Estimating SEO effects is a difficult task and involves significant risk of error. These results are influenced by many factors, often independent of the SEO agency and only an experienced specialist is able to estimate how quickly a given SEO strategy can result in measurable results. When will SEO actions bring effects? This question, which is asked by virtually every customer, cannot be left unanswered. Therefore, we will analyze what factors may influence the achievement of SEO effects. And, what is more important, when we can expect the first results.
Planning an SEO strategy should always be preceded by a thorough analysis of the current state of the website and other conditions that may affect the achievement of the objectives. It is important to be aware that creating estimates in ideal conditions may turn out to be detached from reality. Especially, if we do not take some variables independent of our actions, whether on site or off-site, into account. It is also worth being realistic about our own assumptions, which may not be as simple to implement as we expected. Let us analyze the factors that may affect the estimated effects and the time of their implementation.
Firstly, let us consider what may disturb our estimation in both the positive and negative aspects. For example, when the effects are achieved faster or later than the planned date.
One of the most important, if not the most important factor on which SEO effects depend. Actually, it determines the visibility of our website in search results. It may turn out that today we meet all the requirements of Google, which entitle us to be at the forefront of search engine results. And in a month’s time, the website will lose its position, because the technology in which it is built will no longer be supported by Google. This is, of course, a rather extreme example, but it aims to illustrate the fact that the owner of the most popular search engine in the world may introduce changes that may significantly affect the speed of obtaining results.
The owners of websites offering short-term loans could see the scale of this phenomenon and the effects of Google’s decision. In July 2016, Google banned advertising with Adwords campaign loans for less than 60 days. What was the effect? Many companies, which until then had been living off the traffic provided by Adwords lost the most important source of customers. Moreover, other players have had to take costly steps to adapt the product to the new requirements.
The effects we will achieve and when we will achieve them will be significantly influenced by the actions of competitors. If new websites appear on the market or older ones suddenly increase the scope of SEO activities, then the achievement of our goals may be prolonged. The fight for positions can be really fierce. Moreover, it will be won by those who not only have a better strategy, but also a bigger budget. Estimating results in isolation from what the competition does, and at the same time anticipating its movements, may destroy our efforts and even well-planned actions will prove ineffective if we have not taken the fact that the competitor may grow as much or even faster than we do, into account.
A key element in the estimation of the first SEO effects is to examine seasonal trends and user behavior at a specific time and place. Precisely calculated estimates based on historical data from Google Analytics or other analytical tools, taking the potential of phrases for which we intend to achieve positions generating traffic into account may not work at all. It may happen that what was popular in a given period in previous years will suddenly lose its popularity. As a result, we will not be able to deliver the planned organic traffic.
Let’s give an example. A travel agency offering trips to a specific, popular location has set the goal of achieving an increase in organic traffic in the upcoming holiday season. It is based on the popularity of phrases that are included in the SEO strategy and historical traffic data. However, an armed conflict unexpectedly broke out in a given location or a volcanic eruption occurred, which made it unattractive as a holiday destination. Therefore, although the travel agency achieved the top 3 positions for phrases related to this location, it will not achieve the planned organic traffic as the users simply stopped looking for trips to this location. As you can see, all the effort put into positioning a given group of phrases was destroyed. Moreover, an independent factor defeated it despite the best willingness and commitment.
The quickness of achieving SEO results may also depend on the time of life of the domain. The one that has existed for a long time has already built its history and reputation will achieve better results faster. For this reason, you can see that multi-year domains faster and, one can even risk stating, more easily obtain effects than new domains. It is worth taking this into account when planning the estimation of effects, especially if we are starting activities for a completely new website.
It is probably hard to disagree with the fact that SEO effects are most dependent on SEO activities. It is exactly the task of SEO specialists to prepare such a strategy to help the client achieve its goals. So what factors influence the outcome, which are the direct result of SEO experts’ actions?
I can consider this element to be one of the most important, if not the most important factor influencing the achievement of the assumed effects. How accurately and how quickly we will optimize SEO, both in terms of content and technical issues, will have an impact on the time needed to achieve the set goals. Therefore, I treat this factor as dependent on the agency. Because it is the SEO agency that should ensure that the cooperation with the client starts with a detailed technical and content audit, preparation of precise guidelines for implementation and ensuring that all recommendations are properly implemented.
