Real World SEO Timelines

Real World SEO Timelines

Real World SEO Timelines

Episode 018

This week we take a look at real world SEO timelines and what you should expect to be done by the month 1, month 3, month 6 and 12-month mark.

Lockdown Update – Due to the Sydney COVID lockdowns we’re not recording in the studio this week (or for the next few weeks at least) – instead, we’re recording from our home set-ups. Apologies the sound quality isn’t what it usually is!

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Local Digital 0:04
It’s time for the SEO show where a couple of nerds talk search engine optimization, so you can learn to compete in Google and grow your business online. Now, here’s your host, Michael and Arthur.

Michael 0:23
Hello, hello. Hello. Welcome to the SEO show. We’ve got three hellos because we are Tripoli. As excited as we normally on this week out.

Arthur 0:30
We were very excited. You sound very excited today.

Michael 0:33
I am excited. I am excited. What? Are you touching your mic there? I hear you touching your mic.

Arthur 0:39
Am I touching it? You can see my hands look.

Michael 0:40
Okay. All right. All right, cool. This, and this is the pitfalls of recording from our homes instead of the studio. But you know, what were the welds opening back up at the moment? So we’ll be back in our studio in a time, maybe even next week, right? Yeah, why not? Oh, wow. That’s exciting. Okay. But that’s not what we’re excited about. We are excited about the topic of this week’s episode. Because we’re addressing something that we run into in the real world running SEO campaigns all the time for clients. And that is, you know, the timings of campaigns and what you can expect as the campaign rolls out. And we’re hoping that the stuff we cover off will show, you know what’s realistic with timings because often, you know, people will engage in SEO agency, and they know that it takes time, you know, all SEO people will say it takes time takes time. But then as soon as the clients on board, they kind of want things to move quicker. Yeah,

Arthur 1:33
which is understandable. But it’s, you know, I think it’s all about setting expectations at the very start of the campaign. So the client knows exactly what they’re getting at each stage. And that way, you avoid any kind of awkward conversations later on down the track, you know, it’s very common after the first month or the second month that, you know, clients will start questioning results. And it’s just making it clear that, you know, the campaign is working and just requires a bit more time.

Michael 1:56
Absolutely. And so, that’s it’s a bit of a tricky situation, because if you’re investing time with a bad agency, you know, four months, five months, six months, 12 months, that’s all just thrown down the sink, you know, while you’re sitting there waiting for results. So for that agency, saying it takes time and a good agency saying it takes time, you just want to be sure that you’re working with a good agency to begin with. So we’ve, you know, other episodes have dealt with that. But, you know, let’s all agree that it does take time. So we’re going to talk about, you know, at the end of month one, the end of month three, the end of month, six, the end of month, 12. Realistically, what you should expect to have been done, you know, the deliverables, the reporting the results expected at each of those milestones. Yep. Every SEO agency has their way of doing things. So things will differ a little bit. But realistically, everything we cover up here is a must have, right? Yeah, I

Arthur 2:45
mean, I guess the general onboarding will all be the same, you still have the same deliverables? It’s just timings might be a bit different.

Michael 2:52
Yep. And you were saying you’ve worked at three agencies, right. And they all sort of do much the same as what we’re about to talk about, sir.

Arthur 2:59
Yeah. 100%. I mean, it’s stuff that needs to get done to, I guess, move forward in the SEO campaign.

Michael 3:06
All right. Well, with that being said, let’s ramp up the excitement that we’re getting into it. month one. All right, month one, let’s go. So we’re gonna say by the end of the month, this is what should happen.

