The Importance of Setting Reasonable SEO Expectations

By Ryan Dearth

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” -Albert Einstein

The importance of setting reasonable SEO expectations.

Every SEO professional knows the tactics and strategies required to improve rankings and search visibility for a client’s business or organization.  We have a massive checklist we consistently update based on industry expertise and landscape changes. Following these best practices for SEO sets a good foundation for every successful website, regardless of industry.

So, if there are proven best practices that everyone supposedly follows, why so many misconceptions about how SEO works?

Every day I work with business savvy individuals who were burned by illegitimate marketing companies or who don’t have the expertise or experience to understand the technical aspects of how search engines work.  Often, convincing these clients of the value of SEO is more difficult than getting their site to rank in search results.

Despite countless articles written about SEO’s fantastic ROI, some clients ultimately come to the conclusion that SEO is not worth the investment. This statement couldn’t be farther than the truth. Clients reach this conclusion before they’ve really given their SEO campaign a chance to prove it’s ROI.

Setting reasonable expectations for search campaign results should be the first step in the process. As an integral part of the on-boarding process, it defines goals and leaves little room for interpretation. To help you out, here are a few things your SEO is likely to cover when starting your campaign.

We don’t make the rules, we follow them.

The end goal of any search engine is to provide a good user experience. Search engines have a stake in providing high quality results.  If they don’t return results that satisfy a user’s need, users won’t continue using them to search for answers. To return quality search results, search engines judge websites on a set of parameters that signify a quality website.  A number of factors in their algorithms determine things like your business location, domain age, and engagement. They use these, as well as others, to determine which results will benefit searchers. Just as these factors and their importance are constantly changing, your SEO strategies must constantly change. Every client must acknowledge that the landscape is always changing. Any SEO worth his/her salt is keeping up to date with ‘rules’ search engines use to determine the quality of your site.

Time frame: What do we want? Better rankings. When do we want it? Now!

Wouldn’t it be nice to hire an SEO company and start ranking for all your keywords that same day? Of course it would. But that’s not always reasonable. SEO is a long-term strategy that takes time. Keyword competition, location and industry competition are just a few of the many factors that go into local website rankings. Over time, as your business grows its online presence, you should see a change in your keyword ranking position. Make sure to temper your expectations to reflect this long-term strategy. There will be plenty of small victories along the way that your SEO can highlight. Use these to understand the bigger picture for your campaigns and have some patience.

Our work is never done.

Once the initial goal of ranking your website is successful, our work does not stop.  As SEOs, we know that the dynamic landscape and ever increasing competition will continue to effect rankings. Maintaining those rankings is also the job of your search specialist. Both achieving and maintaining high rankings involve effort. Therefore, increased rankings shouldn’t be the only way to determine campaign success. Maintaining ranking positions in search results is a battle of its own.

As you start working with your next SEO, keep these expectations in mind. Consider the dynamic landscape and intangible efforts of your SEO when realigning the expectations for your future campaigns. And, if you have questions, ask! Any qualified search professional will be able to answer your questions regarding the ranking process.

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