5 Ways Social Media Can Improve Your SEO

For many business owners new to the world of digital marketing, there is often a common misconception that SEO and social media are separate entities, each operating in their own world with distinct goals. SEO and organic social media marketing work together to create value and provide relevance for your audience. Any good digital marketing strategy should do its best to have both SEO and social media working together, in tandem. In this article, we will look at five ways that SEO works together with social media to bring more visitors to your site.

1.)  Social Media Allows for Content Promotion

social media amplifying SEOThe first way that social media can (indirectly) help your search engine ranking is through content promotion. We might write, film, or record tons of great quality, keyword-optimized content but still not get many eyes and ears consuming it. Social media allows you to take the quality content you have worked hard to produce and promote it on several channels.

Social media is the easiest and most effective way to push out your SEO-based content. While the incoming links from your social media shares don’t have the same impact as authentic links from high-quality sites, they can influence your bounce rate and time-on-site engagement. If your content is good and people stick around to read it, those engagement metrics communicate value to search engines. Your goal should be to turn your best organic content into social media content so you can then encourage engagement and drive traffic back to your site.

2.)  Social Media Encourages More Engagement

The second way that social media can improve your site’s SEO is through increased engagement. If somebody finds our content useful and shares it within a social media platform, this is not a ranking signal for Google or Bing. However, the good news is that engagement is!

If you take full advantage of social media to promote your top quality content, you want to keep in mind that engagement matters for SEO. Engagement helps to not only improve your online reputation but also to make connections and generate leads for your business. Content that gets tons of engagement on social media platforms will rank for the topics they cover. According to Moz, “to determine success, an algorithm looks at whether users engaged. If more people engage that’s a clear sign that their algorithm is showing this right content; if not, their systems will audition other content instead to find something that generates that interest.”

3.) Social Sharing Can Lead to Link Building

link building through social mediaSocial media can also lead to authentic, high-quality links from influential websites. Influencers use social media as much as (or even more than) anyone else. With your content out there on the same channels they’re on, there’s a good chance they’ll see it and link to it from their own websites or blogs. That kind of high-value link building from influencer marketing can be impossible to land at a high rate without social media.

Social media is also useful for SEO because it encourages more external sites to link to your content, and the more diverse external links you have, the more authority you’ll gain in Google’s eyes. The catch is that you have to have high-quality, authoritative content or you will have nothing of real value to attract links.

4.) Increased Brand Awareness Improves Your SEO Rankings

The fourth way that social media contributes to SEO is through increasing brand awareness. This may seem like more of a branding advantage than a specific SEO advantage, but the SEO benefit is huge! Increasing your reputation on social media, through increased engagement and publishing consistent, high-quality content, will lead to increased online brand presence. An ever-increasing brand presence will lead to more branded searches on Google over time. The more branded searches your brand receives, the higher it’s likely to rank for non-branded keywords.

5.) Google’s Partnership with Twitter

Twitter bird Finally, it’s important to acknowledge that Google has a partnership with Twitter. We do not know precisely what this means for the future of social and search marketing. However, we know it is common to see relevant tweets in the Google search results, for branded searches. Having your Twitter posts showing up in the search results does not impact your site’s SEO, but it can improve your brand awareness, authority, and lead to increased link building with other sites. According to the renowned marketer, Neil Patel, there are several ways one can take advantage of the Twitter/Google partnership with the most obvious one being to remember to tweet and to tweet often. As long as this partnership exists, user search will lead tweets (and Twitter hashtags) with similar keywords.

Wrapping Up…

Although social media often works to improve your website’s organic rank in Google, it has the ability to serve as an invaluable tool over time! Whether it’s through content promotions, boosted engagement, more link-building, increased brand awareness, or taking advantage of Google’s relationship with Twitter, you will leverage social media to increase your organic traffic and conversions via search.

Leverage Marketing’s SEO and social media marketing teams are ready to help you improve your site’s traffic and engagement. Contact Leverage today to learn more about our services.

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Old School vs. New School SEO Strategy

There’s no question that the world of search engine optimization (SEO) has changed drastically since the advent of Google and its original competitors like Yahoo!, Ask Jeeves, and AltaVista back in the 1990s. SEO marketing strategies have adapted to modern user trends, Google’s algorithm updates, and today’s technology. Old school SEO relied on agencies and websites gaming search engines to pull in customers and become first in the rankings. Even though many outdated SEO techniques no longer work, they’re still common advice given to new content creators and SEO specialists.

These outdated SEO strategies and content writing can penalize your sites, as Google recognizes and demotes websites with low-quality or irrelevant content as of its Panda and Penguin updates.