Arthur 3:18
Okay, so at the end of the first month, you should expect a couple of deliverables. So I’ll just list go through the list. So the first one would be a technical audit. So basically, just running through the side, making sure there’s no technical issues. So things like you know, crawl errors, you know, for fours, like redirect, redirect loops, things like that. So making sure that the site is technically sound. If there are any issues, putting together a prioritised list of issues, you want to address, basically, the ones that will, I guess, help the campaign the most at the start, and then kind of let it trickle down throughout the duration of the campaign. The next one would be keyword research suggests preliminary keyword research using the tools available to us to figure out what people would be searching to find the client site. And that would feed into the keyword mapping. And then obviously, the content strategy later on down the track. One thing that we like to do is a quick wins audit. So basically, we’ve created this little, I guess, checklist of items that we like to take off at the start of the campaign. And this allows us to basically get, I guess, the fundamentals in place at the very start. So we start seeing results a lot faster, because we found that a traditional onboarding, you know, it takes a while for the deliverables to get sent to the client. So it can take a bit of time for the recommendations to get implemented. So what we like to do is actually just implement the, I guess the basics straight off the bat.

Michael 4:41
Yeah, so an example might be, let’s say, their homepage, we want the most obvious keyword in the title tag, the h1 tag, the body copy, that’s it straightaway, so that, you know, it’s a no brainer, you don’t need to do research. You don’t need to have a client approved at all. You want to get it up there so that you know Google’s finding it And, of course, it depends on what the client has in place to begin with. But yeah, it’s always good to try and get some of those early wins. Of course. Yeah. And if what we’re sorry, sorry to interrupt, what we should probably mention here is, you know, what we’re talking about this whole episode is going to be through the lens of like a general service business, you know, like a business looking to generate leads to their sales team, decent size, decent level of competition, it’s not what we talk about, it’s not going to be applicable for every business, you know, super complex. E commerce sites, e commerce sites that yeah, so yeah, that’s just a little thing. We forgot to cover up, but I wanted to do it. So with that interruption, by the way, let’s get back into it. backlink audit, right? It’s pretty big at the start of the campaign.

Arthur 5:43
Yeah, so just using the tools available again, Ahrefs Search Console and having a look to see if there’s any dodgy shitty links in there. And then if there are disavowed disavow them, sorry, at the start of the campaign,

Michael 5:54
probably also looking at the comp the main competitors, backlinks and just look for opportunities for your link building in the future as well.

Arthur 6:01
Definitely. And then the last thing here is foundation link building. So basically just building out, you know, citations and brand links, which form I guess, the foundation of our link building campaign later on in later months.

Michael 6:13
Yep. So that, that when we say branded stuffs, you know, your business on a directory most of the time, and these don’t really do anything for your SEO authority or anything like that. They’re just links that Google needs to see that, or businesses have that allow you to be a bit more adventurous with your 30 link building in the

Arthur 6:32
future. Adventurous Yeah.

Michael 6:36
The other thing is on the reporting from, you absolutely need a snapshot or benchmark of like, where your site’s at, and maybe where it’s been for the past 12 months, or even longer. So you have a, you know, some sort of benchmark to measure success against, like, how do you know your SEO is working, if you don’t know where you were at the start. So now, in that first month, or even before the campaign really starts, your SEO agency should be making very clear, you know, here’s where you are. And we’re going to be seeking to improve on X, Y, and Zed, for example, you know, your traffic, your rankings, your revenue. What else and then at the end of the month, just you need to have your first monthly report and meeting with the agency. So reporting could be anything could be a PDF, could be Excel, could be a dashboard, Data Studio, and it could have all sorts of different metrics, you know, in the man, you want to see your traffic, your rankings, your conversions. Yeah, but really, what you’re looking for in that first month is how does this agency report? How did how do they communicate? You know, are they explaining things in a way that understand is easy to understand? Are they using like mumbo jumbo and maybe not even reporting or not meeting with you, you know, it’s we’re about stuffing out their relationship in that first month as well, more so than results, because honestly, there, there probably won’t be any results in that first month, right?

Arthur 7:54
Now, of course, it takes time, obviously. And a lot of the first month is just geared towards getting the on site up to scratch. So until that’s up to scratch, you’re not going to see results straightaway.

