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Navigating SEO: How to Be Realistic with SEO Expectations

SEO Expectations

SEO and realistic expectations don't go well together. On both sides of the aisle, there are issues that harm the digital marketing campaigns of businesses across the country and cause doubts about SEO as a viable and ROI-driven service.

The problem starts with SEO vendors. For years now, the focus has been on achieving "#1 rankings" and "dominating" specific markets. Unfortunately, these claims can't be backed up, even by the largest marketing companies out there due to changes made to Google's algorithm. Some may actually be able to follow through with certain promises, but they really have no guarantee until the results actually appear. And oftentimes they don't.

Because of the claims and marketing from vendors, many businesses associate SEO with keyword rankings and other face-value metrics. Despite being advised otherwise, they simple won't take organic traffic increases, conversion rates, and other key metrics into account. Everything comes back to individual rankings, which are becoming less and less important as Google provides each user with a more customized experience.

If you're the market for SEO services, here are a few things you need to know in order to be more realistic with your expectations and hopefully find a vendor that provides quality results using the most up-to-date techniques.

Get to Know Your Market in Search

What do you know about people searching for your products or services? Is it a niche in your area or do you serve a large market with a lot of activity?

The reason this is important is your expectations are tied to your business's search visibility. If there are only 1,000 unique searches per month that relate to your business, it would be ridiculous to think that you could go from 800 to 1600 unique organic visits per month. Unless you know something the world doesn't, searches don't grow on trees.

Larger businesses have more opportunities to grow from search traffic, but that likely comes with increased competition.

Using the Adwords Keyword Planner Tool, you can look at search trends to back up or help you modify your expectations for SEO results. When there's an increase decrease in search traffic for your market, you can then cross reference that with your own analytics to see how that change has affected you.

Focus on Better Conversions, Then Traffic

When it comes to SEO, businesses tend to be really aggressive and want to see a lot of green arrows going up. That's more than understandable, but if you're struggling to see results from organic you probably have more problems than just a lack of traffic. The worst of those problems is a low conversion rate.

This means that the number of people submitting leads or purchasing directly on your site is lower than the average for related businesses. That's never good news. And sure, more traffic will help you get more leads, but you're still ignoring the elephant in the room.

Wikimotive often advises our automotive SEO clients to switch website providers in order to see better results. This is because most car dealer website platforms are years behind current web standards, so switching to a new, modern platform will not only increase conversions but immediately boost traffic as well.

If a client does not want to make a switch, however, we're still able to execute a strong SEO strategy that helps increase conversions and traffic. Our recommendations are based purely on the fact that we want clients to succeed.

Don't Even Start if You're Looking for Quick Results

Are looking to SEO because you want quick results?

This isn't an interrogation, but knowing this lets an SEO company know up front whether they're going to succeed or fail. We're all optimistic at the end of the day, but miracles are few and far between in digital marketing.

A modern, diversified SEO strategy takes at least 6 months to show real growth compared to the previous time period. Some businesses fundamentally get SEO, but others are grabbing for the dice in the hopes that everything works out.

If you want quick, easily-quantifiable results there are plenty of options out there in the digital marketing space; SEO is just not one of them. Think long and hard about that as you make plans and meet with companies.


SEO is something most businesses can find value in, especially as the world moves to doing more and more research and communication online. As long as you understand the upsides and the downsides, you should be able to bring your expectations back down to reality and hold yourselves and anyone you hire rightly accountable for success and failures. Good luck!


Originally Posted to on December 14, 2015

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