Google large SEO

Old School SEO (late 1990s-late 2000s)New School SEO (early 2010s-forward)
Ranking for all keywordsRank for relevant keywords
Use multiple variations of the same keywordKeywords are secondary to content
Keyword stuffingUse keywords sparingly
Continuously reuse evergreen contentWrite new, relevant content
Put links, keywords, and tags into footerUse a clean footer with important information
Cloaking (one page to search engine, another to users)Never employ black hat SEO practices
Overusing internal links with same anchor textOnly employ internal links when pertinent, use anchor text that fits within content
Dedicated pages for every keyword variant, separate microsites, and domainsAppropriate landing pages for content, but no additional pages to rank
Unstrategic linkbait to get users to clickAppropriate titles that draw users in

Learn how to avoid the black-hat methods of old-school SEO and use updated SEO techniques to target your customers.

How Did Old School SEO Work?

SEO content has evolved drastically in the two decades since we started using search engines, but it had to start somewhere. While some examples of “how it used to be” are exaggerated, writing for SEO used to mean:

  • Keyword Stuffing– Jam keywords everyone you can—in the content, into tags, into locations. The more keywords you could fit onto a page, the higher it would rank.
  • Keyword Variants– If your primary keyword target was “engagement ring,” you’d use dozens of variations on that—like “diamond engagement ring,” “engagement rings,” “engagement rings jewelry,” etc. It would go on endlessly to attempt to hit any keyword match possible. Without the power of broad match keywords, exact matches were a necessity.
  • Cloaking and Writing for Engines– Back in the early days of SEO, cloaking was common. You’d develop a set of SEO keywords for the search engines and show the users something totally different on the page. Sometimes this created instances where the keywords didn’t match the content at all.

SEO strategy evolved over the 2000s, as keyword stuffing become less common, domain names were no longer keyword intensive, and links become the most important part of SEO content writing. Google’s algorithms grew more sophisticated, and the search engine market started to shrink. By the end of the decade, only Google and Microsoft were real players in the market—and SEO specialists were developing their techniques to suit their algorithms.

penguin google

How Does SEO Work in 2018?

So how has writing for SEO changed in two decades? Should content writing even focus on SEO and keywords anymore? The goal today is to solve the searcher’s query. Content should answer questions people are asking, helping them accomplish their task. That can be purchasing a product, learning how to complete a DIY task, or educating themselves about a new topic. Content that performs these goals will be most successful. Additionally, some SEO strategies have gotten simpler, and some more complex in response to Google’s changes in its Panda and Penguin updates. Panda can detect lower quality, and thin or plagiarized content and Penguin can easily detect link and tag manipulation. Algorithmic updates affect site rankings and SEO content writing, but good writing is more likely to rank highly.

  • Intent Matching– Inserting every single keyword variant is no longer necessary. Instead, think about the searcher’s intent. Write a piece of content and use keywords that factor that intent in. Using the engagement ring example, a single page about how to purchase the perfect engagement ring would suffice, incorporating several relevant keyword phrases.
  • The Tags that Matter– Whereas all tags used to be stuffed with keywords, only a few really matter anymore. Those are the title element and body content. These are the areas in which you need to use your keywords. It’s still valuable to use keywords in other places, like the URL field, meta description, and image alt attributes, but they’re not necessary.
  • User Experience Reigns Supreme– With Google Analytics to view engagement data, you can see how users interact with your content. That means that the experience of reading content and engaging with your website is more important than ever before and contributes to Google’s rankings. High-quality writing that your users interact with provides results.

Develop SEO Optimized Content

When developing content in 2018, create a workflow that incorporates SEO strategy for the modern age. Follow some basic steps, and you’ll be on your way to crafting first-class content that your users want to read.

  1. Develop a keyword list you want to target
  2. Determine what searchers want to achieve with their queries
  3. Create an outline and draft your piece
  4. Write primarily for the audience, integrating the keywords
  5. Figure out why people will want to share this—make it exciting

If you’re still employing old school or black hat SEO tactics at your company, Leverage Marketing can help you start employing new techniques. Our content marketing team knows how to write for SEO and connect with your audience.

10 Influencer Identification Tools to Help You Find Brand Partners

After seeing how influencer marketing has helped other businesses increase their brand awareness and sales, you’ve decided it’s time to partner with bloggers and social media power users. But how do you find the people who most appeal to your target audience?

If you feel like finding social media influencers to work with is a bit like going on an elaborate internet scavenger hunt, you’re not alone. One survey from Econsultancy found that 73% of marketers rank finding the right influencers as the biggest challenge of influencer marketing.

Fortunately, a bevy of influencer identification tools has emerged to help marketers and influencers connect. These tools range from free social media monitoring platforms to robust search databases that cost thousands of dollars a month. To help you sort through the many options, I’m providing an overview of 10 widely-used tools to find influencers.

