One of the most common questions that we come across as an SEO provider is why does SEO take so long? We find this a puzzling question as we adhere to the belief that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well and with an eye on the long game, but we do understand that clients need to see the fastest possible ROI on their online acitivity. So let’s look at why, when it comes to SEO, taking short cuts in an attempt to manipulate faster results is – at best – a false economy and – at worst – a pointless exercise that could end up damaging your web presence.

For a start, any quality SEO campaign will take time to set up and launch. Keyword management is key to getting the right traffic to your site and getting those all important sales. A good SEO company will take time to advise on the right keywords for you using SEO tools and competitor research for your industry. Then any current content needs to be optimised, incorporating these new keywords, and a linkbuilding strategy needs to put in place. A quality SEO campaign that delivers needs to have the right foundations and this takes time – more time than setting up most Pay Per Click campaigns, for instance.

Then, for the search engines to deem your website to be an authority site for your chosen keyterms (and subsequently reward you with high rankings), they will take two primary factors into consideration. Each of these factors has a timely element that has to be considered:

Back links: we all know how important back links are to your SEO, but it’s quality not quantity that really counts, with of course the ultimate aim to have a large quantity of quality links. It may in fact take you, or your SEO provider, longer to achieve 10 high quality links than it does to achieve 1000 poor quality, spamming links. However, even achieving 1000 links of quality over too short a period is often flagged to Google as a potential spamming technique, particularly if you do not have an old domain. Remember, they are looking for authority sites; a new site can become an authority site relatively quickly with the right activities and effort, but not overnight. Slow, steady and quality linkbuilding achieves the best rankings and avoids your site being flagged as a spammer.

Content: in the world wide web, ‘content is king’, and to achieve higher rankings than your main online competitors you have to have more quality content than them. If they have 20 pages of well optimised, relevant content, then – you guessed it – you have to have 30. No, it’s not rocket science but it’s hard work and it takes time! That means NO duplicate content, NO plagiarising, NO static content that isn’t regularly refreshed, updated, added to and increased. If your online competitor sitting above you in the rankings has 200 pages of optimised content, then does that really mean you have to have 300? Well, yes. If a small number of good pages and new links help you to get positive results then a large volume will produce even better results. Again, not rocket science, but not easy to skirt around either. And while you may follow this strategy for 8 months and overtake your competitor in pages, links and rankings, you still can’t sit back and enjoy those results. Not unless you can guarantee that your online competitors hot on your heels are happy to sit back and do nothing too!

SEO is a long-term investment it is true, but the results are also enjoyed over the long term, giving longer-term ROI, which is why it pays to be suspicious of any SEO company promising to achieve high rankings in a matter of weeks (or even days!!). Every SEO provider knows (and all independent research supports) that quality results take time, so if they are claiming to circumvent this process then ask yourself what they are sacrificing to do this – and could it harm your web visibility in the long-term (when they have long gone with your money)?

It’s easy to forget that the search engines themselves are vying for market share of their industry, just like all businesses. Google will only retain their majority market share of search, and others will only have a shot at catching them up, if their results are reliable and relevant to their searchers. Which is why they are so hot on websites being the real thing, not cutting corners and ultimately deserving that page one position.