During our meetings with potential clients, we often hear the question, “Does SEO really work?” That is quickly followed by a story of some SEO ninja that’s uncovered the secret recipe to endless free traffic in no time at all.
The truth is, there’s no secret. SEO takes consistent, daily effort over time to achieve lasting, significant results. The good news: it can work for most people with the right expectations, a reputable SEO agency and the desire to invest accordingly.
When SEO Doesn’t Work
There are situations when SEO isn’t the right fit or a few reasons why it may not have worked out. Some of the most common issues we see involve these three things:
1. Lack of Internal Buy-in & Resources
It’s imperative that your entire team understands and commits to the SEO campaign. So often we see the demand generation team initiate an SEO campaign without the web development or content creation teams even being involved. Since SEO can touch all aspects of your marketing efforts, involving other departments early on in the process will help increase efficiency and success.
2. Wrong Expectations
SEO can be an extremely valuable asset to your business but there’s no silver bullet. There’s rarely something an SEO person can do to your website in one week or one month that will dramatically change your organic traffic. Think about SEO similar to branding or building a reputation. It takes consistency, time, and a lot of hard work. Starting with the right timeline in mind will help the entire team commit.
3. No Rank Opportunity
Organic search results used to be an area where nearly anyone could compete regardless of company size. While small companies can still compete, it’s not as simple as it used to be. Search engines favor high authority sites for short and long-tail terms, think Wikipedia and Forbes. There are also some search results, especially medically related, where Google favors highly trusted sources and doesn’t show smaller companies or products. Proper research for your industry and keywords should be performed to verify the actual opportunity to rank.
When SEO Does Work
A proper SEO campaign requires a broad mix of technical SEO, content, link building, PR, analytics, just to name a few. Whether you rely on an agency for help with all of these items or handle some internally, you need all of these pieces to overcome the hurdles many companies face that cause them to lose faith in SEO. When it all comes together, you’ll see the following happen:
1. Keyword Growth
When SEO does work, you should expect to see improvements in both the total number of keywords you rank for and the position in the search results where they rank. Proper on-site optimization, great content, and continually building your authority will help you rank for more terms, rank better for those terms, and drive more traffic and sales.
2. Traffic Growth
When SEO does work, you should expect to see consistent organic traffic growth. It doesn’t mean you’ll never have a down month but as you look at the bigger picture, the trend will tell you if you’re on the right track.
3. Sales Growth
When SEO does work, you should expect to see an increase in leads and sales. Conversions are the ultimate test of success and often the final observable piece of the puzzle. Seeing a growth in rankings and traffic are great indicators but making sure that new traffic converts is what it really comes down to. This means making sure you’re going after the right traffic.
So does SEO work?
Absolutely. Does it work for everyone? Not if the right pieces aren’t in place. To achieve the best results, make sure your team is on board with the right expectations. Get laser focused on long-term success and then buckle up for the journey. Those who put in the consistent, high-quality work, and resources will find success.