Give SEO Time!

I won't touch some SEO projects with a 10-foot pole. Especially when people make bad decisions or set themselves up for failure.

Like last week, when I received a request for proposal from a ticket reselling company. In their RFP, they said they understood that their business was highly competitive for organic search.

Their competitors are pretty firmly entrenched, plus there are hundreds of similar sites. It would take a large commitment for this company to be able to compete with the big boys. And they were willing, and ready, to spend the money necessary to make it happen, or so they claimed.

They would give the SEO firm three months to achieve results. Their exact words: "...have the budget to do that [compete with the big boys” for the first few months to see if it works out."

Mind you, this request for proposal was for a Web site that has a Google PageRank of 0. They had virtually no content on their home page, or any other page. And their main content (the tickets that they represent) exists within a frame.

Know what the worst part is? I guarantee you (wow, an SEO guy making a guarantee?) that someone will send this guy a proposal.

That someone will say all the right things and get some of this company's money. They'll make this person feel warm and fuzzy about the potential and how great things are going to be. Then, three months from now, that company is going to be out of money and pissed.

Then, as often happens, the entire SEO industry takes a collective reputation hit. We all feel the effects of people taking advantage of situations to earn the quick buck, without giving thought to the ethics of what they're doing. That's the one thing I hate about my job.

So, I continue writing au Natural in the hopes that we can bring transparency to the process. To that end, let's talk about the issue of "time."

How Long Does it Take for SEO to Show Results?

The answer is, there is no answer.

If a prospective client asked me to answer this question in less than five minutes, I couldn't. The one exception would be a huge brand whose site just had a few apparent flaws that could send their rankings through the roof with some minor tweaks; that's the only scenario where you can be confident that things can happen quickly. For most Web sites, we have to look at several factors to make this determination. Even then, it's truly an estimate/projection/guess.

We don't know for certain when results will kick in. We don't own the search engines. SEOs are like public relations companies. We can do the work to help your presence, but we don't control the rankings.

For a new Web site trying to compete in one of the most competitive areas of SEO, the answer for "how long" might be two years, or more.

In the case of the ticket site, they were behind the competition before they even launched. Their competitors had already been optimizing their sites for years.

To truly compete, the ticket site will have to commit to SEO, however long it takes. Unless this new site has the "next great widget" that will make their ticket services far superior to the others, then there's little hope of seeing results quickly, certainly not within three months!

Now, for sites trying to compete against local keywords, with a very niche product or service offerings, there's a great chance to see results quickly. Even "quickly" depends upon factors such as domain age, links, and quantity and quality of content. Graphics-heavy Web sites built in frames with virtually no text content have little hope of ranking for anything, ever.

What about companies that have had a Web site for many years, but haven't given any consideration to SEO? These sites probably already have some good content and natural links to their Web site. All they need is some help structuring things correctly for SEO and gaining more valuable links. Even then, without knowing the competitive nature of the other Web sites in the SERPs, it's difficult to project.

Bottom Line

SEO is an investment that will show you returns if you're committed to the process for however long it takes.

There are only 10 "top" positions in the search engines. Chances are, many of those in the top 10 have been doing SEO for a while. To compete with them, you'll have to do it for a while, too.

Results will come...in time.

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About the author

Mark Jackson, President and CEO of Vizion Interactive, a search engine optimization company. Mark joined the interactive marketing fray in early 2000. His journey began with Lycos/Wired Digital and then AOL/Time Warner. After having witnessed the bubble burst and its lingering effects on stability on the job front (learning that working for a "large company" does not guarantee you a position, no matter your job performance), Mark established an interactive marketing agency and has cultivated it into one of the most respected search engine optimization firms in the United States.

Vizion Interactive was founded on the premise that honesty, integrity, and transparency forge the pillars that strong partnerships should be based upon. Vizion Interactive is a full service interactive marketing agency, specializing in search engine optimization, search engine marketing/PPC management, SEO friendly Web design/development, social media marketing, and other leading edge interactive marketing services, including being one of the first 50 beta testers of Google TV.

Mark is a board member of the Dallas/Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing Association (DFWSEM) and a member of the Dallas/Fort Worth Interactive Marketing Association (DFWIMA) and is a regular speaker at the SES and Pubcon conferences.

Mark received a BA in Journalism/Advertising from The University of Texas at Arlington in 1993 and spent several years in traditional marketing (radio, television, and print) prior to venturing into all things "Web."

Read more of Mark Jackson's columns at ClickZ.