Many webmasters expect immediate results when they start to focus on search engine optimization (SEO) and they end up being disappointed when the results do not immediately show. It is a mistake to get your expectation so high as you should really be viewing SEO as a long-term investment, but one that can pay great dividends. It has the power to drive tremendous targeted traffic to your site, but it is very unlikely that it will happen overnight.
Unfortunately, there are a number of organizations- mostly service providers trying to make a quick buck- which perpetuate the falsity that SEO can give you overnight results. They are like modern snake oil salesmen- they go from venue to venue trying to sell their quick schemes and once people realize they do not work they either change to a new and “improved” offering or leave altogether. All of the promises for front page rankings are complete gambles and nothing more.
One of the reasons that SEO is a long-term thing is that it is tremendously complex, with an immeasurable number of variables that play a role in producing the results pages for any given search query. There are more than 200 ranking signals and their individual contributions and impacts are changing all the time as Google continuously tries to improve its algorithm. Experimentation and the willingness to adapt and change your SEO strategy are vital for success given this fact.
This is also true because not only is the algorithm constantly changing, but the changes being made are not always publicized. SEO experts, webmasters, and marketers are only left to speculate most of the time. Even with major updates when changes are announced, we don’t get information on the quantitative impact or how exactly they are measuring some of the changes in the code. SEO specialists try to grapple with this information asymmetry by monitoring thousands of websites and their rankings to try to tease out pattern which exists in changes, particularly after a major update is announced. This gives them some insight into what may have been different and what attributes of certain sites may be driving their rankings up or down. This data serves a hypothesis-generating purpose for development of a new strategy based on experimenting with what they think has changed. As you can tell, this process is no overnight happening.
The other very important thing about the SEO puzzle is that your competitors are just like you- they want to stay on top of things and maintain rankings and traffic as well. As a result, they are likely also continually updating and optimizing their strategy to meet the latest things that are important to Google. The front page is a consistent target which will keep it changing forever in competitive niches. This means that you cannot expect to be on top one day to mean you will the next- you need to continue to employ SEO for maintenance otherwise, you risk losing your position. Again, this takes long-term and consistent effort to accomplish.
SEO is really a mix of art and science which takes a lot of persistence and diligence in order to be successful at over the long run. Understanding and expecting the long timelines associated with it are essential to achieving success. A good way to get yourself in the right mindset if you are not there is to tie your metrics to the ultimate goal rather than intermediary signals. For example, tie your goals to sales or customer visits rather than ranking place or hits.
Furthermore, be prepared to invest in your website and the strategy. Time and effort is a must if you want to rank well in most niches. Money may also be important, but can often be replaced with sufficient time and effort if you are short on financial resources. Daily effort and improvement will compound over time to something that is sustainable and rewarding. If you hire professional SEO services, be sure to stay attuned with the team and what they are doing. Make sure that they have a similar long-term vision as you and make sure that your goals for any given project are aligned to get the most out of the relationship.
The final step of the process as with anything in life that takes place over a large amount of time is to be flexible and periodically re-evaluate your strategies. SEO is a moving target and it is crucial to treat it as such. You need to see how you are doing compared to how you expect to do and what has changed in the competitive environment as well as with Google and what you can do to better align your strategy and tactics to the environment. Follow this and be patient and you are bound to achieve success- just keep at it!