Michael 8:04
Yep. So really, at this stage, you just want to be happy with the deliverables provided the quality of them, the depth, the breadth of them. And then good communication, good service from the agency. You know, they’re responding to your emails, they’re, you know, once you’re a customer, once you’ve gone past that sales process, are they treating you as well as they were before you were a customer? So that would be month one, let’s move on to the end of month three, you know, your first 90 days with an agency. You can expect a little bit more. So in terms of deliverables, what would we have normally done? And what should someone expect from an agency?

Arthur 8:42
So I guess in terms of deliverables I mentioned before the keyword mapping, so I guess straight after the first month, you’d map out all the keywords to all the landing pages on the site, making sure that you’re targeting the right keywords that there’s no keyword cannibalization, so no two pages competing against one another. And you can also start recommending new pages of the back of the keyword research, you might find this opportunity to create location pages or there might be you know, a gap, like a content gap somewhere so you can start driving more traffic that way. I guess on the topic of content, you would start auditing the content on the site that’s there already. If there is no content, then it’s time to start ordering content. So briefing in a copywriter, you know, getting adequate copy for the pages, and optimising using different tools, like we’d like to use our rental niche. But there’s different tools out there like page optimizer, PR. And yeah, just making sure that it’s optimised it’s targeting the right keywords and making sure you’re giving that page the best chance of ranking as possible. What else

Michael 9:46
technical audit should be you know, the priority stuff that was identified in the tech audit? Usually by the end of month three, the big ticket items definitely should

Arthur 9:55
be done for sure. And then you can start kind of ticking off I guess to me similar priority items. Yeah, as you go along,

Michael 10:04
link building as well, I would say by the end of month three, you would have some authority links, like Yes. And for sure. And you can keep like as business, you know, some agencies will report on the link that they build, others don’t. So, look, you can ask the agency, you know, what length Have you been building? Can you show me them? Just see the answer. And you can also use us I go,

Arthur 10:25
I was gonna say you want transparency when it comes to link building? Because transparency, transparency,

Michael 10:31
if they said, transparency, why would I say we’re inventing words in the SEO?

Arthur 10:36
Transparency gotta hurt. I didn’t say transparency. I’m gonna go find out soon. I’m

Michael 10:40
gonna go back and edit you saying it into it, just to make sure. But you do want transparency, transparency? Transparency, or transparency? Yeah, absolutely. And if the if they don’t want to report on links, if they’re holding back on it, that’s a big warning. But what more what? A warning bell?

Arthur 11:01
Yeah, definitely. Look, I’ve seen I’ve seen agencies that are transparent in link building, and they have some very, very questionable links, sir. It’s important to know what a good link is, as well. So yep, I guess a lot of clients went or that they’ll just see a list of websites. And often they’ll look at the quantity over quality. So there has been situations where, you know, a previous agency might have provided, let’s just say 15 links, but they were all crap. And then they start questioning all what why have you only bought five? So it’s about educating them as well, and letting them know, you know, digital links in the past that you have been building have been rubbish. Yeah. And, you know, the links that we’re building a good, sir. Yeah, making making sure they’re aware of the type of link building that we’re doing.

Michael 11:44
Yep. Yeah. As a client as well, you can keep an eye on that stuff yourself by using a tool like a truss. And just jump in there, see the referring domains report and see how many links have pointed to the site in the last seven days, 30 days, 60 days. Now, this tool doesn’t always get all of the links right away, but it will give you an idea. You know, if you’ve been working with someone, for three months, by the end of that three month period, you should be able to jump in address and see that some links have been built. That’s really, that’s the main things in terms of deliverables, right, in terms of the end of the first three months. Yeah,

Arthur 12:21
I think after that, you start moving on to content and things. But I guess making sure you have all your keywords mapped out making sure that the site’s technically sound and then moving on to authority link building. Yeah. And

Michael 12:30
content creation. Normally just an on Link building is ongoing content creation usually is ongoing as well.

