If you’re ever told by someone that positive results from SEO will be instantaneous, or that you’ll see improvements within one working week, alarm bells should start ringing.

SEO is unlike many other marketing strands in that it is a slow burn process and results can be much more fruitful in the long term. Rather than a slapdash, full-speed agenda that an ad campaign may have, we always try to map out where a client should see their site in 3, 6 and 12 months from now.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither can a dominant site looking to occupy its niche. Going full speed on an SEO campaign isn’t the right approach, and in this short post, I want to highlight the keys as to why SEO is a long-term investment and what you need to know about the process.

Key 1: There are no next day improvements

Anytime we work with a new client we always carry out a full technical audit before even thinking about their continued SEO strategy. Why do we do this?

Because we want the client site to be in as healthy a position as possible in the eyes of search engines. Think of it as a check-up with a GP or taking a car for an MOT. We want to know what small issues are hiding underneath that need to be looked into before a website can be deemed roadworthy.

Simple indexation issues and speed issues can rightly be improved overnight, but the benefit won’t be the same. There has to be breathing room to allow search engines to understand a site again and see how it has improved.

Key 2: There is no consistency in short term plans

If you’re ever approached with a 3-6 month plan, you’re not being provided with long achievable long-term goals. A site needs time to settle like a house on good foundations; you need something you can build from. First and foremost, we always monitor how technical onsite SEO is helping (or hindering) client sites.

A reactionary approach means we can tailor our strategy for the client’s benefit. It’s much better to be told after a few months what newly discovered target areas are sitting there ready to rank highly, and knowing what the wider keyword pool currently is, rather than sticking to just a handful of keywords that could be extremely stubborn to create a movement around.

Key 3:  There has to be reinforcement

Any SEO work on a site needs to be complementary. You would never improve the content on a section that isn’t in the campaign just because it’s easier than working on a target area.

Every little action needs reinforcement later on. Improving metadata leads to improving content which leads to improve a page’s ranking signals. Movements must always help the process move along.

Key 4: There has to be a discovery

It is always important to know that even right now if you have a site you believe is fulfilling its niche quite well, there is always a wider audience out there.

Investing in a long SEO campaign helps us explore what a site could (and should) be ranking for, as well as knowing that the audience is always widening.

Just look at this trend for Bluetooth speakers over the last five years. While we do see spikes in the lead up to Christmas every year, we know that as more people use smart devices, there’s a higher level of interest in the product.

Each year more people are discovering these products, and in turn, competition is increasing as the keyword pool widens.

(On an unrelated note, you’ll see the trend didn’t peak higher over Xmas 2018, an indication of the shift towards smart speakers this past year)

Key 5: There will always be changes

SEO campaigns can’t be turned off and on like a tap. As search engines evolve, so too must sites. Even for companies with a static front page, if there’s no one to ensure that any page is staying up to standard and adhering to every shift that comes from algorithmic updates, it will be left behind, and rankings will suffer as a consequence.  

Consider how big sites like Facebook, Amazon and Twitter subtlety change over time and you’ll see even the biggest names have to keep up with the times.

Something as simple as keeping a business’ WordPress site up to date helps keep it friendly, quick and more secure from attack.

Final Key: There is no other investment like SEO

A quick ad campaign, be it print, social or PPC can have a great effect on time-sensitive events and securing brand awareness when it is needed, but I believe you can’t get a clearer indication of ROI than a long-running SEO campaign.

Working with clients in the way we do, we always help paint a clear picture of where we want a site to be in the future, how we want to optimise for conversions and how we’ll get there.

Always make sure anyone you work with on an SEO campaign can highlight that it is an investment and how it will benefit any site.

Author Grant Ruxton

I increase sales, traffic and brand engagement using digital marketing.

More posts by Grant Ruxton