You already know that the question “When will my SEO work?” isn’t the right question. However, you should be able to figure out a general timeline of when your search engine optimization (SEO) will start generating leads or sales. Unfortunately, that answer is a big “It depends,” which can be annoying for companies who have shelled out hard earned cash for SEO. There are simply too many factors playing a role, from the length of your website presence to the degree and quality of the SEO, and don’t forget about link profiles, the quality of the website, or the value of the content. Websites are unique snowflakes, so it’s impossible to give anyone a hard date—and if an SEO agency tries, run for the hills.
The good news is that there are a number of mini goals you can look for in the first few months after initial SEO strategies take place. For example, in the first month your SEO agency is probably deep in R&D. They will probably conduct a website audit and plan an overall strategy with keyword planning. Sometimes R&D can be done swiftly, so you may enjoy website shifts in the first 30 days. Other times a more in depth R&D stage is required, so changes might not happen until after that first month.
At this stage, the technical SEO work starts. This means modifying websites after considering what the audits have revealed. Some websites might need a total overhaul (which can require months of work). Other websites are in pretty good shape from an SEO perspective, so additional SEO actions can take place during this time frame. This may include link building, content creation, and the like. However, bear in mind that if you need a full overhaul, a lot of SEO work will be happening without seeing any tangible results. It’s like training for the big fight: You’re getting in shape, but only your coach can really see the positive changes.
At the 90 day mark and moving through to 120 days, this is when content creation really comes into play. You’ll be writing (or having it written for you) blogs, articles, whitepapers, the FAQ page, product descriptions, about us section, and so on. In an ideal world, this will have started directly post-strategy, but sometimes budgets just don’t allow it. At this point, you may begin to see some ranking improvement by day 120 (but there are no promises). It’s even possible ranks are turning into sales or leads even at this relatively early stage.
In your fourth month, content creation will continue and the technical aspect of your site will be further optimized. Low quality links will get the boot. It’s feasible to see a significant ranking or traffic increase here—but this is nothing compared to what you should expect in a year. However, it’s a safe bet that you can tell your SEO is generating leads/sales. In month five, you might add in social media management to optimize your content and up website traffic.
Finally, you’re at month six. For sites that get 5,000 visitors each month, you might want to sprinkle in conversion rate optimization to maximize traffic. After this benchmark, your main focus will be content creation and promotion. Remember: It takes six months to get to this point, so don’t give up. Slow and steady really does win the SEO race.