SEO Can Take Months: A Hard Lesson in Planning Ahead

Back in 2008, Bob got laid off from his full-time desk job during the economic downturn. Frustrated with the corporate world and itching for more independence, he decided to strike out on his own and do something that he loves: working with his hands. He always had a strong work ethic and often found himself cutting down trees and planting bushes for friends and family, so he figured, “Why not open my own landscaping business?” The following year, Bob made a minuscule living while his wife’s nursing job covered the majority of their household expenses. That’s usually how the first year of owning a brand-new business goes. Over the next several years, he tried out some advertising on his own to boost his business. He made a small website and a Facebook page, posted flyers, and distributed his business card. Business picked up a little bit, but it wasn’t enough. Four years later, in 2012, his wife told him that their finances were getting too tight and that they needed to be saving more money. After all, they wanted to be able to send their kids to college some day soon. Bob’s phone still wasn’t ringing much come springtime, when he should have been getting slammed with landscaping jobs, so he hired an online advertiser. The advertiser, realizing that Bob needed jobs immediately, fixed Bob up with an expensive pay-per-click (PPC) campaign and promoted Bob’s Landscaping on various business directories and social media. As a result, Bob’s phone did ring with more jobs; however, the jobs weren’t pouring in like he’d hoped, and he found himself having to book jobs with flaky customers who often cancelled their services at the last minute or wound up not being able to pay in full. Not only was Bob frustrated, but he was also hemorrhaging money. Finally, at the end of 2013, his wife’s voice of reason chimed in. She told him that they couldn’t keep losing money every year: There was college tuition and a mortgage to think about. He would have one final year to turn the business around, or else they would have to shut it down for good. This agreement lit a fire under Bob, and that very same night he started researching other advertising options. That’s when he came across search engine optimization, or SEO. The next morning, he found and called a reputable advertising provider, who explained that SEO usually takes about three to four months to start producing measurable numbers of leads. That meant Bob’s Landscaping would start receiving good quantities of leads right around April—the start of Bob’s busy season! He signed up and, sure enough, come springtime, Bob’s phone was ringing off the hook. This time, he was able to book contracts early in the season with reliable customers who actually planned ahead. This was the type of customer he’d always wanted but was rarely able to find. Even to this day, instead of having to take any flimsy job that comes his way, he’s able to cherry-pick those enviable customers and turn down jobs that don’t seem worth the service call. His company’s finances are on the upswing, and he’s been able to keep his doors open ever since. In short, Bob is exceedingly glad that he set up his SEO during his business’s downtime.

The Early Bird Gets the Worm

That’s the moral of this story: If you want to become like Bob and be able to cherry-pick quality customers, then you need to plan your advertising well in advance. By giving yourself a good three months for your web presence and SEO to ramp up, you won’t miss out on those valuable, early contracts. Plus, those early jobs could easily become lifelong customers if they’re satisfied with your work.

The Sooner You Act, the More You Save

When you plan your advertising in advance, not only will you get higher quality leads, but you’ll get them for a much better price. That’s because you won’t have to go into an advertising frenzy at the eleventh hour in order to get enough leads to sustain you through your busy season. For example, let’s say you want to get 50 calls per month from May through July.

  • If you sign up for SEO in January, you’ll be able to reach that goal and pay roughly $300-$500 per month.
  • If you sign up for SEO in February, you’ll be able to reach that goal only if you also add a small-scale PPC campaign for one of your services. This will cost you roughly $600-$800 per month.
  • If you sign up for SEO in March, you’ll be able to reach that goal only if you also add a full-scale PPC campaign for at least two of your services. This will cost you roughly $900-$1,200 per month.

Take a look at the table below, which shows how much extra you’d have to pay if you waited to start advertising in February or March.

spending increase

In other words, if you sign up for SEO in January in anticipation of the coming spring’s busy season, then you’ll end up paying the lowest priceand you’ll probably land the better customers to boot!

Learn From Bob

This year, don’t go through the hardships that Bob went through. Take a lesson from his story and skip straight to your happily-ever-after. Note: Though based on very real experiences of several of our clients, “Bob” is a fictional character presented here for instructional purposes only.