Arthur 12:36
Yeah, it’s ongoing, because at the start, you’ll be doing content for, I guess, the main site, the landing pages, but then as you go on, you’ll be doing additional content, like I mentioned, location pages, and things like that. And then later on down the track, having a content calendar for blog posts and additional content.

Michael 12:52
Yep. So in terms of the agency keeping in touch with you in the reporting, at a bare minimum, you should expect over those three months, a monthly report, and a meeting to discuss the results, the wins and losses and next steps. So that’s three reports, three meetings at a bare minimum. Yeah. Throughout the month, you want good ad hoc service and consultancy, you have a question, they get back to you quickly, you send an email, it doesn’t go unanswered, that sort of stuff. At the end of that three month period, realistically, there should be some sort of review, you know, a quarterly review, or first 90 Days Review, whatever, just to sort of show, you know, where are you now versus started the campaign? How you tracking against the roadmap that you had a plan in place at the start? Yep. Are there any adjustments needed? And really, you’ll know, by the end of that three month period, what the relationships like, are they sort of responsive? Are they servicing you? Well, do they know their stuff? Or is something suspicious? You know, you sort of just putting money into a black hole? Exactly, yeah. What about results? Three months? Well, I

Arthur 14:04
think at the three month mark, you should start seeing some results. So there might not be bottom line results just yet. So you might not see a massive increase in revenue, but you should start seeing an improvement in rankings. So you know, looking at h refs and looking at I guess the organic visibility across a different range of keywords. So you want to see organic visibility, sorry, visibility improve over that three month period. It might not be in the position one to three keywords, but we’ll definitely should be, you know, deeper keywords on page two and onwards. Yep. Make sure you know, looking into h refs and seeing if they are actually building links, having a look at the referring domains, having a look at the of the website and seeing if that’s improving.

Michael 14:46
Alrighty, well, yeah. All makes a lot of sense to me. Let’s, um, let’s check month six. All right, double month, three, but six months into a campaign here,

Arthur 14:57
double month three.

Michael 14:58
Yeah, you know, you’re done. first three months. And really, from there, you know, again, you’re going to be working month to month with your agency, you’re going to be getting your reporting, all that sort of stuff. But I would say the next big milestone is not six. And look at this point with deliverables, all of your technical should be done well. And truly, if you can’t be done in the first six months, you’ve got some serious problems with your site, or an agency that’s not really moving very quickly. So really, it’s just a matter as we spoke about before, really authority Link building is going to be the bread and butter at this point. And then, you know, content creation on going new pages, blog content, that sort of stuff. And it’s going to be also a matter of monitoring, you know, regular health checks, just to make sure that the technical stuff you’ve done, the unset you’ve done is all hunky dory, you know, so the way it should be. Maybe backlink profile, you know, keeping an eye on that. disavow file updates, if you come across dodgy links and that sort of stuff.

Arthur 15:57
That’s it. Yeah, regular checking into search console, making sure there’s no errors, making sure the site’s performing well, looking at the code, vital metrics, and if you can improve those

Michael 16:07
speed of the website. But really, the bulk of the actual SEO work that an agency should be doing for you is going to be on that link building, that’s where the where all your dollars are going to be going. At this point, the foundation should be strong with your site. Probably internal linking as well, needs to be well and truly in place. So all of your existing content should have been audited, and all the internal links set up to, you know, between the existing content, and then also with all the new content. So yeah, there’s no excuses for any SEO holes in your site at month six.

Arthur 16:42
I agree. You’re good.

Michael 16:47
It was like, it was like you were worried about the holes like wait a minute, I have holes in do I have holes in my campaigns that month? Absolutely not? What about reporting at month six, you know, where you work with this agency, what should you have expected for them by way of keeping in touch.

