How Long Does SEO Take To Work?

In this post, PurpleClick shares a real-life example of what your SEO efforts might look like during the initial months. Find out how a 6-months long campaign would look like, and the results you might expect. (Expect some humour, and then some hard truths).

There is no other question our digital consultants get asked more than “How long will it take me to get ranked #1 for my keywords?”

The answer isn’t so simple. The question is born from an understanding of SEO as an instant fix, when in fact, it is not. The goal of doing SEO is to grow your organic listings. Just like no seed can grow into a tree overnight; expecting your website to rank in #1 in a short time is misguided (no offence).
So what determines your success in SEO?

There are plenty of factors:-

Just as no two businesses are alike, no two business websites start from the same place, even if they’re in the same industry and competing for the same customers.

Boh Eng, then don’t Buay Song!

Many companies underestimate how much time and money it takes to be successful with SEO. Success by any standard rarely comes within the first 3 months, even with a healthy SEO budget. We had clients who get started the right way, but quit after 3 months and say “We just weren’t getting the results we needed to justify the cost.”
We learned, albeit too late, that they went into it with unrealistic expectations. If you can’t budget for 6 to 12 months of SEO, you might be better off putting that budget elsewhere. Paying for just a few months of SEO is, in many cases, no better than throwing your money away.

SEO is a long term marketing technique, and shouldn’t be seen as a way to generate leads quickly. However, if you make the proper investment, and plan on being in it for the long haul, SEO is a marketing tool that can help your business realise one of the best ROIs out there.

For the first 6 months, all SEO campaigns progress the same, by and large.
Let’s walk you through a case study – a 6-months long Local SEO Campaign. In the best interest of our client, we will give a fictitious name: Kuppusamywhosellschinesefurniture (don’t waste time trying to figure out lah! Bo liao can?!).

Month 1 Research & Prep

Website Audit

We received the brief and conducted a website audit.
Rationale: We want to ensure first that your website has SEO potential. Minor website architecture issues can lead to a less than ideal setting for any SEO campaign.
Sample Report:

Keyword Research

Keywords research will be done concurrently with the website audit.
Campaign Objective: Kuppusamywhosellschinesefurniture wanted leads from organic searches.
We suggested that he asked his customers what they would search for in order to find his business on search engines.

Taking those keywords, we did an analysis to see which ones we can optimise to increase his chances of getting leads. As you see below, the keywords are long-tailed, meaning despite a low search volume (how often people search those keywords) but the user’s intention to buy is very high as they know exactly what they want. We just need to feed them.

Sample Keywords Research Report:

Month 2 Technical SEO –  On Page

This is where we’ll make modifications to the website based on site audit results. In some cases the website needs to be overhauled, and this can take months. Other SEO activities such as working on the meta data and revamp of content can be done at the same time while the overhaul is happening.

Tell you first ah, if you find yourself in this overhaul situation, you’ll be doing “SEO” but you still won’t be seeing any significant results, since the changes being made will only start to have an impact once they’re finished. It takes Google up to 4 weeks to index a page.

Month 3 Content Creation – Off Page

Here is where the bulk of our work starts. Blogging, listing creations, editorial articles, expanded product and company information, etc.

Local Copywriting

Having a local copywriter on staff, we would start on this right after the strategy and planning, while the technical overhaul takes place. From here, you might start seeing some improvements in rankings by the end of this month.
If those rankings are translating into leads or sales then even better, but you wouldn’t necessarily expect them yet.
Sample Business Listing:

Month 4 Healthy Links Building

Continued content creation, and healthy backlinks profile starts to take effect (building the profile may include plucking out bad quality links).

By this month you could expect to see a marked increase in rankings, traffic, and lead generation. It would more or less show you where your SEO efforts will land you at the end of the 6-months campaign.
Sample Ranking Trends Report:

Month 5 Social Media Integration

By this month or perhaps earlier in the process you may have started incorporating social media management into your plan to amplify your off page engagement and increase direct traffic to your website.
You do so many cheem things, then don’t tell people? How you expect them to know?

This can lead to a healthy, natural link profile, and of course generate leads in and by itself. You would continue with content creation and perhaps engage in some PR or media outreach. You should be seeing more and more traffic coming in from SEO at this point, and your leads should be growing as a result.
Sample Social Media Post:

Month 6 Campaign Evaluation

Kuppusamywhosellschinesefurniture is a niche business. Obviously they will not get 5,000 visitors per month. I mean..

Got people want to buy Chinese furniture every month meh?
However, activities consistently focused on content creation and promoting that content, or something more creative like a Facebook referral scheme could lead to more traffic. The specific activities can vary greatly depending on what type of company you are and what kind of website you have.

Improve traffic like so and you’d be receiving converts into leads and/or sales.

Sample Ranking Trends Report:

Sample Google Analytics (Phone Call Metrics):

Many SEO firms will tell you that it takes 4 to 6 months to start seeing results. That’s generally accurate, but bear in mind this is when you start seeing results, and SEO results grow over time.
Like that can stop SEO already lah?

Well.. You grow the tree then don’t want the flowers and fruit meh?
Whatever results you’re getting at 6 months cannot be the end of SEO efforts for your website. At some point, you may see your results taper off, or your competitors may start doing SEO and your rankings will go in the pooper. Then it becomes a matter of maintaining results.

This is where a 12-month long strategy would benefit you.

Month 7-12 Re-Strategise and Maintain

We evaluate the campaign, strategise (if needed) and repeat the cycle of the first 6 months.
Sample Analysis Report:

Kuppusamywhosellschineseurniture had engaged us to do SEM for them as well. What did we do then? Take the eggs and spread to other baskets lor!

We found high conversion keywords from the SEM campaign and suggested to run a campaign with those too! We identify which keywords to continue optimising for and which ones we should replace.
We do a little pruning and water the tree everyday and watch it grow.
So where are the results leh?

We are still mid-way through the campaign, but refer back to the table of ranking trends in Month 6, and you’ll see our rankings still quite steady, though we are only 2 months in.


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