Certainly, many SEO specialists will now think about the situation when they face a barrier in the form of technological limitations of the customer or the lack of support from the customer’s IT department, which results in the prolonged process of the implementation of changes, and often also in the inability to implement certain solutions. I’ve faced this problem many times myself. Nevertheless, the agency should acquire knowledge about the possibility of implementing technical recommendations from the SEO audit before it presents estimates of the effects.
This is a key factor that allows building the website’s visibility on a growing number of keywords. Since the size of the website also influences the time of achieving the effects, including its extension with new subpages optimized for key phrases in the SEO strategy may accelerate or even enable the achievement of the assumed effects. It is, therefore, the task of the SEO agency to plan the content activities in such a way that they translate into results.
All SEO activities conducted outside the website, especially link building, have a significant impact on the speed of achieving SEO effects and result from the strategy proposed by the agency. Experienced SEO experts will be able to estimate how the link building strategy will affect the position of keywords. Thus they can estimate the possible time of achieving results.
The last factor I would like to mention is the relationship between the customer’s team and the agency. You need to keep an eye on the work schedule, efficient obtaining of information. You have to pay attention to customer approvals and quickly react to potential problems. All of that is crucial for the achievement of the set goals. If, for example, the results obtained depend on the content published within the domain, but the client delays the publication, it is the task of the agency to contact and support the customer in this process or, if possible, to even do the job. It is also important to inform each other about the activities. Especially if the customer, in addition to SEO activities, carries out other activities, such as Adwords, which may affect our results.
Knowing what factors may influence the achievement of SEO effects, let’s consider how long after starting cooperation they may take to bear fruit. The answer to this question is quite difficult. Usually, when asked by the customer, we can expect them to look for a binding declaration. Of course, if we are experienced specialists, who have so far dealt with SEO work for many websites with different business profiles, different sizes, or (it’s quite crucial) budgets of different sizes, we can make some assumptions.
I will use my own experience in this area to show the results on the example of the implemented projects.
For small websites, up to 20 subpages and local keywords, we can expect the first organic traffic results relatively fast, after 1-2 months. As you can see on the screen below, we started cooperation at the beginning of December 2018. After 1 month we saw the first organic traffic results.
For medium websites up to 100 subpages and both global and local keywords with medium and high competitiveness, significant increase of organic traffic can be seen after 3-4 months of SEO activities. Our cooperation with the client started in December 2018. After 3 months we reached the first goal according to the estimation:
For e-commerce service with up to 100k subpages and medium to high competitiveness of keywords, the significant increase of organic traffic can be noticed after 9-10 months. Which we can see on the screen below:
These few examples show that the time needed to achieve results with organic traffic depends on the type of website, its size or the competitiveness of chosen keywords. Of course, there are many more factors affecting the results. However, I believe that my experience could be reliable. Moreover, it may be the starting point for you to estimate your results on the timeline.
This is probably the most difficult and painful situation for SEO specialists. Despite the effort and full commitment of the team, the goals set with the customer were not achieved. We feel failure and the client’s disappointment. Such situations happen, among others, because of the factors I wrote about in the first part of the article. Then we have a quick and, at the same time, a very thorough review of our actions and any other issues that may have contributed to worse than expected results.
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A good practice is to inform clients in advance of the risk of failure to achieve the goal. The customers will certainly appreciate it. As soon as the first signs appear that the target may be out of reach, corrective measures must be taken. Then, we should establish a path for further action with the customer. It may turn out that in a situation in which the target is threatened, the customer is able to invest more money because its other business goals depend on it. And perhaps it will accept this information calmly, knowing how much good we have done for the service, which has resulted in higher sales or more leads, for example. The worst thing we can do is to keep quiet about the problem. And, tell the customer after the fact when they can no longer influence the situation.
As you can see, estimating the effects of SEO, in the face of so many variables, is a difficult task. Even when you are experienced specialists. However, if you do your work very meticulously, taking a broad perspective and many factors into account, your estimation may turn out to be accurate. Assuming that for small local businesses the SEO effect may be visible even after 1 month. For medium-sized websites with more competitive phrases we can see effects after about 4 months. In the case of large e-commerce websites, it will take about 9 months or more to see the results. All of that may be a certain determinant that will help you assess when the SEO actions bring results.