How to Avoid SEO Latency and Get Leads Sales and Customers Right Away

What’s the difference between boiling an egg and hitting first page in Google?

About 2 minutes.

Okay, jokes aside, let’s talk about one of the most common frustrations for both SEO professionals and business owners alike, when it comes to investing towards SEO.

SEO latency.

What is SEO latency?

SEO latency is a term I made up last Sunday whilst eating a cheese sandwich and watching cartoons, and with any luck, Rand Fishkin might give it a mention in one of his upcoming Whiteboard Friday videos. But seriously, “seo latency” is a simple definition of the amount of time it usually takes between beginning an SEO campaign, and actually seeing any sort of results.

That being, when hands hit keyboards to when that squiggly line starts moving in the right direction in the clients monthly report.

In any case, SEO latency is real, it’s a nuisance, and it can often mean the difference between a business owner staying onboard with an agency, or getting “twitchy” and bailing out early.

Let’s face it, business owners forking out $1,500+ a month for high end SEO services can get a bit anxious when the needle doesn’t start to move after a few months. This certainly isn’t always the case, but it does happen.


A frequently annoying question

Almost every new prospect I speak with, asks me one of the following questions –

  • “How long will it take to hit first page, John?”
  • “John, how long before we start seeing results?”
  • “John, if we don’t see results in 3 months, then we’ll have to cancel out because we won’t be able to afford it”
  • “We understand that SEO takes time, but is there any way we could speed it up somehow?”

I can understand why business owners ask this question, but man I hate hearing it.

The reason I find it frustrating is that it’s almost impossible to answer. It’s like asking, “If I threw an open bag of marshmallows into the air, which ones would hit the ground first – pink or white?”

It’s near impossible to answer with any accuracy, and to be honest, it would be really uncool of me to try. I’d hate to tell a potential client, “Sure, this looks straight forward, you will definitely see results by 9:30 next Tuesday”.

Two main problems

There are two problems that I see –

  1. Impatience
  2. Complete misconception

Firstly, let’s talk about impatience.

This shouldn’t take long

Impatience comes about when clients have huge expectations that aren’t realistic. I spoke about this once before when addressing why many SEO campaigns fail – due to expectation gaps. You can read about that article here (I recommend it)

The problem stems from the client wanting near immediate results, which in the SEO world, simply doesn’t happen. Don’t get me wrong, not all clients are like this, but there certainly are quite a few. Typically these are clients that –

  • Don’t understand how SEO works
  • Don’t have adequate marketing budgets to support a proper campaign
  • Are under the pump from their managers or company directors

At the end of the day, clients like this usually burn out within the first three months because they panic. They’re not seeing results in terms of rankings, traffic, sales or leads – so they assume something is broken and apply the brakes.

The graphic below represents the clients anxiety levels, along with the call to “STOP”. Then as a result, everything grinds to a halt and ultimately the campaign goes to shit.

seo process timeline

(cartoon faces credit Matt Jones)

As unfortunate as it is, I’ve seen this quite a lot. SEO latency scares the client, and they bail. Only to try “another SEO agency” 6 weeks later – and of course the cycle repeats itself over and over again.

They do that “SEO stuff” …y’know, get you in Google or whatever

Now let’s talk about misconception.

Misconception is definitely one of the biggest contributors when it comes to clients throwing out the anchor early in an SEO campaign. They don’t understand the process, nor why it might take as long as it does – therefore, any sign of SEO latency has them yelling….

“It’s not working, quick every man for himself – save yourselves!” …then they jump overboard covered in flames. (I added the fire to make it a bit more dramatic)

No matter how much you try to educate some clients, they still insists on emailing you every 5 minutes, asking for “updates”. (cue shaking of the head here) But honestly, for some business owners, having to throw thousands of dollars at SEO can be a stressful experience – especially small business owners that understand the importance of SEO, but are stretched to make it work financially.

The problem simply comes as a lack of understanding of what’s actually involved.

Before I go any further, let’s take a look at how some clients might view the SEO process.

seo process simplified

Unfortunately the actual process can often look like this…


Clients want results, fast

I’m not about to tell you anything you don’t already know, but guess what? – clients want the best results as quickly as possible.

Let’s look at it firstly from the clients perspective. In every case, business owners share the same concerns –

  • They know in advance there’s no guarantees, which increases the risk
  • There’s this element of “unknowns” in what’s actually going to happen
  • They’re desperately concerned that they might lose their money altogether, or get ripped off

Now let’s ask the question….

“How can the client get results right now, without having to wait months for an ROI?”

A viable solution

There really is only one real viable solution here to reduce SEO latency, and that is to implement paid traffic in conjunction with your SEO.

This strategy involves turning on paid traffic straight away, and running it until your organic SEO begins to eventually replace it – OR running it indefinitely. Of course this takes time, but it works, and what’s best is that your paid traffic efforts can actually save you time and money because you’ll have access to analytical data about which terms are actually bringing about conversions.

Another great point to consider is that so long as your paid traffic campaigns are setup correctly, they can infact fund your SEO efforts – it’s a win win.

Have a look at the diagram below.

I can’t afford that

A lot of business owners might be reading this and thinking, “Yeah that sounds all well and good John, but honestly, I’m flat out just being able to afford SEO, let alone paid traffic on top”.

Here’s the kicker – run your paid traffic earlier in the process. Establish positive cashflow first, THEN implement SEO. It really is a no brainer. Of course you don’t want to be pushing big money into having to continually fund paid traffic, and that’s where SEO (free traffic) comes in.

What are your thoughts? Agree, disagree, don’t like cheese sandwiches?

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