One of the biggest search engine optimization questions we get across the board (or screen) is, “When will my site get listed in the first position on Google? How long will it take to get my website in the ranking high on Google? How much will it cost to achieve first position on the search engines? Do you guarantee that I will get my website listed first?”
This is a very frustrating concept for business owners to understand. Unfortunately, when it comes to search engine optimization there are no guarantees for organic or paid search.
Wait! Let’s Back Up a Minute and Define SEO and SEM First
SEO is short for search engine optimization. This is the practice of optimizing your website to show up in the organic search engine results. No one can pay any search engine for placement. You can only follow best SEO practices and optimize your website with the right coding and content in order to achieve better rankings.
SEM is short for Search Engine Marketing (also known as pay per click, PPC, Google AdWords). SEM search results are usually labeled ‘Ad’ or appear in a shaded section on the screen. They typically appear towards the top and on the right side of screen SEM is paid advertising. An SEM campaign is set up by creating ad groups with keywords and ads. Once an ad is triggered by a search term and clicked on, there is a cost (a.k.a. Cost Per Click (CPC) to the company that posted the ad. Campaign budgets can come in practically any size.
With both SEO and SEM, there are guidelines on best practices for setting up and optimizing. It’s likened to giving you the toolbox and instructions and hoping you can put it together properly without hurting yourself. These guidelines are meant to point you in the right direction for ranking higher on the serach engines for keywords relevant to your business and website.
So What Are Reasonable Expectations and Results for SEO?
A recent survey conducted by Moz gives us some insights:
Brand New Websites
- For a brand new business with a brand new website in a competitive field, 50% of the SEO professionals surveyed stated that it will take approximately 6-9 months for the site to start ranking significantly.
- For a brand new business with a brand new website in a not-so-competitive field, 94% of the SEO professionals surveyed feel it will take approximately 6 months for the site to start ranking.
NOTE: In any scenario, it typically takes Google 4-9 weeks to index and crawl a website. It is unrealistic to expect any kind of rankings before this occurs.
- For an existing business and website in a competitive landscape with no SEO, 89% of those surveyed believe 3-9 months is the optimum time to achieve significant rankings; 50% feel 3-6 months is reasonable for significant SEO rankings.
- For an existing business and website in a non-competitive landscape with no SEO, a whopping 94% of those SEO experts surveyed felt significant rankings could be achieved within 1-6 months.
NOTE: If an existing website is more than 1-2 months old, chances are high that it has already been crawled and indexed by Google which will give your site a leg up. Also, if the domain name was purchased several years ago, that can help your SEO rankings as well.
What Are Reasonable Expectations for SEM?
If you are willing to throw money into a PPC ad campaign budget and set the maximum cost per clicks high, you will see higher Google AdWord positions sooner. On the flipside, you could also waste a lot of money. Like SEO, SEM campaigns have an algorithm that determines which ads are shown in which position – it’s not as simple as who pays the most per click. SEM campaigns take time to accumulate statistics to base actions on and improve the performance of the campaign.
The bottom line is that nobody can guarantee placement. In fact, Google recommends that you report anyone or business that makes any type of placement guarantees. Any person guaranteeing placement should be reported here.
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