When it comes to hiring a search engine optimization professional, people usually expect to get substantial return on investment. And rightly so.
However, what they don't take into account is how much time and money it will take to get noticed online.
What can one expect from online marketing?
As search engine optimization provides certain improvements in visibiity, it is no surprise that it may lead to products becoming popular and widely used. But can SEOs make an unknown product popular?
As a matter of fact, it will depend on a SEO as long as he makes sure the product is absolutely useful and has numerous benefits. If no marketer was consulted during the creation of the product, the degree of product success will be largely dependant on its quality.
If the product is marginally useful, can be replaced by already existing competing solutions and people can find ways to live without it, it has little chance to survive.
Thus, if you want to get results from a SEO, make sure your product is useful.
Making as it should be
As SEO's success is largely determined by the product and other restrictions that higher management puts in his way, the main job is to ensure that everything required online happens. A site appears, it works, converts visitors and a large number of visitors come to site regularly to buy stuff. Sales come and go and everyone's getting their salary paid.
Nothing spectacular? But without someone experienced online there'll be nothing to talk about. It takes immense knowledge to do things right from the start and achieve results, especially on a new website.
Though certain experienced individuals can get spectacular results, this can mostly be explained by a good product.
Another reason, of course, maybe that they have mastered the art of creating great content. But even if the site has great content and many visitors, it'd make no sense to have a mediocre product on it, which wouldn't sell.
In essence, SEOs and marketers, if given no control over the product, simply make sure that there is enough audience to make the company profitable with the product. Sometimes, it may seem just ok, sometimes it may seem outstanding. But either way, if you don't get your SEO/marketer to improve the product (or create a better one), you'll only get the audience your product deserves.
Partly, it may be justified by the fact that some SEOs may not take up products that are not useful and possess no remarkable values. Some may even only take on projects that interest them personally.
Time and efforts
Another thing that many people go wrong with expectation on SEO is that everything can be done fast, cheap and of high quality. Naturally, this is impossible.
In fact, you expect to get only two of the three (either fast and cheap, or cheap and high quality, or fast and of high quality, but not cheap).
Let's take a hypthetical example. You are a shoe seller. You have a more or less running e-commerce website, but you feel like something's lacking. So you hire a SEO. What he will do?
Most likely, the work will involve:
- optimize on-page SEO
- improve usability to increase conversions
- create great content to get visitors and links
The first two can be done in a couple of weeks, or a month, depending on how knowledgeable is the expert.
On the other hand, creating content and promoting the website can be done perpetually. A month of work may be noticeable, but it'd rather be 2-3 months to get significant results with long-term effect.
If you take visitors and conversions seriously, it'd take some time to study the web analytics and tweak the site accordingly. Considering it may take a week to get results in each iteration, the final site version may be very well weeks or months ahead.
Thus, it'll be at least 3-4 months before your shoe sales will see significant (150%-500%+) boost from an already existing website.
Sounds like an investment dump? If you consider the ROI that such significant efforts may bring, time should have little importance (apart from procrastination, of course). Especially, when there are numerous examples of offline businesses, which online presence gives them 30-50% of the revenue.
How to set the right expectations
So, you want to make sure you don't argue much with your SEO about time spent on the project and results. Then you'll need to consider the following:
- time everything in weeks and months, not days
- thoroughly consider if your product is useful
- only expect almost immediate results from on-site optimization
- give time to create really great content to get more links and visitors
- for substantial growth, consider waiting several months (or more than half a year for a new website)
Read more about things a SEO client should remember.
If you want to save time on negotiation and maintain good mental health during the project, consider having reasonable expectations of what and how fast you can get from a SEO.
As you are hiring an expert, consider doing everything as he says. He's the expert and that's why you are hiring him. Talk about how much time and money it'd require to achieve certain milestones. If anything, reconsider hiring him, but do not force him under strict time and results frames - otherwise, it'll be just another project management nightmare.