Arthur 17:04
So at month six, you really should be looking to have similar to a QBR, just a six month review, just to kind of see where where the site is up, where the campaign’s that if there’s anything that can be done to improve, you know, six months is a long time in the grand scheme of things. So, you know, the, the clients objectives and goals might have changed, so just resetting those. But likewise, like we touched on previously, you know, having having that monthly call, you should have had, by month, six, six, monthly reports, and six phone calls, to go through all the results.

Michael 17:36
And I would probably say at this point, you might be looking at, if your SEO is working, which we’ll touch on in a moment, results you should have expected, it might be that you’re looking to expand the campaign into other areas or activity based on a particular, you know, result that you’ve had. So you might be looking to scale up against certain categories and really go all in because you’re you’ve got a bit of confidence that the SEO is working or expand to other markets, because you’ve got to build confidence that the SEO is working. So those sorts of decisions and the reporting should be feeding into it from your agency, they should be sort of giving you an idea about what’s possible in that regard. But let’s talk results, because by month six, there definitely should be some results. Definitely. Yeah, depending on how competitive it is, of course, but you know, you should have some strong rankings. So not just, you know, visibility improving, but we’re talking keywords moving up into the top three, lots of page one keywords, you know, especially not wanted to start,

Arthur 18:36
it depends, again, like if it’s a brand new website, it still might take a little bit longer to see keywords in the top three, you should you you should see some less competitive keywords. But yeah, start if you’re starting from absolute scratch, you know, domain history, no links then might take, you know, upwards of 12 months sometimes, but definitely improvements in rankings.

Michael 18:55
Yeah, I’m going to argue with you here and say by month six, even on a new site, you I’m not saying like the ultimate most high value competitive head turns in your space. You should No, I agree. I agree. But if you’re not seeing some like that’s, that’s a fair bit of link building that should have been done. And they might if you don’t, it might be a sign of some other problem with either you know, your content or the domain itself or who knows. But anyway, you want to be seeing an increase in traffic as well, organic traffic. So it’s because it’s not all about rankings, as we always talk about like rankings are just a way of seeing that things are working. But you can you can be driving significantly more organic traffic to your site, even if you don’t necessarily have those top three rankings. So you know, are you driving a lot more longtail traffic to your site, like, all those random searches that people type in? And of course, the important thing to a business owner is not traffic and rankings, it’s conversions, lead sales, whatever that might be. So do you have more from SEO as a channel, your organic channel then you did it Stop, you should ideally buy six the strength of your domain as well, you know, jump in a truss, run a report, how strong is your domain? Now compared to at the start, you know, you should be able to look at your benchmark report that was done and compare. Yeah, by month six, you should see some sort of improvement. Absolutely. More referring domains stronger Dr. scourer, if you’re an address, that sort of stuff. And then of course, like, as we spoke about visibility across the board, you just have more keywords ranking in Google, like a lot more than you did on day zero. Now, do you do agree with that? Oh, do you want to even have another argument about any of those points? So we’re sort of on the same page? Do you reckon

Arthur 20:44
I still stand by my point that it just depends on where I guess where the site was at where you started? I still think that, you know, in situations, sometimes you might, you know, might take a bit longer to start seeing a big increase in revenue, just because if a site has no history, if it didn’t rank previously, you know, getting it to the point where it’s driving consistent revenue and improving it can take time. But yeah, yeah, not really an argument just to I guess, a disclaimer, slash Asterix, like, it’s very much depends on where the site was at when you started. So if the site had has got history, you know, it’s been around for a bit, then 100%. By the six month mark, you should start seeing a pretty, pretty good, like, increase in both traffic and conversions.

Michael 21:27
Yeah. Yeah, I think we’re on the same page and that like, it is month 12, is your ROI is probably not going to be even positive by month six, because you’ve been investing month 12345. Exactly. But you should be seeing those little Inklings those little sort of exactly those those sort of starting starting blocks. I was about to say, yes, starting block, I guess. But anyway, you should be seeing signs of life. Yeah. I think a static block is what swimmers jump off into a pool, though. And like Olympic,

Arthur 21:56
or runners, yeah. When they’re about to do a sprint?

