“We have some questions about how much we really need SEO copywriting for our website – will it boost our ranking and what will the immediate improvement be?” – Andrew Oliver, Systems and Marketing Supervisor, RHO-TECH.

Andrew asks an excellent question, and one with which I am regularly confronted by clients across the board – how long does SEO take to work? There is no short answer to the question! Below, I provide a brief outline of the how’s and why’s – particularly helpful if you’re pondering a website revamp for your small business or, like Andrew, you’ve been tasked with pitching decision-makers in your corporation who have no background in SEO or content marketing, but hold the purse strings.

SEO is a Process, Not an Event

Many companies think optimising their site is a one-time thing; plug in some good copy and tweak some code and immediately leapfrog from nowhere to number one on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) overnight. This. Does. Not.Happen. And if it does, your SEO consultant is most likely using black hat SEO tactics –  read: ‘illegal’ (against Google Guidelines) methods which may result in short-term gains, but will ultimately get you penalised by Google – i.e. they will send you to the very back of the search engine queue. They have the power to do this, and they exercise it ruthlessly! It’s called The Google Blacklist. Just ask BMW – in one of the most infamous cases of SEO, Google blacklisted this brand in 2006, reducing their page rank to zero, after they found the company in breach of its SEO guidelines. To recover from blacklisting is a momentous task.

Google Guidelines

Google publishes SEO guidelines periodically. These guidelines are aligned with their search algorithms, which are trade secrets. An algorithm is a mathematical formula for sorting data and it’s the basis of internet search. Google updates these algorithms frequently and randomly. Good SEOs, who use white hat tactics only, adhere to these guidelines. You can read Google’s Webmaster Guidelines here. One of the most important items on the list – publishing high quality content. Google assigns great importance to content quality, as well as quantity (how much content and how often). Reading between the lines, then, it’s clear that a content strategy needs to become part of any organisation’s online marketing campaign, particularly if it wants to remain relevant and respond to algorithm updates.

Slowly, Slowly Wins the Race

Just like a one-off TV or print advert will not miraculously boost your brand presence or sales, neither will a one-off shot at SEO. With a TV campaign, for example, one would expect to run an ad spot frequently, updating it periodically and running it again. Brands like Coco-Cola and MTN are top-of-mind because they’re persistent in their above-the-line ad campaigns. Same thing with SEO, which is really part of a larger concept called Content Marketing. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Consistent, persistent effort will pay off in the long run.

 Appealing to Humans

Good content is not just about SEO. Content must be crafted to appeal to two audiences – search engines and human readers. Well-crafted content can help:

  • Attract and retain the attention of human readers
  • Increase the amount of time they spend on your site (lowering the so-called ‘bounce rate’)
  • Encourage them to take action (through writing strong Calls-to-Action) – for example, signing up to a newsletter, contacting you for further information or making an online sale
  • In addition, the quality of your content reflects on your brand image – copy with spelling, grammar and punctuation issues (which Google picks up on, by the way!), reflects poorly on your brand, while well-written copy elevates it.

What’s the Upshot?

Think of your SEO campaign in stages or phases. Optimising the copy on the pages you have is laying the foundation for further building blocks. From this initial effort, you should see steady improvement in your rankings in the months that follow, but will have to continue working at it to maintain and further improve it. If you do this, you can expect good gains over the next year. Remember, sites which receive excellent traffic and goal conversion are those which implement a sustained SEO and social media content plan (add different forms of content daily, monthly and weekly). 

In summary…

Great optimised content can help you:

  • Get Found – increase your chances of search engines coming across your web pages and indexing them in their databases
  • Drive Traffic – increase the chances of humans clicking through from the SERP to your web pages, and sharing your content with others
  • Drive Sales – through copy crafted at driving goal conversion.

See RHO-TECH's new optimised web content here
To learn more about how content marketing can help grow your business, get in touch!