Search Engine Optimization Tips
What To Expect
When Will My Rankings Improve?
Watching the results of SEO is like watching a really slow horse race. It’s exciting, but don’t hold your breath.
Well-established websites (ones that already have lots of high-quaility inbound links) can sometimes see results in a week or two. New sites or unpopular sites sometimes take a year or two to rank well. But a typical website should start ranking well within six months.
The two main factors determining the speed at which your rankings chage are when Google indexes your site next, and when it finds the links that other websites have made to your site.
Indexing Your Site
Indexing happens when Google’s “bot” or “spider” (an automated web crawler) visits a website and downloads some or all of its content. Google won’t be aware of any changes you make on your site until it indexes your site again.
Most sites get indexed about once every couple weeks. Popular ones like cnn.com get indexed several times a day. To see when Google last indexed your site, type this query into the Google search box:
Indexing Sites Linking to You
To give you credit for any inbound links you got recently, Google also needs to index those sites linking to you. Links from popular sites will be found quickly, but most directories don’t get indexed very often–maybe once a month or every couple months. Unfortunately, many don’t get indexed at all. The good news is, this slow rate of indexing makes your inbound links from directories appear more like they were gained by natural means.
Google tends to ignore websites under 8 months old. Sorry–you’ll have to wait a bit, youngsters. In the meantime, if you’re a business offering local products or services, make sure you’re registered with Google Local Business. You also might consider starting a pay-per-click campaign (PPC). Explaining how to do this is beyond the scope of my website, but if you’ve gotten this far, you won’t have trouble figuring it out. I recommend Google Adwords.
Rapid Increase in Inbound Links
If you have little link popularity, it may take a while for Google to give you credit for directory links. Your website looks too much like the new kid in town, strutting around like he owns the place, and Google doesn’t trust you. Getting links from a few quality websites can offset this effect.
How High Should I Rank To Get Search Traffic?
At least in the top 10. There was this great study that AOL did in 2005 which recorded people’s clicking behavior in 36 million searches. They found that 42% of searchers clicked on the #1 SERP (Search Engine Results Position). 12% clicked on #2, which means you’ll get (on average) 3x more traffic if you’re #1 than if you’re #2!
Here’s a chart showing you the stats for the first 10 search results:
Looking at page 2 of the search results, we see that results #11 and #12 get about 3% each, and then the rest drop into fractions of a percentage point:
Obviously, you’re not going to get much traffic if you’re not of page 1 of Google’s search results. And if you really want some heavy traffic, you’ll want to rank in the #1 position for a popular search term.
How Do I Know If All This Work Was “Worth It”?
Google Analytics or something similar will tell you how much search traffic you’re getting. But ultimately, that traffic doesn’t help unless it converts to sales or new customers. Ecommerce websites can easily track this, but we guitar teachers have to rely on asking our new students how they heard about us.
I recommend making this question part of your first contact with a prospective student: “How did you find me?” The sooner you can ask this the better–people often don’t remember if they clicked on an ad, a link from another website, or on organic search results, and even if they do, they’ll forget quickly. Make it a habit to ask people right away when they call or email you.
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