Long-term SEO Benefits

Why SEO Must Be Long-Term

I LOVE SEO.

Let me put it another way: It’s my job to help your company love SEO as much as I do.

Companies that HATE SEO (and it’s okay if you’re one of them) usually just have a bad relationship with a certain search engine. And, like any relationship, a wise outside voice can help put things back on track.

And this is a relationship worth saving. Search has the power to connect your company with the people who need your product or service when they need it the most. SEO can position your site to show up at the various stages of the customer buying cycle and make your company grow.

All relationships have a give and take dynamic. The person in charge of your SEO is first a giver, not a taker. If you do it right, Google may reciprocate.

Synonyms for "long-term" from Thesaurus.com, one of my favorite SEO tools.

Think for a moment about these beautiful synonyms for “long-term” from Thesaurus.com, one of my favorite SEO tools.

Why not Short-Term?

If you consider the give and take between website content and a search engine to be a relationship; is that relationship likely to be short-term or long-term?

Not many people ask me about doing short-term SEO strategies anymore. When links and exact match domains had more weight in search algorithms, it was more tempting than now. People did short-term. It worked. They accepted the consequences.

More than ever, I preach SEO to clients as a long-term endeavor. I get less push-back than you’d think when I warn that SEO is long-term, expensive and may bore them. They likely don’t see quick and easy tactics working when they look in search results.

Like a certain other kind of “relationship” that requires one party to pay their way through, PPC gets you results much faster.

You just have to pay for it.

That’s a horrible metaphor. And obviously PPC is a valid, legal way of marketing your business that has its place. Don’t expect it to provide you with the long-term satisfaction that organic search results would.

Make sense? A healthy long-term relationship is slower. You have responsibilities. But it’s much more rewarding.

ROI from Long-Term SEO

“The result of long-term relationships is better and better quality, and lower and lower costs.” - W. Edwards Deming

Reaching your customer online depends on your company’s relationship with the leading search engine. Google has made SEO more expensive by preferring the highest quality content (no more good content) in search results and counting only the best sources of links. If you’re scaling your SEO, you must have budget to spend. And you must be spending it effectively.

When a search bot crawls your website, is the information it needs accessible and formatted properly? The content needs to be at least a few notches better than competitors, right? And if you’re content is so great, Google will find links pointing to it right?

But your relationship with search engines isn’t personal, either. They have to determine your value by how much other people value your materials. They go off your reputation for quality. If that reputation isn’t there, why should a search engine point anyone your way?

There’s a yin and yang to climbing in SERPs. No one thing defines the relationship. Instead, over time, your website establishes itself as something of unique value – or fails to do this on a consistent basis and remains obscure.

A positive relationship with search engines like Google is a powerful thing. Your site’s content gives rich resources to their searchers, and in return, Google rewards you with visitors. This give and take relationship requires patience, cultivation, and time.

You’re making cognac here, not hooch.

Creating Valuable Content that Stands the Test of Time is HUGELY Profitable

Playing the long-game with SEO isn’t just smart but can also be incredibly profitable. Neil Patel, a major thought-leader in the world of SEO, points out that content marketing “…costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads.”

A simple definition of content marketing: the process of creating valuable content that ranks well in search engines and inspires readers to share in social. Once you start publishing content like this, you can then try to push these visitors down the sales funnel with other types of content. If a relationship is give and take, then the content part is where you give the most.

The investment required to create this content is going to be a one-time cost. But over the course of weeks, months and years, this content will be accessed by Googlebot, evaluated and scored. If Google thinks the content answers the reader’s question better than that of competitors, it’ll send more visitors.

Here’s a quick example of how Leverable helped a multi-location automotive client develop this kind of content.

  • We interviewed the client on-site to learn about their products, customers and goals.
  • Researched keywords and grouped them by products to match customer types.
  • Collaborated with the client to develop titles and outlines for blog posts.
  • Once approved, we brought in an expert writer (someone with hands-on experience in the industry) to write drafts and revise based on client feedback.
  • We ended up with a nice group of quality expert posts addressing problems that potential customers have. We started publishing every 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Performed other aspects of the SEO campaign like building authority, technical SEO and offsite promotion – all important components.
  • After a year, organic visitors were up more than 5-fold. The new posts were now responsible for most of their organic site visits by far. The posts were getting email signups, comments and social engagement. The client now has a big piece of themselves working online for them.
Long-term SEO example from an automotive industry client

Long-term SEO example from automotive industry client

The whole experience drove home how patiently doing the right thing pays off over time.

Google Wants SEO to Be Long-Term

If you’ve made it this far, I’ll bet you’re starting to like the idea of long-term SEO.

But for this section, I’d like you to do something. (Hey, I told you relationships are give-and-take, right?).

