If you are an SEO expert you have probably heard this question at least three to four times a day. After a while you get used to clients calling up and asking you the question: “For how long do I have to do SEO on my site?“, and learn to answer it with a smile. I feel pretty much the same emotions when someone asks me: “What does this word mean?” – which is when I answer them: “Well, can you tell me the context?“ The same practically applies to SEO – if you do not know the website, i.e. before you have done a complete analysis of its current condition – you cannot, and I repeat CANNOT know for how long the optimization is going to start ‘working’.
SEO is a process, it takes time for it to grow once you have planted the seed. Unless you have done it right from the beginning, you cannot expect it to develop normally. It is, therefore, very important that you do everything right and follow the methodology by stages in order to see the results of your SEO campaign.
Various kinds of sites will ask you to perform SEO on them:
- Regular site
- Old site with penalty
With brand new sites you know that Google will notice them in a couple of months, usually in two to three months, and if it sees there is quality content on them – it will stay there and index them regularly. This process can be speeded up a bit if you fetch a link towards it from an older site, which will make the process faster and have it indexed within a day or two (depending on its TrustRank, of course)!
With regular sites which have already seen the light of Google’s algorithms, the average time of getting positive results is going to take at least 2 to 4 months. This is just enough time to produce great new content and throw in a backlink campaign or two to make the traffic fluctuation steadier.
When it comes to old sites with a penalty from Google (which need not necessarily happen after an algorithm update) – they are going to demand a lot of work and a lot of time. The only thing you need to do before you give your estimate on the length of you SEO campaign is to see the site first – you need to know whether it is a small one-page site or a gigantic, mammoth site.
No matter its current condition, there are phases you need to pass if you want to do it right. Some will pass slowly whereas other will fly by really quickly. Nevertheless, this is how a properly done SEO campaign should be done.
MONTH #1: RESEARCH
Just like finding a new love, the first month will be all about discovery. However, unlike a love relationship, an SEO research will demand discovering what is currently rolling and making a plan for future. This plan will require working out phases that the site needs to go through gradually, without skipping any. For example, you probably know that in the world of SEO everything revolves around keywords – so this is the time when you are going to have to do your research and come up with a strategy for your project. Say you want to rank for at least five to ten keywords – you are going to have to do an analysis of the keywords and see how your competition is using them, what are their methods, and see if you can beat them.
This phase also requires making a plan for resolving technical issues (if any) and analyzing content on your website, which is done in months #2 and #3, as well as start opening social media profiles.
MONTH #2: TECHNICAL STUFF
After the research is done right, the next phase is resolving technicalities. If you go according to the plan, you should first check the following things:
- Internal links
- Crawl errors
- Duplicate content
In order to let Google’s crawlers enter your site (and leave it satisfied), you need to make its structure crawlable – adding an XML sitemap would help them immensely, as well as optimizing images for easier indexing, and making sure everything is working properly. Site speed and responsive design are today one of the features that improve user experience and help your site go up the PageRank, so you had better boost them. Internal links and 301 redirects will allow spiders go through your site more often, and removing duplicate content will certainly make that penalty go down.
MONTH #3: CONTENT (IS KING)
It was Bill Gates who said that Content Is King way back in 1996, and this is true for 20 years now. There are several pathways your content needs to take. First of all, content on your website needs to be top quality and updated regularly. This will probably demand hiring a professional to do it for you (because you probably do not have enough time to write by yourself).
Starting a blog which is integrated within the website would be the best choice to give signals to Google that you are working really hard on it. Also, guest blogging (which was recently ruled out as black hat by Google’s Matt Cutts) is not a bad idea, of course, if you do not misuse it and create spam links with zero quality. Infographics have been a real thing but now have lost on popularity, but video content is quite promising these days, so maybe you can think going this way.
Since people love free stuff, you can offer the visitors of your site freely downloadable things in digital format, such as eBooks, PDFs with content that is going to be useful to them. Another big thing is throwing occasional white papers which can make your site authoritative, as well as case studies that can help you prove you are an expert in your area.