First, some quick caveats:

  1. Pricing in this post is based on the most recent data available at the time of publication.
  2. I’m not affiliated with any of these platforms, and I’m not recommending any one over the others. The best influencer identification tools for you will depend on your brand, business goals, and budget.
  3. There’s a whole cottage industry around influencer marketing, and this blog post is far from a definitive list of all the influencer research tools out there. I’ve tried to choose a representative sample of some of the most popular tools that reflect a range of price points, focuses, and models.

Here’s the quick TL;DR table version of the platforms I looked at:

Good for Finding Influencers On:
ToolFree Version?Price RangeBlogsTwitterInstagramFacebookYouTube
Fresh Press Media$$XXXXX



Free for 1 Twitter profile

$29/mo for up to 3 profiles

$79/mo for up to 20 profiles

Followerwonk is a Moz tool designed to help with influencer identification on Twitter. You can search for keywords that are relevant to your product or service within Twitter users’ bios, and you can also identify influencers who are following your competitors but not you. Followerwonk has a useful Venn diagram feature that lets you compare followers of 2-3 users (say, your Twitter profile and the profile of your biggest competitor).

screenshot of Venn diagram from Followerwonk influencer identification tool

Source: Followerwonk

Other Good Stuff to Know

The free version of Followerwonk is a good starting point but has some limitations. You can’t analyze Twitter accounts with more than 25k followers, and you can only perform 50 Twitter profile searches per day. You also can’t download analytics reports, as you can with the paid plans.


Pricing: $49/mo

Brands with visually appealing products may be well-served by Trendspottr, an influencer identification tool built for Instagram. One of the key benefits of Trendspottr is that it lets you find social media influencers associated with trending topics in real-time.

Other Good Stuff to Know

Trendspottr has applications that extend beyond influencer marketing. You can also use it to research emerging trends in your industry, discover Instagram posts that are resonating with your target audience, and monitor your brand’s social media reputation.



$27 flat rate for Basic Plan

$47 flat rate for Pro Plan

$47 flat rate + $17/mo for Platinum Plan

Enter a search term related to your niche, and AuthoritySpy will identify the most influential people and blogs associated with that term. It will also show you social media metrics (such as number of Facebook followers and likes) to help you determine the reach of each blog and influencer.

As with most influencer identification platforms, AuthoritySpy lets you narrow your search using filters like region and language. One thing that makes AuthoritySpy a little more interesting is that it also lets you search for people working at a company; for example, you could use this tool to quickly pull together a list of editors at a site where you want to pitch a guest post.

Other Good Stuff to Know

AuthoritySpy is the one tool on this list that is software-based rather than cloud-based. It requires the Adobe AIR app, which runs on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS operating systems.



Free with limited features

$79/mo for Pro Plan

$139/mo for Plus Plan

$239/mo for Large Plan

$500+/mo for customizable Enterprise Plan

Buzzsumo lets you enter keywords to find the most-shared content on social media and see who has shared that content. One easy influencer identification strategy for Buzzsumo is to search for terms related to topics you’ve recently written on; this can help you uncover social media influencers who may be interested in sharing your content or promoting your product.

Buzzsumo most shared screenshot

Source: Buzzsumo

Buzzsumo’s paid plans help you refine your influencer discovery process by applying filters such as Influencer Type (e.g. journalist, blogger, company), reach, authority, influence, and engagement. Once you start finding influencers you’d like to work with, you can use the Amplification tool to start building outreach lists.

Other Good Stuff to Know

The free version of Buzzsumo can be frustrating due to its limitations. It only lets you search for the most-shared content in the past year (rather than adjusting your search range to the past 3 or 6 months, for example) and you can’t view the people who shared the content.



Free with limited features

$249+/mo for subscription

Klear boasts a database of 500 million influencer profiles across 60k categories. You can search for influencers by niche, such as “Yoga” or “Fashion,” and filter results by influencer level (Novice, Casual, Power Users, and Celebrities). Each influencer profile includes audience demographics to help you determine if the influencer is a good fit for your brand. When you find an influencer you want to work with, you can message them directly from Klear’s CRM.

Other Good Stuff to Know

In addition to using Klear to find social media influencers, you can use it to research your existing brand community. The platform includes demographic insights about the people who are talking about your brand on social media.

Fresh Press Media


Minimum spend of $250 to launch a campaign

Service fee (typically 20% of what advertiser pays the influencer)

Fresh Press Media is a marketplace where advertisers can connect with online influencers and content creators. Advertisers post opportunities to participate in a campaign and influencers bid on the project (i.e. tell the advertiser how much they want to be paid to promote their product or service).

Other Good Stuff to Know

This platform offers some flexibility in how you compensate influencers. For example, you could negotiate a flat placement fee to have an influencer feature your product on their blog or offer them a free product in exchange for a review.



