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Keeping Your SEO Expectations in Check

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One of the biggest roadblocks to SEO success doesn’t actually have anything to do with SEO…it has to do with your expectations. A lot of site owners still think of SEO as a quick and dirty marketing tactic that will get you to the top of the SERPs and send the organic traffic your way in no time; that there is some formula Google wants you to follow to “win” at SEO. And unfortunately there are plenty of black hat and SEO con-men out there that are happy to support that opinion.

But SEO doesn’t work like that, and it hasn’t for some time. And as Google continually updates the algorithm to be more and more advanced your expectations for what SEO can do for you in a short amount of time need to evolve as well. There are a lot of things that go into a successful SEO campaign and many of them are out of your control. If you expectations are off the mark you’ll never be satisfied with the outcome.

1. Under promise and over deliver.

I do not like it when a client wants to hold me to a hard and fast number for SEO growth. Let’s say your website is getting 3,500 visitors a month and you want to increase that to 5,000 in the next 6 months. If our SEO efforts only get you to 4,916 does that mean your SEO campaign has failed? Of course not! In the world of SEO there are a lot of factors that can’t be controlled and those impact your long term success. How competitive is your niche? What keywords are you banking your business on? What does your SEO history look like? What kind of content do you have at your disposal? No one can guarantee SEO success (even Google says so) just because there are so many factors at play. It’s important that site owners understand that a good SEO provider will do everything in their power to make a lasting impact but there is no way to say for certain what the numbers will be. It’s better to be conservative and be surprised when things turn out better than you expected than hope for the moon and be disappointed every time.

2. Make sure you understand that SEO is long term.

I got an email from a client the other day that wanted to know when they could expect to see an increase in organic traffic, as week by week they’d hadn’t really noticed much progress. Let me point out that we are only in month 2 of link building and their onsite SEO was only just finished up a few weeks ago (they had to rewrite several pages of their site). While I understand the pressure that some marketing managers may be under to deliver results SEO is not one of those things you can rush. Yes, you can push out a ton of new content and use social media to drive more social traffic (which works great on LinkedIn for B2B clients), you can build up a bunch of new links, and optimize the site but you can’t force the search engines to speed up their end of the game.

SEO is something that site owners and marketing managers need to understand is a forever process. Once you start link building you can’t ever really stop completely because the competition is always going to be coming after your spot in the SERPs. And if you are just starting your link building efforts know that some of your competitors have been at it for a year…which means you’re late to the game and are stuck playing catch up for a while. Writing and publishing blog content, no matter how great it is, isn’t an instant win either. It takes time to earn a loyal audience and requires a constant and consistent effort on your part. Even when you feel like nothing is working in you favor know that every little bit counts and is building on itself to achieve greater and greater success.

3. Stop worrying so much about ranking reports.

A few months back I got a rather gruff email from another SEO provider wanting to know why I wasted my time and my reader’s time by writing about ranking reports. My response? As soon as clients stop asking me for ranking reports I’ll stop writing about them. Several years ago ranking reports were really only the metric we had to gauge SEO success but now there are much better and more accurate ways to track the progress of your SEO campaign. Yes, I understand that ranking well usually translates to more traffic and so of course rank matters as a business objective. But just because you are ranked #2 that doesn’t mean you’re going to get more business than the site ranked #7, especially in the B2B world. Maybe in the B2C realm when people are looking to make a quick purchase rank translates more directly into sales, but for B2B brands ranking well doesn’t necessarily impact the bottom line. When you are asking someone to commit thousands of dollars to your product/service they aren’t going to go with the top ranked site just because you’re at the top of the SERPs. You have to earn that business in other ways.

At the end of the day you don’t want your expectations for SEO success to get in the way. A lot of little SEO wins can make a big difference even if it doesn’t look like it on the surface, so don’t lose the forest for the trees!

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