According to one Forbes article, even the best SEO strategy can take up to six months to start working. The keyword here is “start.” This often comes as a surprise to business owners who expect immediate results.

In many of these instances, the business owner worked with black hat SEO specialists in the past. These people often take advantage of entrepreneurs by using bots to generate inauthentic website traffic. The traffic footprint this yields provides no actual benefits. The hits aren’t from real people visiting. Even worse, Google penalizes websites when it discovers this.

Another potential reason is that business owners may not fully understand how the search results ranking system works. Frustrated with the long SEO timeline and few results to show for it in the first weeks or months, many business owners abandon it. They then move on to something that yields more immediate results, such as PPC or social media ads. Companies that do this, however, miss out on the gift that keeps on giving with a solid SEO strategy.


Understanding How SEO Works

A common misconception is that optimization operates in a vacuum. As long as specialists are good at what they do and know all the right tactics, the website should rank highly for all their keywords. This notion is false. SEO is a lot more like getting graded on a curve in school. In this instance, Google is the teacher yielding the power of the all-mighty red ink.

Consider the ways this example parallels how search engines grade an SEO strategy. In school, most teachers followed preset guidelines of exactly what determined a letter grade. If you scored 90% on your end-of-semester exam, then you felt fairly certain that this would guarantee you an A grade and a position at the top of the class. This is a reasonable expectation.

When marked on a curve, things become a lot more complicated. Let’s say that everyone else in the class scored between 92% and 100%. You would then fall in the bottom tier, no matter how good your work was. To make things even more complicated, this was not a math test. Instead, it was an essay where the teacher did not fully disclose the marking scheme.

Fortunately, you had that teacher for a few other semesters and picked up some basic understanding of what she was looking for. Still, she changed her exact marking scheme throughout the year. This is roughly what executing an SEO strategy is like.


What Happens on the Backend

SEO is a lot more complicated behind the scenes. It involves competing with not merely a class of other students but millions of websites. These are all jockeying for the first three search result spots as well as the new “zero position” placed above these results.

To determine where each website falls, search engines send out bots to crawl them. These bots then look for specific items on a page. What they discover helps to determine where a website should fall when ranking for specific queries. Here’s some of what bots look for when they crawl a website:

  • Visible text
  • Meta tags
  • Images
  • Alt tags

Because Google dominates the search engine market, the Googlebot is the one that comes up most often when discussing an SEO strategy. The SearchEngine Journal also identifies Yahoo’s Slurp, Ask Jeeves Teoma, and MSN’s MSNBot.

After a spider crawls your website, it sends the information it gathers back to the search engine that deployed it. That search engine ranks websites based on the information provided and re-organizes them on a per-query basis.


Why It Takes So Long

Stiff competition and frequent algorithm updates are the two main reasons that an SEO strategy can take time to bear fruit. In the past, as long as people had access to the right keywords, they could generate a ton of traffic. Algorithms have long evolved past this and now take many more factors than just keywords into consideration.

To account for this, good SEO companies conduct a thorough and free website analysis before making any recommendations. This helps them to get a good assessment of where a website ranks and how far it has left to go. This is also when SEO specialists determine the keywords that the website ranks for most easily. Finally, the marketing agency you work with also considers internal links, code quality, website design and overall appeal to bots.

When you submit your website for an assessment, it takes some time to complete. This tacks on more time to the process but ensures long-term results. To add to this, a strong SEO strategy requires great content. This takes time, effort and tons of research to create.

Link building strategies are also as time-consuming, if not often more so. They, too, require great content, with the exception that most of this gets published on someone else’s website. In addition, marketers must spend a lot of time building relationships with multiple website admins, journalists, bloggers and news agencies.

Finally, the budget you allocate to your SEO strategy also determines the speed. Money can only get a website so far. However, it helps to cover the cost of all the ongoing work that feeds your SEO campaign. This leads to fewer breaks in your strategy and opens up more lucrative opportunities.


Why SEO Results Are Worth Waiting For

Now that you understand how an SEO strategy works and why it takes as long as it does, the big deciding factor is whether it’s worth it. If you’re a business owner, this determines the marketing campaign you adopt. For an SEO reseller, you may need answers to provide to clients who worry that they’re throwing money away on a lost cause.

1. Leveraging Organic Search as a Top Referrer

SearchEngine Journal points out that most businesses get the bulk of their traffic from organic search. It takes businesses some time to get to this point, but even a website without a strong SEO strategy will begin to reap the benefits in a year or two. A more strategic focus can reduce that time to six or so months while increasing the amount of traffic you receive. This also leads to higher conversion rates and more engagement.

2. Better User Experience

Black hat SEO companies often do not consider the user experience. Their focus is on getting you immediate results at any cost necessary. This sounds like a great idea until customers start to complain about spamming and the poor readability of your articles. Google may also penalize you for not having a mobile-friendly website. In contrast, a good SEO strategy prioritizes the user experience to ensure your readers and customers keep coming back.

3. Improving Credibility

If a specific company routinely ranks high in search results, customers start to pay attention. If when they click on that page, they find the exact information they’re looking for, then they may begin to look out for that specific company when they need answers. This allows companies to enjoy the effects of first-ranking status even from the bottom of the first page. One example is when people need information and click on Wikipedia no matter where it ranks.

4. Cost-Effectiveness

The number one reason most proactive businesses invest in SEO is because of the ratio between cost and return. Considering that you continue to receive results on optimization strategies and content created for the lifetime of your website. This makes the return on investment much higher than other options.


Boost Your SEO Strategy

Whether you’re an SEO reseller, rely on SEO services for your own business or both, the knowledge and experience of the company you work with makes all the difference. At Boostability, we believe that your business deserves the absolute best in the industry. Which is why we offer SEO services catered to small businesses that will make the most impact at the most reasonable budget.

In just 10 years, we have grown into the world’s leading white label SEO agency. We serve more than 32,000 active clients around the globe in addition to the third-party clients of our 220 active partners. Learn more about white label SEO and how it can boost your services and revenue!



Koa is the Director of Business Development at Boostability. With a Bachelor Degree in Business Management, Koa has been directly involved in business development and sales for over 16 years. Koa specializes in identifying partnership opportunities and connecting partners to help elevate their SEO strategies, scale their business and SEO initiatives, and deliver effective initiatives that drive growth to their clients. In his spare time, Koa's favorite thing to do is play tennis (usually 4-5 times a week). He regularly competes in USTA tournaments and is a 4.0 rated USTA tennis player.