All too often business owners assume that after two months of working with an SEO team, their business will be on the first page of Google for all their desired keywords, and remain there for the long haul, allowing them to discontinue their SEO efforts. Sadly, this is rarely the case. SEO takes time: time to boost your rankings and time to maintain them. Though years ago, sneaky, spammy quick fixes could get you ranking in no time, Google is cracking down on black hat SEO tactics more and more with each algorithm update. Now the only to improve and maintain your rankings is to continually produce content that your customer’s value and provide them with an excellent experience. Think like the tortoise, not the hare.
The first step in SEO success is managing your expectations. If you truly believe that you will be on the first page for a term that you were not previously ranking for at all in a matter of weeks, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. With a credible SEO company, you should expect to see gains within the first two months, but these gains often don’t equate to multiple first page rankings. There is a great deal of set-up work that must be completed to build a solid foundation for successful search engine marketing campaigns, particularly if you were previously working with a company with less than squeaky clean tactics. Some of these items may include:
Disavowing poor quality links built to your site:
Whether you have unknowingly worked with a black hat SEO company in the past or sites that Google sees as poor quality have taken it upon themselves to link to you, there is a good chance that you will have a handful of bad inbound links. Thus, a link analysis must be completed and negative links removed.
(Re)Writing title tags and meta descriptions:
Black hat SEO companies have a habit of stuffing keywords in title tags and meta descriptions, providing almost no value to search engine users, decreasing the chances that they’ll click on your search results. If you haven’t worked with an SEO company at all, chances are these pieces will need to be written in general.
Improving website cross linking:
Google has changed their guidelines for cross linking. Whereas the rule of thumb used to be to link each key phrase, now they do not like to see too many links with exact match anchor text. Thus, with many of our clients we have had to take the time to reassess their cross linking and change the anchor text.
Speed Testing your website and potentially improving site speed:
Though often not seen as a part of SEO, the speed at which your website pages load is a factor in user satisfaction, one of the major items that Google considers when determining rankings.
Adding SCHEMA or Highlighting Data in Google Webmaster Tools:
These pieces allow you to give Google additional details about your content than title tags and meta descriptions can provide and improve your appearance in search results.
Though creating quality content for your website will lead to improved rankings, you will not see your desired increases without first completing the steps above as necessary. Google will still penalize a site with hundreds of poor quality inbound links, even if it is full of informative and engaging content.
Once the above steps have been completed, you will have a good base to begin your ongoing content creation efforts. The optimal word begin ongoing! Should you decide that your marketing budget is better spent in other areas and cut off your SEO efforts, you will see your rankings drop, and quite significantly if your site is not extremely robust. Search Engine Marketing is not like holiday promotions; it doesn’t come around once a year and then go dormant. Continual effort is needed to maintain the rankings you’ve worked so hard to obtain, especially considering the fact that your competition will not halt their SEM campaigns. You may receive the necessary training and take on this task internally, but if you cut it out entirely, all of this investment and effort will have been wasted in the long run.