Variable– must schedule a free demo to get pricing

Although its (relatively) high cost may be prohibitive for smaller businesses, Upfluence can be a valuable influencer identification tool for more established brands and agencies. Upfluence includes some robust search features, including the ability to combine multiple keywords or include negative keywords (i.e. words you want to exclude from your results). You can build influencer lists and use Upfluence’s CRM to email influencers (or export your lists so you can use your preferred email platform).

Upfluence search screenshot influencer identification

Source: Upfluence

Other Good Stuff to Know

Influencer profiles include details about reach and engagement across social platforms, but there isn’t a lot of information about the influencer’s audience. You’ll have to reach out to influencers directly (or combine Upfluence with other influencer research tools) to determine if they’re reaching your target audience.



Variable—must schedule a free demo to get pricing

You’ll find a database of over 15 million blogs on GroupHigh. You can search for blogs and bloggers by niche topic, social presence, reach, location, and more. As with many of the other big influencer identification platforms, GroupHigh has its own CRM that you can use to track communication with bloggers. It also has reporting features that let you track the social engagement metrics of the posts you create with influencers, helping you to determine the ROI of each campaign.

Other Good Stuff to Know

GroupHigh has a lot of engagement tracking features and lets you collect all online content (tweets, Youtube videos, etc.) related to your influencer campaign. You can also integrate GroupHigh and Google Analytics to get a comprehensive traffic and conversion report.



$1999/mo for Standard Plan

Custom pricing for Enterprise and Agency Plans

Like Fresh Press Media, TapInfluence bills itself as an influencer marketplace. Over 50k influencers have opted to be included in the TapInfluence database, making it a good place to find eager brand ambassadors. Advertisers can determine whether influencers align with their brand by using the Audience Intelligence feature, which includes audience information like interests, brand affinities, and income level.

TapInfluence featured influencer screenshot

Source: TapInfluence

Other Good Stuff to Know

One particularly interesting feature available on TapInfluence is the real-time Cost-per-Engagement report. Measuring ROI can be one of the biggest challenges of influencer marketing campaigns, and TapInfluence helps marketers get a better understanding of the cost vs. benefit of working with specific influencers.



Undisclosed—must schedule a free demo to get pricing

HYPR’s influencer identification platform emphasizes audience demographics. You can search the database by audience demographics such as location, age, and interests. Each search will lead to a list of influencers whose audiences match the selected criteria. You can build lists of influencers you’re interested in working with and export them as PDFs.

Other Good Stuff to Know

HYPR doesn’t have a built-in messaging feature. However, you can access an influencer’s contact information on your exported lists.

Choosing Your Influencer Identification Tools

The best way to choose influencer research tools for your business is to try out a few that interest you. Most platforms offer a free trial so that you can get familiar with the features and interface before you make a commitment.

If you’re ready to launch an influencer marketing campaign but don’t have a lot of experience, you may be best served by working with a digital marketing agency. Agencies—including Leverage Marketing– typically have access to a range of influencer identification tools and can handle outreach and ongoing communication with influencers.

Contact Leverage to learn about influencer marketing and how it fits with our other services.

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Intelligent Personal Voice Assistants in Business and Marketing

You’ll find, all around you, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Google’s Assistant suite, and Amazon Alexa climbing the staircase of intelligent personal voice assistant potential. These software and hardware combinations use artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) to carry out commands from human voices.

clone of amazon echo with alexa technology

What’s remarkable is that the major personal assistants are learning, through a combination of artificial intelligence and programmer input, how to parse and interpret language used in everyday life. They then take that input and generate a response that has the potential to decrease or eliminate human effort for ordinary tasks.

One of the goals in marketing is to mitigate the effort to which consumers have to go to purchase a product or service. Intelligent personal assistants, while not fully developed, have presented the possibility of streamlining orders of products and services through automation. Automation through artificial intelligence could be a potent way for business owners to ensure that customers not only try out and buy their products, but that those customers continue to come back for more.

Businesses Are Already Using Intelligent Voice Assistants

Of course, some of the leading enterprises of modern business have started experimenting with personal AI assistants to ease the burden of the purchase process on their customers. Some, like Amazon, have even created their own assistants complete with custom skills and software.

The functions of intelligent personal assistants for businesses split effectively into two categories: products and services.

For Products

Consumer products, under which we will include fast food, have certainly enjoyed improvements in their purchase processes with such milestones as online ordering, free shipping, and single day delivery. Often, consumers can save money and effort by ordering products they find at storefronts from online retailers.

mystery package with leverage marketing logo

The next milestone appears to be voice ordering with intelligent personal assistants like Alexa and Google Now. The flexibility of their skills systems, through which businesses can create custom voice commands, allows for robust ordering functions that don’t require customers to scroll through product lists.