Michael 22:00
Yep. All right, well, let’s move on from the sports app, go to 12. I’ve, you know, in the SEO world, it’s got to be 12 months, you know, you got to be ready for like at least 12 months. So this is a big one, like where are things going to be at month 12.

Arthur 22:16
So at month 12, really, the two main things are going to be link building. So authority link acquisition, just getting as many strong authoritative links that you can to the domain, building on building up that domain authority. And that’s ultimately what’s going to move the needle once all the on site is, you know, up to scratch and you know, more or less perfect at this stage. Another thing again, we kind of touched on would be content. So just, you know, putting out content that’s going to drive more traffic to the site because you’ve already optimised the pages that you want to optimise. It’s about finding where else you can drive that traffic to, or traffic from

Michael 22:51
ad hoc consultancy as well around key things going on in your business. So an example is, you know, for florist, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are like the really big ticket date from the calendar. Absolutely, your SEO agencies should be working towards that, you know, in the three, four or five months ahead of that date, you know, it shouldn’t be something that’s done last minute. So your agencies should be giving you ad hoc consultancy around key events and supporting different initiatives that you have as a business, you know, whether you’re expanding to a new market or launching a new product that needs to be fed into your SEO strategy. And you know, you would expect that over a 12 Month campaign, there has been an element of that ad hoc planning and consultancy going on as well.

Arthur 23:35
But it’s just about maintaining the site, basically, you know, you’re doing your health checks, you’re making sure that the site’s performing well, you’re constantly, you know, running audits on it, making sure the site speeds up to scratch making sure it’s there’s no errors is everything’s just running smoothly.

Michael 23:49
Yep. And in terms of reporting, there should have been at least 12 monthly reports and phone calls and three QB hours by this point. So quarterly business reviews, it’s just a just a term we use to describe those quarterly catch ups. And then ad hoc consultancy should have been consistent throughout the campaign. So they should be coming to you with ideas and and sort of input on different things you got going on in the business, as we said, and then yeah, now your inquiries calls out they responded to quickly the entire time you’ve been working with them, you know, good agencies are getting back to you and servicing you well over that 12 month period. Yeah.

Arthur 24:24
And looking by 12 months, you should see good results, you should see a lot more like more traffic coming to the site, you should see a big increase in conversions be increase in rankings. So I think after the 12 month point, there’s no excuses. If you haven’t seen results by them, then you’re probably not going to see results.

Michael 24:40
With that with that without agency or that plan. Yeah. So yeah, definitely. At month 12, your ROI would be positive. So you should be making significantly more from the SEO channel than you have invested in the campaign. Yeah, so let’s say you invest five grand a month over the course of a year that’s 60 grand over the first six month You might be making $0 Extra. But then over the next six months, you might make a grammar of two grand a month, three grand, more a month, 10 grand a month, and all of a sudden the ROI starts getting very juicy. That’s the beauty of SEO when it all works. And, you know, around that 12 month period, you definitely should be ROI positive. Really? Yeah. Otherwise, something needs to change. So that’s pretty much it in a nutshell, isn’t it? If you’re, if your campaigns rolling out along these lines, then you’re pretty much getting what we would consider to be a good SEO service. If you’re not if you’re not getting reports, or get to the 12 month mark measure results and yeah, it’s time to maybe ask a few questions or hit Arthur up. Give him a call on the weekend. Sunday night. He’ll be happy to talk to you. Why not?

Arthur 25:53
I would.

Michael 25:55
Alright, well, his mobile number is oh four. Nope, just kidding. Just kidding. But um, look, thank you for listening to our bad jokes. And now FBI chat for this week. Hope you enjoyed that episode. That’s episode 18. In the books were almost 20 Who would have thought it but um, look we’ll be back next week with another episode of the SEO show. And in the meantime, happy SEO in total

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