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Have you ever signed up with an SEO agency that painted this amazing picture of SEO, only for you to feel hung out to dry by month 6 with nothing to show for the campaign? This happens a lot and I hear it all the time from my clients. They sign up for a 6 month contract with some SEO agency that is more than happy to take their money without making sure they fully understand what to expect. I may be the worst salesperson of all time by showing this graph to my clients, but I want to make sure they know exactly what their investment vs ROI is going to look like and that SEO is a long-term investment. I created this graph to help visualize the average SEO campaign.

What’s the graph all about?

The SEO Trend Curve, as pictured above, is a visual representation of what to expect from an SEO campaign when it comes to your investment vs ROI. The graph is a conservative look over an 18 month period of an SEO campaign. The red line indicates your investment into your SEO campaign. The blue line represents your return on investment. This is a graph that not many people will actually show you when trying to sell SEO to you because it does look a little intimidating and they don’t want to scare off a potential client. The graph is broken down into 4 phases; Honeymoon, The Slog, Gaining Momentum, and finally Equilibrium. Let’s break down each phase so you know exactly what to expect.

SEO Trend Curve Phase 1: The Honeymoon

The honeymoon phase is the first few months of an SEO campaign. Everything is new and exciting. This phase contains the structure and content optimization of your website. Structure optimization includes things like ensuring Google Analytics and Google Search Console are integrated into your site, installing any necessary tools like Yoast SEO for WordPress sites, and ensuring the server your website is on has enough resources to load your website quickly. The content optimization includes making sure headers are being used properly, ensuring images contain alt and title tags, keywords are being distributed and used properly, and much more. During the honeymoon phase, everything is new and exciting. Once all of the major changes have been made, we can access Google Search Console and have Google re-crawl the website to update the indexed version of your pages with the new content. This allows us to see result relatively quickly, usually within 2-7 days. We see the huge boosts in rankings and all seems good.

SEO Trend Curve Phase 2: The Slog

The Slog begins around month 3 of an SEO campaign. This is where things start to get ugly for clients that were given unrealistic or no expectations. The Slog is a natural part of every SEO campaign. Now that your website is fully optimized, we need to focus on improving and increasing your website’s authority. We do this by getting backlinks, securing guest blog posts, and creating new and fresh content for your website. While we can tell Google when we make changes to our website, we can’t tell Google to crawl other people’s websites, it has to happen organically as Google periodically crawls websites.This is when our results seem to stagnate. At this point in a campaign, it’s not uncommon to have no conversions from the campaign, but it takes time. As you can see in the graph, the investment starts to pull away from the ROI.

Unfortunately the worst of The Slog phase happens right at the end of a 6 month contract. At this point we have what I like to call the “Gap of disappointment”, you have put in a lot of money and have received nothing out of it. You were told you’d be swimming in leads at this point and you’re far from that, so you don’t renew your contract. Without knowing why this happens and not being properly educated on the trend of SEO other than the excuse “SEO takes time”, you get a sour taste for it and/or the agency that did the work.

SEO Trend Curve Phase 3: Gaining Momentum

Once we push through The Slog phase, we make it to the Gaining Momentum phase which happens around the 7 month mark. This is where things start to pick back up again and we can see some positive movement in our rankings. At this point, Google has now crawled the sites with backlinks and is connecting the dots, boosting your authority. As your authority starts to climb, your rankings also start to climb. A higher authority also means that it will be easier to rank brand new content. We also start to see some/more conversions coming in with the increase in rankings. The “Gap of Disappointment” also begins to close up. Things are looking much better now.

SEO Trend Curve Phase 4: Equilibrium

Equilibrium happens around month 12 of a campaign. This is what we’ve been waiting for, when the SEO starts to pay for itself and eventually starts making a profit. It was a long road to get here but it’s all worth it now as your website is outranking your competitors and you are getting a constant stream of leads. Now you can afford to put more into the SEO to rank for new keywords and expand your reach within search engines.

In Conclusion

Like I said in the beginning, SEO is a long-term investment, but a necessary one in order to grow your business. You need to be aware of just what to expect during an SEO campaign and be ready to accept that you may not get conversions right away. I’d rather my clients fully understand this and potentially not sign up for SEO services than to not bring it up at all and have them disappointed when it doesn’t seem to be working.

SEO accounts for 50% of all traffic to a website on average, meaning it’s the biggest and most powerful digital marketing strategy you can invest in. Don’t let the graph scare you out of SEO, it’s meant to show you that, while it takes time for SEO to work, once it does start to work it’s the best digital marketing strategy out there. If you need SEO, check out our SEO Services page to learn more about what we do and to view our pricing.