Large-scale examples for both products and fast food include:

  • Amazon – Amazon’s Alexa performs many of the functions of other assistants like Cortana and Siri. But since Alexa is Amazon’s creation, she specializes in providing product recommendations and placing orders for customers using natural language processing.
  • Dominos & Pizza Hut – Through artificial intelligence platforms that learn, Dominos and Pizza Hut have made it possible for frequent customers to quickly order their favorite pizzas and have them delivered. The assistant stores order and payment information and recalls it by voice commands such as, “Alexa, ask Pizza Hut to reorder.”

Though it may seem like a novelty, voice ordering has the potential to save vast amounts of time and effort as NLP improves. Even more exciting is the fact that designers of personal AI assistants are improving their custom command creation kits, as well. That means that, eventually, even small businesses may be able to enter their products into the voice ordering realm.

For Services

Similarly, service-based businesses have found clever ways to circumvent repetitive or tedious tasks that are required by customers when using their services. Doing so automatically gives these companies a competitive edge by providing dominant solutions to consumers who have purchased an intelligent personal assistant.

leverage purple musical note

Major service-based businesses that have taken advantage of voice-activated functionality include:

  • Uber & Lyft – Ride share services allow you to find prices for rides to and from recognizable locations, then request those rides without ever having to open your app.
  • Kayak – Kayak’s extensive travel database is searchable through voice for tracking flights, checking prices, and discovering flights under a budget designated by you.
  • Slack – Slack integration takes dictation a step further by allowing users to post dictated messages to a specified channel.
  • Spotify – Spotify and similar music streaming services have enabled users to play music by category, playlist, artist, or song, as well as upvote and downvote songs in compatible apps.

There is potential for other service-based businesses, especially those on subscription, to enhance customer retention and increase service upgrades through intelligent personal assistants. Common services, including local ones such as plumbing and electrical work, may be able to take advantage of the ease of use of voice command technology.

How Can Intelligent Personal Assistants Help Market Your Business?

grocery bag with leverage colored ball

Working your product or service into ordinary interactions with voice-operated personal assistants will be the number one skill essential to using assistants for marketing. Because the potential is so enormous, it will be more effective to share some examples of how marketing can fit into those interactions.

You can use intelligent personal assistants to integrate your business with consumer home life in such ways as:

  • Connecting your food-delivery service to consumer grocery lists and offering instant ordering for items you can sell and ship.
  • Creating voice commands for your smart-home enabled furnishings such as lights, appliances, and electronics that consumers can intuitively use.
  • Enable your educational tools to work with children’s voice commands to enhance their ability to learn and interact with your software for school.
  • Teach voice-operated personal assistants about customer needs for booking hotel rentals, which enables them to name a place and date for immediate booking.
  • Tie reservations to an online system that is voice-ready to allow restaurant guests to make their reservations through their devices.

Think first about how your customers ordinarily interact with your staff, storefront, or online business. Look for shortcuts within those interactions where customers could use natural language to shorten the funnel from awareness to conversion. Get your products and services to customers faster than they ever thought possible; once you do, they won’t be able to live without them.

Our Leverage Marketing experts can help you figure out how your product or service integrates with intelligent personal assistants. Get in touch with us today to learn more.

How Long Does SEO Take to Work?

Repeat after me: There is no such thing as a “magic SEO snake oil” that will rank your site #1 on Google by tomorrow. Plenty of non-reputable internet companies promise SEO results in a practically-instant time frame, but let’s be realistic – SEO is a wine that gets better over time. Like a fine Cabernet Sauvignon from the south of France, you’d be doing it an injustice to judge the results after one month. SEO and red wine are both usually much better after years of care and development.

Wine metaphors aside, you no doubt want to know how long SEO will take so you can determine how soon to expect your investment to pay off. SEO analysts like me want to know too, which is why there’s a lot of research out there on this relationship between SEO and time. There are a lot of different ways to look at the data, butfor this article, I decided to focus on the power of content.

At Leverage, we’re big believers in content as a cornerstone of good SEO. Telling search engines and users what each page is about is a win-win: both humans and search engines need language to understand what’s on the site. With a good content-driven SEO strategy in place, a site can be optimized for search queries that match up with your offerings.

Content’s potential is often underrated and misunderstood by digital marketing industry insiders and outsiders alike. That’s why I’ve taken a dive into some of our agency’s data to get a better idea of how quickly SEO works with a content-focused strategy, and how long the strategy takes to increase site visibility and drive traffic to individual pages of a site.

What We Looked At

After noticing trends in the performance of the blog posts on the Leverage Marketing website, I wondered about the link between keyword-optimized content and organic search performance. How long after publishing an article did SEO take? How long did our blog articles take to start showing up on the search result pages on the first, second, or third pages, where someone would find them and click on them?

