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SEO won't bring instant gratification so see it as an investment
If you've been doing SEO for a little while, you already know there is no such thing as instant gratification in this field of work. You may rank quickly for a long-tailed keyword, something with no competition, but that only shows you the work you've been doing is taking hold. You'll still need to log countless hours, work late, get up early, track everything, and make sure you're on top of the rankings in 6 months lol. When doing SEO you need to see it as an investment, not something you're going to make money from right away, and you'll understand it's purpose better than 99.9% of buyers out there.
Over the last 15+ years, I've worked with countless clients, and a majority of them usually thought that SEO was an overnight success type of trick that would make them rich. Well, that's not the case at all, and I would have to break it down for them before they ever signed up. I would usually hear "Well, this other company said they could get me ranked in a few days!" and my rebuttal was always "Then why are we having this conversation?". I'm probably the first person who will turn away a client because of them not fully understanding what they are purchasing. I don't want to deal with them later on down the road, worrying about a chargeback, and having to send them to collections because I didn't rank them within the week for a difficult keyword lol.
SEO takes months or years to do right
This isn't a type of job that gets you noticed right away for outstanding work. It takes at least six months in a small industry with a low competition before you'll start holding your place on top of the Google searches. If you're in a much more competitive niche you likely won't crack the first page for at least a year, but you'll be able to track your rankings going up with some basic keyword trackers, and that's usually good enough to get a pat on the back from your boss lol.
There are some industries/niches that take years to crack into the top rankings, and that's if you're working with a team of specialists that know what they're doing, so you need to understand this isn't a quick type of marketing and branding
You get what you pay for
A while back when I would have the "Buy Now" buttons on my site so a visitor could buy a pre-set SEO package, I would always get tickets or emails saying "I can pay half this price and rank in a week" and I always told those people to buy that and come back so I can fix it later lol.
Someone can pay $10 for some "high quality backlinks" and rank for some low-level keywords, but it's not likely that small service will rank you for your main keywords. You'll need to do your SEO as well as pay for specific services if you want to be competitive. You need to remember that a cheap service will usually provide cheap results that won't last long.
You might need a dedicated SEO team
Like I mentioned above, sometimes you'll need an entire team doing the work if you want to see results. I remember a while back when a credit company hired me to do their SEO, and they canceled within three months without talking with me. I eventually got a hold of them via email, and they said "You weren't providing top rankings, so we canceled your services," and I laughed. I responded with "I told you it would take 6-9 months to see any positive movement since you were in an extremely competitive niche. You agreed to this, here's a screenshot of your agreement, and now I'll be sending you to collections".
Having a dedicated team will help you go up the rankings quicker, but it's still not a magic bullet to the top of Google, so please understand that quality work takes time. You should be getting reports and talking with the SEO team every week so you, know what's going on. If you don't see anything moving, up or down, you might not be getting any work done.
Have a timeline and watch your rankings
Knowing where you started and where you want to go is something you should always be tracking when it comes to SEO. You shouldn't use your timeline as a way to determine if an SEO company is doing the right amount of work, but you should use it as a way to track your progress throughout the months. I do this as more of a timeline to look back on and not something to look forward to, which isn't a timeline but a chart that shows what's been going on, but a reverse timeline sounds so much better lol.
Mark where you were when you started your SEO adventure, markdown where you want to be at month 1, month 2, month 3, etc. and see where you land when you hit those months. If you're doing better than expected, that's great, but you can't get yourself down if you don't hit the goals you set for yourself. SEO is tough, ranking for specific keywords is tough, and a tough niche is going to fight you when it comes to rankings.
SEO takes time, but you can work your way to the top if you have patience and persistence. If you're outsourcing your SEO tasks to freelancers or a team of people, be sure to track everything on your own, and be sure the work is getting done by receiving weekly updates and reports. Don't expect overnight results when it comes to SEO because that will never happen. Instead, watch your three month, six month, nine month, and 12 month goals to see where you're at compared to where you started
Thanks for reading