Search Engine Optimization: Expectations Vs. Reality

Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization is a broad and ever-changing beast and to make it even more difficult to grasp, the industry is littered with all manner of dangerous misconceptions. If you are a small business owner and you are exploring SEO for the first time, stick around and give this article a quick read; we’re going to highlight some of the most common SEO ‘expectations’ and the reality of the matter…

1. Expectation: Position #1 rankings are guaranteed

The reality is nothing in SEO is guaranteed. If you are currently in negotiations with an SEO company and they are guaranteeing you #1 rankings you should be mindful of; they’re likely full of it.

Of course, it’s easy to get a website ranking for some obscure long-tail keywords that nobody searches, however, they’re not going to make a difference to you.

Not only that but, position #1 isn’t the only viable position in a search engine results page. In fact, positions #2, #3, #4, and #5 can all bring great value to your business! Sure, being ranked #1 is the dream, but don’t make the mistake of seeing the lower positions as a total failure – after all, you should be working on dozens of valuable keywords.

2. Expectation: Results should be fast

The reality is, SEO takes a long time to fully take hold and start providing a sustainable ROI. Optimistically speaking, you could see results in as little as 3 or 4 months with a highly reputable SEO agency, however, the reality is that you may be looking at something a little closer to 6 months and beyond.

Often, it takes up to 12 months before a business is making a serious ROI from their SEO efforts. So, set realistic expectations and don’t rush! If you give up too soon you could undo all of your hard work only weeks before it starts to pay off.

3. Expectation: SEO is a one-off investment

The reality is, SEO is an on-going endeavour. So long as you are in business and you have a website to market, SEO will always be at the back of your mind.

You can spend thousands and thousands on SEO and start seeing some excellent results, however, if you put it on pause and boot your SEO company out, those rankings will invariably begin to drop as your competitors keep on running.

You have to be in it to win it!

The good news? Once your SEO campaign is up and running, you should be making far more money than you are spending.

4. Expectation: You should hire a local SEO agency 

The reality is, you can work with an SEO agency from anywhere in the world. Sure, if you are a Dallas based business, hiring a Dallas SEO agency certainly has its benefits. However, there are other more important factors for you to look for in a prospective partner before you make any commitments.

Proximity is not the be all and end all, but it doesn’t hurt.

5. Expectation: Driving more traffic to your website = more money

The reality is, driving more traffic to your website does not guarantee extra sales. As the saying goes: “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink”.

The true aim of SEO is not just to increase traffic, but to increase conversion rates – and the only way to do that is to build a pristine and well-optimized website with an intuitive user experience, compelling sales copy, and a value proposition that is simply too good to resist.


Forget everything you think you know about SEO. The only thing that you should be concerned with is hiring a reputable SEO that has a proven track record for making their clients buckets of cash via their online marketing magic.

  • Social proof is key: look to social media and research any prospective SEO agency before you sign on the dotted line. You need to ensure that their customers are saying positive things about them and that the general consensus is good.
  • 5-star reviews can’t hurt: ideally you want to work with an SEO agency that has dozens of 5-star reviews. That means that they’ve been building websites and delivering consistent results for a multitude of clients for many years – all good signs.
  • Case studies are like gold dust: to be perfectly frank, if an SEO company can’t provide you with any case studies you should run a mile. Why should you have to invest in someone on blind faith alone? Ask for the proof in the pudding!