I was also interested in the relationship between time and SEO results for our clients, and knew we had the data that would help me get the full picture of Leverage’s SEO success.

I looked at a small sample of key landing pages from three sites – one lead-generation focused site, one ecommerce site, and our very own site, www.theleverageway.com.

I wanted to isolate the impact of adding optimized content to individual pages (while performing standard technical SEO optimizations to ensure top performance).

It’s easy to point at total organic traffic levels and say, “there, that’s where we started performing SEO, so that’s how long SEO took to work for my site.”

SEO improvement over time concept

Obviously, this growth is the bottom line that you want to see when starting an SEO campaign. However, it’s interesting to drill down and look at growth on a more specific scale – in this case, the growth of traffic to an individual page after a big SEO improvement, such as adding keyword-optimized content.

When you look at keyword-optimized content’s impact page by page, you can watch how quickly your SEO strategy really worked to start changing the way people find your site.

How We Defined “Success”

There are a lot of different ways to measure “SEO success”. The average SEO analyst knows that there’s an endless number of variables that can be analyzed to determine success – traffic levels, keyword rankings, leads/sales, site engagement, and much more. Asking “how long SEO takes to work” only has meaning if we define what it means for SEO to “work”.

For these cases, I chose to look at the number of organic entrances to certain pages.

Why? I wanted to be able to specifically isolate the effect of publishing good content on important pages. Total traffic is, of course, important, as are visits coming to your site via any page. But by just watching the growth of 5 fledgling pages into full-grown, highly-trafficked pages, I can get a much more granular look at the time frame of SEO results driven by that content improvements on a site.

What about conversions? Let’s be real – the reason you, as a website owner, care about SEO, is not higher traffic or lower bounce rates. You care that people are completing desired actions on your site, such as purchases, lead form completions, phone calls, newsletter signups, etc. The increased traffic level that SEO drives to your site is only important if those visitors are converting. We know this, and are by no means discounting that fact by just looking at site entrances in this article.

However, in all the examples I looked at, the increase in traffic also resulted in an increase in the conversions that keep these sites in business. Assuming that your offering is honest and is something people want, and that your site’s design makes it easy for visitors to get that offering, good SEO = more traffic = more conversions. But for the sake of demonstrating how long SEO takes to work, we’re just looking at the time it took to drive more traffic to the site, because that was good traffic that did translate into conversions.

What You Should Consider About This Data

You can get really in the weeds trying to judge different sites’ SEO successes next to each other. It isn’t as simple a task as it might seem. There are a lot of factors that can impact how long SEO will take to work on a site, such as:

  • Site upgrades, redesigns, domain moves, CMS updates, etc. – Were there any big technical changes that impacted SEO-related facets of the site? Big changes can affect rankings and site visibility in many, many ways.
  • Investment – How much time has been spent investing money and time into SEO for this site? Higher investment can often mean quicker results.
  • Starting point – How much work was needed to solidify the technical aspects of the site before core SEO activities like content creation and implementation could take place? How old is the domain? If there was a lot of setup work taking up resources early on, or if the site is brand new, sometimes it takes time to gain momentum.
  • Competition — How competitive are the queries that you’re trying to rank for? It’s going to take longer to see results if you’re looking to rank for something highly competitive or something that is already dominated by a large set of strong websites – the higher the mountain, the longer the climb.
  • Conversion-friendliness/site design — How good is the user experience of the site? If the design is poor or the calls to action are not clear, people are going to bounce off your site, which will not help SEO.

That’s just a shortlist. There are many factors that play intosite rankings, and even the most seasoned of SEO professionals are still trying to determine the exact algorithmic minutia. The results we saw in these three cases are by no means standards, guarantees, or expectations – every single site is different, and therefore, the time frame for SEO results is going to be different, too.

That being said, I listed all the underlying factors that affected how long SEO took for each of these cases so you could get an idea of how much variation we have to take into account, even just across three sites. There’s no one great way to “hold all other factors constant” as you would in a classic scientific experiment, so I’ve taken care to state the facts, make conclusions about their effects on our data, and to give you the opportunity to do the same.

Case #1: Lead Generation for a Local Service Business

For a client with a local business and several strong competitors in the area, we knew before beginning our SEO campaign that we needed to strengthen the sparse content on their site to grab top local rankings. To do this, we began to build out pages that addressed each specific service the business offers. Let’s look at the effect that expanding and editing all that content, along with making technical improvements in the background, had for this site.

