having a beautiful website and a great offering if users can’t enquire or purchase.
  • Content aligning with search intent – a considered keyword strategy will ensure that when users land on your site, its content satisfies their search intent.

Of course, there are more elements that make up UX, all of which should be considered as part of your on-going SEO strategy. Technical website audits carried out by ExtraMile’s SEM team will identify any issues relating to your UX so that a plan can be put together to bring your website up to scratch. We recommend carrying out a technical audit at least every six months to keep everything running smoothly.

How long does it take for SEO to start working?

Now you’re beginning to see why SEO is not an overnight job. It takes continuous work, analysis and adaptation to help you reach that coveted #1 spot on the SERPs, maintain your ranking, and convert your new audience. So, let’s say that you’ve employed an SEO agency to work their magic and transform your website into one that search engines will love. They’ve made some changes to your website content, written an amazing new blog that targets valuable keywords, and fixed some technical issues… but you’re still lurking on page two of the SERPs. You’d be tempted to think that all this SEO nonsense is a pointless waste of time and money – but bide your time and you’ll see that all good things come to those who wait.

Indexing times

When you complete a search, the results you see are not live. They are pulled from an index of previously crawled pages that show up dependent upon that page’s relevance to your search term. We could write an entire blog solely on crawling and indexing but, not surprisingly, Google explains it really well. When you make new changes to your website, it can take anywhere from an hour to a few weeks for search engines to crawl and re-index your site. It’ll then take a little time for those changes to gain traction and produce results.

So to conclude, there’s no definitive timeline that it takes for SEO efforts to take effect. Effective SEO takes time and is an on-going investment for your company.

If you need assistance with your SEO strategy, the Search Engine Marketing team at ExtraMile will be happy to work with you to create a plan for SEO success – get in touch today to get started on your journey.