One thing that many SEOs and business owners seem to struggle with is the concept that truly successful, effective and high-quality SEO campaigns can take months of consistent work and investment to pay off (especially in more competitive industries). Effective SEO which generates long term business gains is an investment. Do not let the desire for short term results lead you to the true cost of impatience.
Many people incorrectly assume that being the best in the SEO industry automatically translates to the quickest results and achieving number one rankings for their clients overnight. This is simply not true and those truly at the top of the game will have no problem admitting this. In this post we will show you a typical example of the true cost of impatience and compare short term results (and what happens when they come crashing down) to genuine long-term gains.
The screenshot above shows the organic visibility of a high-profile vaping client we worked with for some time (chart pulled from SEMrush). As you can see, starting in late 2014 the site started climbing steadily in organic traffic in one of the most competitive SEO industries. In early 2018 you can see the traffic start to really pick up for a few months before suffering a huge drop. We will dive into what happened below.
Thanks to the high-quality links being earned for the site through our digital PR work, the site experienced consistent growth throughout 2015 with no major drops or corrections. The client was getting featured in top publications and press as a result of the data-driven research pieces and targeted outreach that the Reboot team was doing which made the site more powerful and allowed it to rank for increasingly competitive keywords. The results were clear with the site generating over 100,000 organic users a month.
The owner mentioned that he wanted to try guest posting (a link building technique not within Google’s guidelines offered by agencies of all sizes) after being promised over night rankings and results by another agency. We advised against it and said that we were not comfortable creating such links for him because of the damage that they can cause when Google works out the link scheme. The client ignored this advice and decided to go ahead with a guest posting service.
The digital PR work we carry out earns genuine, organic links from the most powerful sites. This usually means that branded or generic anchor texts are used as opposed to keyword rich ones. The client wanted to build keyword rich anchor text links assuming that such an aggressive strategy would result in quicker rankings. Our extensive experience has taught us that such obvious link building and over optimisation will not go unnoticed and eventually lead to a penalty or demotion of the site.
In December 2017 the guest posting links started to have some effects and for a short time the site experienced accelerated organic growth. We suspected this would continue until Google became aware of the attempt to manipulate their results which would result in a sharp decrease. Sure enough, June 2018 saw the site experience a massive drop. Organic traffic plummeted to way below the amount the site was receiving before starting the guest posting campaigns. The site went from generating over 100,000 organic visits a month to below 40,000.
Whilst the site still generates a decent amount of organic traffic, it has not made any real progress towards the amount it received before the guest posting began or before the massive drop. Not only has the progress made until the shady links started being built been lost but had they spent the 12 months wasted building white hat, quality links instead, they would be far ahead where they are now, and it is more than likely even above their guest posting peak.
It is possible that the damage could be undone by once again investing in only the highest quality link building campaigns, but it will come at great additional expense. It is likely they will need many more links to undo the damage that has been caused (in some cases this might not ever be possible) and they have given their main competitors a 12-month head start.
We have another client who operates in one of the most competitive property industries. They are competing with brands who spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on TV advertising and generate ten figure brand searches. This client has patiently invested in the highest quality link building offered by Reboot for several years and has seen consistent growth and rankings that hold strong even through the most turbulent and volatile updates.
You can see where we started working with the client in July 2015 and we have been providing digital PR, technical SEO and content marketing services to them ever since. Whilst they have seen some dramatic gains around core Google updates, the trend is a consistent increase in organic traffic over the years, not days, weeks or months.
You may be thinking “but that isn’t as much traffic as the vaping client” and you would be right but considering the value of a customer and level of competition in this niche, we can easily compare the results. See below for the estimated worth of the organic traffic their site receives each month.
The point is that whilst it may be possible to rank for competitive keywords using both black/grey hat and white hat strategies, the difference is that only one will bring you long term results.
If you have investigated buying or selling websites/any online business you will know that rankings and how they were secured (through high quality links or paid for, low quality ones such as those created through guest posting services) can have a huge impact on the final sale price. This is because experts know that if you rank using shady tactics, the risk is extremely high that Google will eventually catch up to you and your rankings will drop.
If you are a business owner looking for long term growth and security, don’t be fooled by short term results and impatience. Work with an experienced SEO company and use a long-term strategy to stop your heart racing every time you read about the latest Google update.