Some factors playing into how long SEO took to work for this site:

  • This website had some less-than-great SEO work performed on it before becoming a Leverage client, spammy link-building being the main issue. Our team was able to resolve existing problems, but a domain’s past can never truly be erased.
  • The site already had some thin content on most of the pages we looked at here, but our team expanded and optimized these pages upon beginning the SEO campaign.
  • We performed a redesign of the site to improve and simplify many factors, SEO and otherwise.
  • This is a local client, so traffic tends to be relatively light, as it is with most specialty local service websites.
SEO over time first case study

Fig. 1: Percentage growth in organic page entrances for 8 studied pages, as compared to pre-campaign benchmark (week 0)

We spent several weeks at the beginning of the campaign (weeks 0-22) redesigning the look and feel of the site, as well as squaring up technical issues and cleaning up bad links and citations. Content was implemented at the same time the redesign of the site was launched. Afterward, the number of entrances to the site via those pages over each following week was an average of 357% higher than it was in the weeks before content optimization.

organic page entrances by month

Fig. 2: Number of organic page entrances each month, with each page represented by a different color line.

We’ve built a lot of new pages on this site since we began our big SEO campaign changes in February 2017, so we just looked at pages that had been on the site for a while rather than new ones that we added as we continued the campaign. As you can see, there’s a big lift after the date where we implemented SEO-optimized content. We did a lot of the technical clean-up behind the scenes over the August 2016-January 2017 period so that the foundation of the site would be as clean as possible when we relaunched it with a new look and new content.

Another interesting note is that some pages performed significantly better than others – notice the dark blue line representing one page that obviously took off, while the black line representing another only saw small improvements. That’s going to happen in any SEO campaign – some pages are simply searched for more often than others. In this case, the black line is a main page speaking to commercial services, while the blue line represents a specific residential service page. In this client’s industry, a lot more people are searching for residential services than commercial ones, so we weren’t surprised to see a lot more growth on the residential page.

So how long did SEO take to work for this site?

From the time frame when we launched the core content implementations, SEO results tended to grow more impressive each month. The biggest jumps in growth, when compared to our benchmark monthly entrances, occurred 1 month after the initial improvements, where entrances were ~200% higher than benchmark, and saw more growth about 8-9 months after implementation.

growth in organic page entrances

Fig. 3: Percentage growth in organic page entrances over 8 studied pages, by month, as compared to pre-campaign benchmark.

Case #2: Ecommerce in a Niche Industry

Next, I looked at a slightly different scenario. This client’s website is a large ecommerce store that offers many products in a high-dollar, high-demand niche industry.

For our SEO strategy, we focused on strengthening this client’s content resources, mostly on product category pages. By indicating to search engines what each category was offering, we hoped to see an improvement in rankings as a reward for providing more information.

Some factors playing into how long SEO took to work for this site:

  • This website contained little to no content before the SEO campaign began.
  • The site is quite large, containing hundreds of categories and subcategories of products.
  • The domain has been operational for a relatively long time, giving it a great amount of authority.
  • No SEO practices had previously been pursued on the site.
  • Traffic levels are very high on this site.
  • The client has pursued SEO for a shorter time – 7 months.
percentage growth of organic entrances

Fig. 4: Percentage growth of organic entrances over 5 studied pages, as compared to pre-campaign benchmark.

After adding optimized content to 5 core product categories, we saw an average of 164.53% more organic entrances to the site each week through these pages.

I noticed that one of the pages I studied was a serious outlier. “Page Z”, as I’ll call it, performed significantly better after adding content than the other four pages did, though those four pages still performed far above benchmark.

organic entrance comparison

Fig. 5: Total number of organic entrances to Page Z (blue) as compared to the total number of organic entrances to the other 4 studied pages (orange)

Page Z saw entrance numbers that were, on average, 204.39% higher than its pre-campaign number of entrances, while the other four pages averaged about 44% higher each month than the benchmark. While all 5 pages represent a great improvement for this short time period, the outlier is an incredibly high performer!

Since the site previously had little to no content for search engines to crawl, we suspected that search engines weren’t truly getting the best understanding of what each page was offering shoppers, and therefore wasn’t ranking the pages all that well in the search results. Once we added some optimized content to these 5 top-priority, high-traffic product category pages, we saw huge growth. From May (pre-SEO) to July 2017 alone, there was a 79.1% increase in entrances through these pages, and the rest of 2017 saw weekly entrances to these pages about 165% higher than before the campaign started.

In Page Z’s case, there is a ton of relevant search volume that the page simply wasn’t capturing before we added content, because Google didn’t fully understand the offerings of the page without written content. Once we added content, results showed up almost immediately.

So how long did SEO take to work for this site?

combined organic entrances

Fig. 6: Percentage growth in organic page entrances over all 5 studied pages, by month, as compared to pre-campaign benchmark

With this site, we’ve only been running the campaign for a bit over 6 months now, so time will tell how much more growth we’ll get over the next few months. The reason I chose this client to look at, despite the short time period, is that some of the pages we observed performed incredibly well once content was added to the page.

