Managing SEO expectations

Before you can begin to analyze what you’re doing right and wrong in SEO, you first need to know what to expect. Realistic expectations will keep your view of your SEO results realistic as well. SEO is not the only answer for your web site, but it can help improve your site traffic and conversions if you are patient and understand how to leverage your SEO expectations.

SEO timeline
The first expectation that you’ll probably have to rein in is the SEO timeline. Many people implement some aspect of SEO and expect to see results overnight. Obviously, paid results are going to be profitable faster than true SEO efforts, but either way, SEO can still be a long process. It can take anywhere from a few months to more than a year to start seeing solid rankings and targeted traffic. You’ll have to be patient to be rewarded for your SEO efforts. And of course the actual time frame to see the full results will vary according to the keywords you’re using and the state of your web site when you begin your optimization process.

Being hands-on
Whether you’ve hired an SEO consulting firm or are doing it in-house, you have to be involved in your SEO efforts from start to finish — and because the end never arrives that means you have to be involved always. Become a champion of SEO and help the others in your organization to understand and value the results that SEO efforts provide.

This applies even if you’ve hired a company to do the majority of the tasks needed for successful site optimization. You have responsibilities in the client/customer relationship. Your most important responsibility is to communicate what you need from the SEO company and what your goals for site optimization are.

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You also have a responsibility to stay involved in the SEO process, so that you know where your optimization efforts are, and where they are going, what works, and what needs to be changed, tweaked, or abandoned altogether. Your participation in your SEO program will ensure that you know what’s going on, where you are, and what your SEO company is doing for you. This is also the easiest way to hold an SEO company accountable for its responsibilities to you.

With your expectations in line, you can begin to really analyze the success or failure of your SEO efforts. There are several methods for analyzing where you stand, and any of these efforts is valid. What makes one more useful than another is, first, your needs — you should understand exactly what you’re trying to achieve and what indicators you’re looking for to know if you’re actually achieving those goals. And the second reason you might select a specific way of tracking and analyzing your success is your budget.

Some organizations can afford automated tracking tools that tell them basically everything they need to know about the success or failure of their SEO campaigns. Other organizations don’t have that kind of budget. Fortunately, there are some methods of analysis that won’t consume your entire SEO budget.

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