Go to Google and search for something you’re passionate about. It can be anything; sports, cars, fashion – whatever you’re into. Then, take a close look at the results that appear near the top (beneath that nasty advertised content).

You’ll notice that Google prefers reputable brands and websites that have stood the test of time. That’s because Google has a long track-record with these reputable sites. They feel relatively confident that the information their users find on these sites is reliable, current and interesting.

Remember, Google’s goal is to answer your questions as quickly and efficiently as possible. Reputation is proof that your site can deliver on the needs of their users.

When is the last time you saw an advertorial microsite appear in the SERPs?

Brands don’t risk it all on short-term tactics.

Bumps in the Ongoing Relationship

Any healthy relationship has its ups and downs. Sometimes you’re at fault; sometimes the other party. You move on.

A search engine penalty is the relationship equivalent of a night on the couch. Trying to figure out what you did wrong to grieve the other party can be intensely stressful since communication is limited. This clear, direct feedback highlights the things you need to work on. Having a “get your act together” moment isn’t always a bad thing. It’s often the wake-up call that allows you to adapt and prosper in the future. In some rare cases, the relationship must end.

A site penalized by Google

A site dumped (penalized) by Google (Panda)

One of the fastest ways to end up on the couch is by publishing content written for search engines. What? I know. You thought that’s what you were supposed to do, right? It was…

In 2001.

Content that is poorly written, factually inaccurate, or repeats keywords gets filtered out. New websites make rookie mistakes when it comes to SEO. Modern search algorithms ensure that they pay the price. “SEO copy” they used to call it. Google calls it spam.

Penalties and all the horrible things that go along with short-term search engine relationships waste time and budget if you’re building authority. The best relationships last.

Summary

Consider the value of a well-developed body of content you can build over years for your users. Seminal evergreen posts can surface in search results for decades. The compelling content that you give Google as your part of the relationship takes time. Like aged cheddar, it doesn’t happen overnight. When you read that SEOs need at least four months to a year to see results, you shouldn’t be surprised. Isn’t that about how long it takes for a good human relationship?

Published 10/09/18, Edited 10/29/18.

About Emory Rowland

I'm an Atlanta SEO consultant and founder of Leverable. SEO has been part of my life for over a decade and always will be. I love helping people improve their search performance aka "lift for the good guys" through Leverable. I believe in the empowering capabilities and rewards of effective SEO. Follow me at Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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8 comments

  1. Pingback: SearchCap: Google Ads recording calls, Sitelinks snippets & Google Easter Eggs - Search Engine Land

  2. Great post Emory!

    Here’s a question I get from people who want to get started with SEO: “Ok, it takes time to start seeing results and it costs something to hire you… when will I begin to see things turn around from an ROI stand point?”

    • Emory Rowland October 12, 2018

      Thanks Tom. I find myself using that question to gauge the readiness of prospects. If they seem too anxious or have to have results quickly, I’ll shy away from doing an engagement. I was glad when Google made the “4 months to a year” statement on seeing benefits from SEO. I use that along with how long it’s taken for clients in the past (about the same) to set expectations. Do you typically set expectations for long-term?

      • I assumed most business people knew that SEO means long-term, but just a couple weeks ago I discovered someone who did not seem to grasp the concept, or at least struggled with the ROI question.

        I think most agencies and SEO people do set expectations, but if the results don’t begin hitting expectations around month 5 or 6, it causes clients to doubt the agency.

        That’s what was troubling the person I met with and part of the reason I was there. How do you help them understand that the error of their agency will not happen with you?

        • Emory Rowland October 12, 2018

          I agree 6 months is about the time that uneasiness starts to creep in when things are slow getting started. Even if you show them improved design, speed, content, inbound links, etc. they need to see something needle-moving.

          I’ve found it makes a difference to show clients a map of where we plan to be each month for the first 6 months.

          • Some agencies are geared for the short-term, say 3 months, and then move on to other projects. For a number of reasons they just don’t stick with the client for the long-term. That’s one reason the ROI isn’t there – to your point, it’s gotta be long-term for SEO.

            I know the type of clients that I work best with, so I listen carefully to their issues before saying whether or not I’ll take them on. If I want to work with them, I may show them some relevant case studies to wow them with proof of results.

            If they still balk about ROI I may ask them to go check out some agencies to better gauge what I bring to the table. I’m not afraid of competition, because at the end of the day it’s really about the long-term relationship. I don’t have time for a short-term project, that’s a waste.

            Love that Deming quote.

  3. Hi Emory,

    Good post that you shared with your Blog Audience, SEO is a Long-Term process but peeople never be ready to understand and look to get quick result.

    This article is really nice that share how SEO work with Long-Term.

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