Search Engine Optimisation or as it is more commonly known, SEO, is how you optimise your website to be found by search engines. SEO is big business and knowing what to do can result in well… results! However, it is commonly defined as a dark art and asking as SEO professional about how long it takes to rank and how much is going to cost is also shrouded in mystery. SEO is the true definition of “how long is a piece of string” as no one can really tell you how long it is going to take because we are all at the mercy of Google. It will rank you when it is ready to do so. Today we are going to try and be open and honest around SEO and provide and idea of how long it will take, the cost involved and good and bad signals.
The singular truth about Google
No matter how you look at all Googles endeavours there is one single truth about Google, it is a question-and-answer machine. The user puts questions in, and Google provides the answer.
Search: You ask the question, Google gets the answer
Maps: You ask for the directions, Google gets the directions
Google home mini: You ask it to do stuff, Google does it
And so on.
To win at SEO you just need to answer the questions. As SEO professionals our goal is to answer Googles question the best way possible in a hope to achieve the top spot for a given keyword. The question now though is “how much does that cost?”.
Before answering that we need to understand what goes in to SEO. A common phrase in our world is “content is king”. Content can be words, pictures, and videos. The best websites have a seamless mix of all three and they will have a lot of it. Do not be fooled by big brands like Apple. They can have super smooth, almost empty websites because they are ranking purely on brand power alone. You may consider yourself a brand, but not like them. Therefore we must follow the game plan and build content for Google to digest.
Stage 1: Understanding the keywords you need to rank for
This is where your first cost comes in for SEO with keyword research. Keyword research is big business and is not free. Ranking for the wrong keywords and ones which are too hard to obtain can be wasted SEO spend. Knowing what is right for your business is crucial.
Stage 2: Researching how to rank
With your list in hand, you then need to work out who your competitors are for the top 10 positions and why they rank in those positions. You need to look at their content, speed, security, authority, back links, and Google my business performance.
Stage 3: Make it work for your website
Once you have done all the research it then needs to be applied to your website. Adjusting your content and wording to fit. Your web page should not be an exact copy of the top 10, more a homage. If what they are saying does not fit your business model, then don’t use it. Take what they do, make it better and add more about you.
Stage 4: Check performance
Using SEO tools such as SEMrush, Screaming Frog and Uber Suggest but to name a few, you carry out a page audit. This is to ensure everything meets the technical SEO aspects and to check there is nothing you have missed.
With all the i’s dotted and the T’s crossed the page is now ready to rank.
So how much does it cost to get a page ranking on Google?
If we say the page needs a good amount of work this will take between 3-5 hours. Our current rate is £40 Per Hour (as of Jan 1st 2020) and could cost between £120-£200.
This may seem like a lot for one page to be edited, bearing in mind though this is a one off and in the most extreme case. The average website we work on takes around 2-3 hours per page and will require 1 hour of updates across the year. When we apply SEO updates the results it bring generally out weigh the spend.
How long till I see results?
Now this is where the real question comes in to play. I would love to say 2-3 weeks or even months, but the truth is no one knows. Probably not even most of Google. Googles ranking factors are their own close guarded secret that are carried out by AI and only through trial, error and titbits from Google do we know what needs to be done. The reason is because of exploitation. Once an exploit has been discovered then everyone jumps on it and in turn weights the system and all the hard work you put in can be undone by people who do not deserve that top spot. Google is very quick to react and balance these issues out, but it does not stop it from having a devastating effect. This is why AI are used as they can adjust the system accordingly without being bias.
One of our keywords is “property photography Bournemouth”
This is an important keyword to us. It is not a hard one to rank for and has a low competition score but for us it is what we want to rank for. It has significance to the service we offer and the location we are in. From being 57th we are now 6th and this has taken roughly 3 months. Prime keywords can take longer and, in your industry may be something you never rank for.
SEO is long winded and making changes can result in a big decrease before you see an increase. You should always be trying to improve the user experience. Using Google analytics to see bounce and exit rates to reduce the percentage and increase site duration. Updating Google my business regularly. Adding new content to your site regularly, at least once a month. These are all the right things to do that will see long term gains.
Here we can see our client RP Plumbing and Heating LTD from the point we took over (BLACK ARROW) there was an instant drop. This is where Google is trying to access what we are doing. Now on board you can watch as Google starts steam rolling us forward, smashing the previous highest keyword level.
With investment comes reward.
With everything there is a right way, and a wrong way and SEO is no different. The main way to do wrong is by cheating the system. Do not buy back links. It works! But when Google eventually catches up, they will penalise you hard! The other way is by choosing style over substance. From the beginning we have said content is king and choosing flashy animations and design ques over what Google wants, which is content, does not win favors.
One of our previous clients decided to choose style over substance and had their website redesigned by a designer and not a website specialist. Ripping away all the content we had previously installed on their site and carrying out poor technical SEO their website is now crashing, hard. We are in talks to try and fix this, but it will be years to repair. In less than 1 month they have lost over 60 keywords including some they ranked exceptionally well for and declining daily.
We have not mentioned this to attack the other company hence why no names have been mentioned, but as a very real example of how SEO doesn't mess around.
Hopefully, this has given you an insight into what goes into SEO, the cost involved and how long to expect for results. If you would like to start your SEO journey, begin with a free SEO report.