When you first dig into SEO, or launch a new site and optimise it, you may feel like you’re doing a lot of work and not seeing much in the way of results.
Don’t give up too soon. Your SEO efforts are building toward a “tipping point” – when your hard work will all pay off.
Here’s why that happens, and when you can expect to see it.
The First Page of Google Isn’t Enough
You’ll often hear that you need to get your site onto the first page of Google in order to see results.
While that’s true, it’s not actually the whole story. The top four or five positions (which typically appear “above the fold” for desktop users) are really where the action is. However, you don’t necessarily need to be #1: as Moz explains:
In fact, [the Catalyst 2013 study] shows that having the most compelling listing in the SERPs could be more important than “ranking #1” (provided you are still ranking within the top five listings, anyway).
– Mission ImposSERPble 2: User Intent and Click Through Rates, Andrew Martineau, Moz
The Catalyst 2013 study (which you can find here) explains that the “top 4 positions receive 83% of page one organic clicks”.
So if you’re hovering in position six or seven for a particular keyword, putting in a little extra work to get up to position four or higher could make all the difference.
It Takes Time to Build Trust (With Users and Search Engines)
With over 100,000 new domains registered on a typical day (Whois Source will give you statistics for today), you need to earn the trust both of users and of search engines, particularly Google.
Even if you have perfectly optimised pages packed full of useful content and answers to customers’ questions, this still takes time.
Good ways to begin are by:
- Creating high-quality, custom content for your site that addresses users’ problems and questions.
- Implementing Google Authorship so Google can connect authors with their content on your site. As well as giving your pages greater prominence in search engine results, this is also one for the future – experts believe “Author Rank” is coming.
- Creating content that is shared and endorsed by your wider industry. This acts as social proof that your site is credible and can earns backlinks which helps with search engine trust.
When You Will Hit Your Tipping Point?
In The Power of Story, Jim Loehr talks about “turning points” and “tipping points”. A tipping point is a powerful form of turning point, when everything changes for your business. They can be accidental – the product of good luck – but you can also deliberately work toward them.
For examples of tipping and turning points in action, read Turning Points, Tipping Points and Manufacturing Serendipity (Aaron Lynn, Asian Efficiency).
Your tipping point could come as the result of a link from a major industry website – getting you on the radar of many more (and potentially bringing in many valuable links).
Or it could come from a slow and steady stream of content, as you gradually gather more and more readers and climb up Google’s rankings.
What’s important to know is that (a) you will get there if you persevere and (b) by tracking your progress, you’ll have a clearer sense of where you are and how far you have left to go.
How to Monitor Your Progress
Even if you’re not getting much traffic or making many sales in the early days, you may well still be doing everything right.
By tracking where you are, you’ll be able to see that you’re heading into the right direction. A great way to do this is by coming up with a definitive list of keywords that you want to target for your website – aim somewhere between 100 and 200.
On a weekly or monthly basis, track where you’re ranked for each of these. If your rankings are going up (even slowly), you’re getting it right! Remember, there's very little traffic outside of the first page of search engines. And most clicks come in the top four positions. That means, if an important keyword moves from position 55 to 45 in one month - the impact on traffic will be negligible but you'll have made really good progress. Especially if you can make gains like these every month.
Need a bit of help with this process?
Step #1: To find keyword ideas and create a definitive list, check out Robbie Richards' best keyword research tools.
Step #2: To check your keyword rankings quickly and easily, watch one (or more!) of our three short videos in 3 Ways to Check Your Google Rankings.
SEO isn’t about overnight success. It’s often a long journey, which means you need to be sure you’re working toward the right goals, monitoring your progress regularly, and staying confident. After all, you don’t want to give up just before your tipping point.