Headsmacking Tip #8: Give Your SEO Campaigns Time to Take Effect

Posted by randfish

It’s been a few weeks since I last posted a headsmacker, but this topic has been begging for some exposure. Recently we’ve worked with some fellow SEOs who’ve felt the harsh constraint of overly eager, impatient management. They’re campaigns followed solid tactics, stuck to best practices and even had some smart, creative elements, but after a month of middling results, the execs requested that our friends move on to "higher ROI projects."

To be fair, I’m an executive myself (chief something-or-other, I think), so I understand the need for fast, visible results. However, SEO doesn’t function in this fashion – never has, and I doubt it ever will. Rare, in fact, are the sites who can make sweeping changes, launch viral content, start some link building campaigns and see immediate success. Why? Lots of reasons:

  • The engines need time to re-crawl your site. For a lucky few, this might take only days or a couple weeks, but for many large sites and even for smaller sites that aren’t terrificly high on Google’s "must crawl" list, we’ve seen as much as 3-4 months pass before a site’s pages are fully updated.
  • The engines have to crawl all your link partners, too! If you’ve recently launched some great widgets or viral material or a new content licensing system, it’s going to be a solid wait before you experience the full impact of that work.
  • The algorithms reward patience. Even if the engines start to see those links right away, it might be a few weeks or months before the algorithm rewards the full weight and heft of their existence. Why? Because search engines learned years ago that manipulative link building is often temporary, while high quality links stand the test of time. This issue is particularly true of new domains (or newly moved domains), so be aware that you might have to earn some trust over time before you feel all the positive ranking impacts of links.

    Want a great example? Remember our SEO Expert Quiz? In the first week after launch, we saw hundreds of new links pointing to that page, almost all with the anchor text "SEO Expert" included. But guess what? It took almost 6 weeks before we climbed the rankings ladder to page 1 for the query – SEO Expert (at Google, at least – Yahoo! had us ranking there much faster, though I’ve seen other examples where they lag behind, too).

  • It takes time to attract links. Last, but not least on our list of reasons are the growth of links themselves. If you’ve just started new content, design and promotion strategies to attract links, you not only need time for those campaigns to reach their targets, you need to wait for the links to start rolling in (and then get counted by the engines). This can be a long, tough slog, and understandably, a lot of site owners and SEOs give up without ever getting the full benefit of their work.

Patience can be a challenging quality to find in a manager, particularly in nervous economic times. Just remember – if you’re spending money on PPC, which receives something between 12-20% of the clicks on the SERPs, those organic listings can produce a lot of value. Give your SEOs and your campaigns a minimum of 3-4 months to show positive effects and make sure you watch total search referrals (not just rankings for your pet keyword search phrases). Once you start to see increased traffic from the engines for long tail and related phrases, you know you’re on the right path.

You Must Learn Patience

"Not far. Yoda not far. Patience. Soon you will be with him."

Now if I could just take my own advice and settle my nerves for another 5 days until our big launch

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