“How long will it take us to see results?”
This is single-handedly the most common question we receive in regards to SEO projects. The problem is, it’s simply the hardest question to answer and requires a deep education on everything we’ve discussed throughout this guide. First, let’s address the considerations you’ll need to pull everything into a timeline.
If not, you’ll need to know that before anything else. It’s important to take the proper time to distinguish these whether it’s a day or a week. Remember, we love for our clients to validate keywords using paid search which can at times take 3-6 months or more depending on the industry. At SimpleTiger we typically take a week to nail down a target list of keywords for our clients based on good data and a very tight feedback loop.
So 3-6 months if you have no paid search data and 1 week if you do.
A strong technical foundation means Google can easily crawl your site and find that the average user won’t run into any issues when navigating around the site from a technical perspective. Strongly consider that most searchers are on mobile devices and this experience needs to be solid in order for this to be a “completed item” in your SEO campaign. For most clients, the technical optimization process varies from 3 months up to a year to form a stable technical foundation.
Most commonly this is 6 month timeline to complete this stage.
As we saw in the Content Strategy section of this guide, each keyword in your SEO plan needs to have adequate content on the site that best represents the keyword. What does “adequate content” mean? Ultimately, it means content that’s long enough (think word count) that it stacks up against competing content already ranking in Google. In some cases, one page isn’t enough and we’ll produce several pillar pieces of content to create a content cluster for a given keyword with each pillar addressing a smaller keyword underneath the cluster. This is a great strategy we frequently employ for clients however, it takes time and resources. Typically timeline is anywhere from 2-3 months to produce an entire content cluster for based on how many pieces need to be created.
Let’s estimate 3 months per major keyword on your target list and then multiply this by the number of major keywords you’d like to target.
Content needs to be well-written and valuable. If Google finds the content and sees that users engage with it (based on Google’s collection of clickstream data), then the content will rank well. Typically content that ranks well also has links pointing to it, making it more competitive for the given keyword. It’s important to know what that threshold of links are pointing to each piece of content that dominates the results for your target keyword. Next, perform the same level of analysis for any keyword you’d like to rank for. Ultimately you’ll uncover how many links need to be built to your sites’ content once it’s published and then build those. It typically takes about a month to build almost any reasonable number of links (usually between 2 links to a couple dozen links) needed for a piece of content so long as the content is published.
For this reason, you could add a month for every piece of content that needs to be published on your site.
Using this high-level estimation based on each different step in the SEO process, the results timeline is highly dependent on several moving parts and that it’s more a dynamic system than a straight shot between action and results. If we consider a company that has 10 major target keywords with strong paid search data, a poor technical foundation, needs content and links for the target keywords, we would estimate it should take about 40 months and 1 week to be able to dominate in Google for the target keywords. Now, this assumes:
You may be left scratching your head and thinking:
Why would I want to wait 40 months and 1 week to see these kinds of results?
This is a great question and I think it sets the stage perfectly for the positive side of undertaking an SEO project like this. Keep in mind that SEO is not linear and neither are the results it generates.
It can seem like an uphill battle with the different types of results you’ll see. Over time, your site will grow and so will your business through your efforts. Your position on the growth timeline will determine when you start seeing results. Some clients have seen business-changing results in a span of 2 months. Check out the case studies for Segment and JotForm for examples of this. For other clients, it may take 6-12 months to see staggering results, take a look at their case studies for more information. Most clients see their most dramatic results after a year of working on a campaign whereas satisfactory results tend to come in sooner, but compound exponentially after a year.
Is it possible to predict SEO results? Yes.
Will your prediction be perfectly accurate? No.
Is it reasonable to try to forecast SEO results before actually working on a campaign? Beyond seeing what sort of opportunities there are in organic search for your company, not really.
If it’s so tough to forecast results and know when ROI will be positive, when should you invest in SEO for your SaaS business? Ideally, you’ve been investing a little indirectly all-along by building your site on a good platform, producing content and testing ads in paid search. If you’re ready to go forward with a project, I’d anticipate seeing a positive ROI in terms of dollar-value around 1 year. There should be satisfactory results prior to that showing the trend is moving in a strong direction.
Investing in SEO with a company like SimpleTiger means you’ll be receiving not just the results from your initial spend, but assets that will hold positions of authority and act as doorways into doing business for many years to come. Keep in mind when investing in SEO, that it’s a world of its own. It’s unlike advertising where the results stop when the budget stops. The efforts and investments put into SEO are just as organic as the growth and results that come out of it. The only difference is the output is exponential and continues working far longer than the inputs.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this guide on SEO for SaaS companies and please share it if you found it useful. If you’re in a position where you’re ready to invest in SEO, get in touch and let’s set up a strategy session for your company.