The boost in entrances to the site via this single product category was as close to “instant” as exists in the SEO world. Why? Well, it’s never possible to be 100% sure, but this is a big site on an established domain that receives thousands of visits a day. It already held pretty good authority and has a healthy amount of good backlinks. For big, established sites, the time frame of SEO results may be a little shorter – in this case, big gains only 1-2 months in.

Case #3: Blog Post Performance on the Leverage Marketing Website

I also looked at the performance of content on this very site to get an idea of how long SEO efforts were taking to work for our site – in this case, how long it takes our articles to gain value and show up in the search results. We decided to look at some of our top-performing blog posts from the past couple of years to see how long it took for content pieces to really take off.

Some factors playing into how long SEO took to work for this site:

  • These blog articles aren’t being posted in a vacuum – we’re always updating other things on (and off) our site.
  • We obviously didn’t post every one of these studied blog posts at one time, so I compared their progress by the time for which the article has been published on the site – not the exact dates, but the time elapsed.
  • We only looked at brand-new blog posts for these numbers – these are our top-performing posts excluding posts that were older and updated by a member of our team. The effect of making changes to content is not comparable to creating all-new content, so refurbished content performance is another SEO analysis for another day!
organic growth of Leverage blogs

Fig. 7: Percentage growth of organic entrances over 13 studied blog posts, as compared to the first full month of having published each page. (“Month 1” is the first incomplete month of blog’s existence, “Month 2” is first full benchmarked month)

The percentage of improvement from the first full month of each blog post’s existence is notable – out of 13 of our top-performing new blog posts, we saw an average of 691% more entrances to the site via those posts than the month they were published.

So how long did SEO take to work for this site?

The biggest average improvement from initial entrance measurements were around the 7th and 8th month since the blog was published, and again around the post’s one-year anniversary. We did see growth right off the bat, as with the other cases, but it took over half a year to see things REALLY pick up.

To get an even better idea of how these blog posts affected the SEO results on our site, we also looked at what effect these blog posts had on the site overall. To do this, we compared three things:

  • Percentage growth in organic entrances to the site as they are now (orange)
  • Organic entrances to the site not counting the entrances via the 13 blogs we looked at in this analysis (blue)
  • Organic entrances to the site without any of our blogging efforts counted (gray)
site entrance benchmark

Fig. 8: Percentage growth in total entrances to any page of the LM site, as compared to a benchmark in August 2016

The most interesting note here is how much our digital marketing blogs have contributed to the growth of our site. If we hadn’t started focusing more on adding content about digital marketing on our blog’s site, the organic entrances to our site wouldn’t have grown nearly as much – or possibly even at all. Again, this test is somewhat impossible to truly recreate, as each page of our site affects the health of the others, so it’s hard to say that the entrances to our site really would have been looking like those sad gray bars. However, it is clear that our blogging matters – to the long-term health of our site, our company, and our readers. (Don’t believe it? I wrote more about why blogging matters here)

What Does It All Mean?

So how long will you have to wait for SEO to start working and for those newly-optimized pages to start driving big growth to your site? The answer is the same here as in other aspects of SEO: it depends.

I’m not going to tell you that you’re always going to need to wait 8 months to see big jumps in results, like we did in Case 1 and Case 3 – because as we saw in Case 2, the time frame for SEO results isn’t always that long! On the other hand, I would never advise you to expect certain results in month 1 or 2, because as we saw in Case 3, our posts saw very few organic entrances until long after that. If we’d given up and deleted them in month 3 (or not even posted them at all), imagine all that traffic we would’ve missed out on!

The Disclaimer

Don’t forget: there is no secret SEO success formula. Optimizing content and adding it to your site may not always be enough – if your site has a lot of underlying technical issues that are preventing or hampering indexation, affecting the way your page renders to search engines or users, or causing users to bounce off your site, all the content optimization in the world isn’t going to really impact your site as much as you’d like it to. Sometimes, we SEO analysts find ourselves fixing many problems clients didn’t even know they had, but that were hurting their rankings badly.

Content itself isn’t really an easy win either – if you optimize your content for too many or too few keywords, use keywords that aren’t quite the right fit, or optimize without a clear strategy, you aren’t going to see results, and you might even run into site penalizations for trying to “trick” search engines.

If you’re waiting on your current SEO strategy to start driving results, it’s possible that it’s just going to be a long game – but it’s more likely that you should think about bringing in the experts to make sure your time and money are being maximized the way they should be. Getting a holistic and detailed review of your site’s current SEO standing can help not only get your site on the right track, but can also help you uncover the underlying problems that may be holding it back.

So, how quickly does SEO work? Work with Leverage and find out for yourself.

Special thanks to my fellow Leverage Marketing analysts Michael Holeman, Dan Valle, and Madeline Jacobson for pitching in some of their time and brainpower for this article!

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