At Prospect Genius, we work with hundreds of local business owners, and we’re often surprised to learn about the misconceptions and misunderstandings they have about online advertising. One of the most common we come across is the idea that Internet marketing should be fast. Because we hear about this false impression all the time, we thought it might be helpful to clear up some of the confusion! Speedy Ranking Is a Myth! With PPC (pay per click) online advertising it is possible to buy your way to the top quickly. However, unless you’re doing a PPC campaign, it simply isn’t realistic to expect that ANY online marketing company can get your business’s website into the number one slot on Google overnight. That’s because one of major factors Google—and all the other search engines—use when determining the value/relevancy of a website is how long it’s been on the web (with relevant content). This policy helps the search engines avoid useless SPAM sites (thousands of which pop up every day and soon disappear) and focus on quality sites instead. Unfortunately, this also means that it takes time for new, quality sites to achieve high rankings. Real World Parallels Opening a new store and starting a new website or SEO campaign have a lot in common. When you’re opening a brick-and-mortar enterprise, you first need to get the location set up and then you need to get the word out to people about your new shop. Just like you need to make a little noise with a grand opening and/or advertising campaign to spread the word when you open a new store, you need to launch your website with a little fanfare so Google (and potential customers) know about it. You need to bring attention to yourself so the search engines will hear about your site and deem it worthy of inclusion in their results. And just like you can’t pull off the launch of a new store overnight, the online equivalent—starting a new website or SEO program—can’t work that fast either. That’s because every day thousands of new sites burst onto the scene and millions of sites alter their content. Google then has to visit each and every one of these sites to find out what’s new and relevant. Even though Google has almost unimaginable resources dedicated to this, it still takes time for them to locate each and every site out there. Campaign Hopping Spells Doom If you’re one of those business owners who sets a 90-day limit for results when it comes to SEO and/or lead generation, you might actually be sabotaging your chances for a strong online presence! That’s because while arbitrary 90-day windows may work fine when testing out a new Yellow Pages or print ad, they can be a major impediment to the success of an Internet marketing program. The difference is that while media like Yellow Pages and print ads already have an established distribution channel that they simply include you in, with advertising online the distribution channel has to be developed along with the ad. The benefits of this system are myriad, but it does take some time to develop. Ultimately, this means that by giving up on an SEO campaign before a proper test can be completed, you’re probably wasting lots of time and money. So unless a company tells you that three months is long enough to execute their lead generation campaign (in which case, you need to start asking some serious questions), you need to allow plenty of time for the company to implement their strategy (usually between three and six months). By sticking with an SEO company for a longer period of time, you enable them to make the minor adjustments required to ensure your lead generation campaign gets off the ground running. The Naked Truth In short, this means if you’re hopping from one SEO company to another every 90 days, your lack of results probably has more to do with your impatience than any inherent shortcomings in their lead generation programs. That’s because when you leave after 90 days, each company only has enough time to execute its standard tactics that work for most businesses. If your company has a unique location, product, business model, or other distinctive features that don’t shoehorn neatly into their boilerplate, you’re depriving the SEO company of the time they need to make the necessary adjustments to get you the best results. By the end of the year, you’ve probably spent more money on four different lead generation companies than you would have by sticking with just one company for 6-12 months and seeing if they could get you the results you deserve. But remember, it never pays off to stay with an advertising company that is unresponsive, waves away your concerns, or simply doesn’t produce the desired outcomes over time. If you’ve been with an SEO company for more than 90 days, and you aren’t seeing results, it’s time to start asking questions. If they aren’t offering to make changes to your site, distribution channels, or other parts of your campaign, that’s probably not a good sign. Statements like, “Just keep waiting,” that aren’t supported by information like feedback about changes, new directions, or other strategies to boost your performance are also warning signs. And if you hear, “It worked for everyone else,” that’s definitely a red flag. You need to stay with your lead generation company long enough for them to implement a productive SEO campaign, but if they’re not working to make changes or giving you feedback, that’s the time to jump ship and find a more reputable company. Before working with any online advertising company, we strongly advise you to do a simple Google search. A little research can help you avoid getting started with a bad egg in the first place and help make sure that you aren’t wasting your hard-earned money on ineffective or fraudulent companies. Just Google the name of the business along with the word “scam” or “complaints” and see what you get. The results invariably will be somewhat skewed due to the fact that most happy customers don’t take time to comment on the Internet, but a fast search can help you get a sense of how a company performs for their customers and whether they’re worth your time. Just be sure that you give them enough of your time to really get the SEO campaign rolling before you decide whether or not they’re a company you want to keep working with into the future!