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In short, anyone who tells you that SEO is a quick-fix, that they can get you to the top of Google in a day/week/month for a specific keyword or set of keywords or that they can guarantee you a certain level of traffic for a certain term is lying. Big time. Like, they probably have a forked tongue and cloven hooves kind of lying.
Likewise, if you think that applying a bit of search engine optimisation magic to your website will suddenly have visitors pouring in the second the changes go live, then you will be sorely let down.
- Your SEO consultant, (if they are, indeed, applying some SEO to your site rather than running PPC ads to get you to the "top" for a specific keyword) will assess your site and identify any potential issues. They will look at whether Google is indexing the site properly and thoroughly. They will get an idea of how the information architecture of your site explains the relationship between your pages and the subject of each page. They will look at the structure of the page - does it have one H1, a decent title and meta description, are lists marked as lists, do images have appropriate alt text, etc. They will look at your content and determine if the right keywords are being targeted, used enough and whether the text gives the visitor the information they need and provides a good call to action. They will also look at your backlink profile and determine what type of link building you need.
- Once your SEO consultant has a list of potential issues they'll probably make a long-term plan based on your budget.
- The first steps in any SEO plan are always keyword research and competitor research. Depending on the size of your site and the complexity of your industry this could take a couple of hours or a couple of days.
- Once the research is done, the implementation begins - depending on the issues with the site (recoding things may take a while, tagging can be done fairly quicklY), the first stage is completing any remedial work, in particular fixing anything that may prevent search engines from finding, understanding and indexing your entire site. Then anything which may achieve some "quick wins" will take place, probably reworking meta tags and H1 headings to bring better keyword focus to your pages. Copywriting will get underway, starting with top level pages of your site. Link building may also commence at this point and is an ongoing and continuous process which is punctuated by regular assessment of your analytics stats to see what's working.
Once changes have taken place on your site, your SEO consultant may submit an XML sitemap to Google, acquire a couple of links or use a tool to ping the major search engines to indicate to them that changes have happened and they should come back. That doesn't mean they will visit immediately. Your site may be crawled straight away, or it could take 6 weeks - depending on the last time your site was crawled and how "important" search engines feel your site is in relation to other sites. If your site is low on authority, good search engine optimisation will improve this over time.
Once your site has been crawled - and search engines may only crawl a few pages at a time - changes may take a day to appear in the index or as much as 6-8 weeks. Even then it may take even longer before your listings begin to change - because it's all relative to what your competitors are doing as well. You may change your site entirely, but if your competitors do the same, and get some very high quality backlinks, you may not move in the search results.
The role of your SEO consultant is to improve the quality of your traffic and the number of conversions you receive for your site, but they have no control over what Google does - how regularly the site is crawled, where it ranks or how quickly your rankings improve once SEO work begins.
In fact, your SEO consultant can only tell you which search terms receive the most searches - not how many searches they receive. What they can do, however, is grow the number of relevant keyword phrases sending traffic to the most relevant page of your website which in turn should send more conversions over time.
In short, there is no such thing as an SEO red button that your consultant can push and start sending you stacks of traffic from Google. A good SEO consultant knows how to improve your site for the long term however and will help you grow your business.