How long does SEO and content marketing take to drive results?
The consensus has been that it often takes at least 4-12 months.
But is it ever possible to get fast SEO results — say, within 3 months?
Of course, it is; several businesses have done it and this article is a case study on one of them: Flodesk.
Flodesk is an email marketing platform, especially for small businesses.
And you know what this means: they have big competitors in this industry.
To name a few, there’re MailChimp, ActiveCampaign, GetResponse, and many others.
Yet, they outranked many of these big rivals with over 1800 relevant keywords in three months.
And — get this — they did this with a brand new blog.
I know 1800 keywords may look small, but when you consider this situation, where Flodesk’s industry (email marketing) is super competitive, the blog is new, and they achieved this in three months, then you’ll likely see why this is somewhat of a big deal.
So, I’ve invited Flodesk’s Head of Marketing, Sobrina Pies Crawford, to share her approach to content marketing.
(Full disclosure here: Flodesk is a client of ours as we’re a part of their content team).
I penned eight factors that are critical to ranking on search engines and asked Sobrina to share how these factors have helped her SEO efforts for Flodesk.
Now let’s get into it!
How to get fast SEO results
Several elements go into what helps any website to rank, but these seven below have helped Flodesk and it’s typically what helps many (if not most) websites get the fastest SEO results.
1. Start with an SEO strategy
Your SEO strategy is the plan you create to drive organic traffic from search engines.
And usually, at the most basic level, it comprises these key X elements:
- A set of target keywords
- A backlink acquisition process
- A content creation process
- On-page optimization
Even if you don’t specifically have something you call an “SEO strategy,” once you have these four core elements in place, you essentially have one.
I asked Sobrina about what makes up her strategy for SEO at Flodesk, and she mirrored the same idea:
“Our strategy starts with our goal of creating a new organic acquisition channel and increasing trial sign-ups.”
“From a high level, our strategy for SEO comprises three parts:”
(1) building organic traffic from non-branded keywords by ranking for relevant keywords,
(2) increasing clicks from our blog to key landing pages, and
(3) converting these clicks to trial sign-ups.
“Our team executes on our strategy by:”
- “Identifying non-branded target keywords — We’re mindful of search volume and competitiveness, as well as the relevance to Flodesk and our ideal customer.”
- “Putting together a content creation process — we do a lot of research into what’s currently ranking for a keyword and how to improve the content. Each month, we create content briefs that our writers leverage to create high-quality, long-form blog posts. I’d highly recommend creating a standard operating procedure (SOP) on the process for when content briefs are sent out, what the review process is like, tone of voice, product-specific terminology, etc., and communicate it to everyone involved in content creation. This will help you create content faster each month.”
- “Including on-page optimization — We make sure to optimize each post before it’s published. And we revisit content frequently to update it with more internal links and tweaks as time goes on.”
- “Focusing on backlink acquisition — Each month we work to attain backlinks from relevant websites to help our content rank faster and higher in search results.”
- “Optimizing landing pages — We also look at conversion on the key landing pages we’re linking to from the blog and how to optimize conversion.”
If you’re looking to get significant results from your SEO content, this is what the process looks like.
And depending on what your content operations process and team look like, this may be complex or easy to replicate.
But it works, and that’s what’s ultimately most important.
(Author’s note: Get the good stuff below…)
2. Speed up your publishing velocity (as much as possible)
Publishing velocity is simply the frequency at which you publish new content.
And it’s especially important if you’re launching a new blog.
The faster you publish content, the quicker your chances of ranking. We typically encourage our clients to publish at least four articles a month, that’s one per week.
This way, they get more chances to rank and drive traffic from keywords potential customers are searching on Google.
Sobrina put it this way:
“If you’re just starting out with your SEO, then the faster you can get high-quality content created and published, the faster you’ll be able to start ranking for your desired keywords, bringing in organic traffic and converting visitors.”
“If you have an established SEO strategy and have been creating content for 6+ months, then I would focus more on optimizing the content you already have instead of creating more content just for the sake of publishing new content.”
But keep quality in mind.
While it’s important to publish content as fast as possible, it’s of no value to your business if no one reads it because it lacks relevance.
And this is something Sobrina has made sure of at Flodesk. The quality of content on their blog is amazing.
For instance, I received this message from someone who read one of our articles on the blog:
You get the idea: the quality of content is more important than a high rate of publishing velocity. And if you have to choose one, choose quality — it’s what ultimately gets you the business results (leads, sales, etc.) you’re looking for. And this leads to my next point.
3. Set up an A-list content team
SEO gets you the rankings and organic search traffic.
And those are super important, but what gets people converting into leads and customers is the content you’re publishing.
So you need an A-list content team.
This is a team that helps you plan and/or create content that makes your audience:
- stay on site for longer,
- check out your non-content (aka money-making) web pages,
- sign up for something before they leave (if they like what they see)
When I asked Sobrina, “what advice can you share on how to set up a great content team?” She said:
“Finding talented writers who understand your brand’s tone and voice is huge — and much harder said than done. When looking for writing talent, it’s common to ask for examples of past work.”
“But what’s helped me find writers I can trust and love working with is to take it a step further and give writers an actual paid writing project that I would typically assign to one member of our content team.”
“Doing this helps me see what it’s like working with them, the quality of their writing, and if they can deliver on our actual needs vs. completing some hypothetical writing assignment.”
“If they do a great job, then I feel much more confident entering a long-term relationship.”
“If they don’t do a good job, then I might have to have the piece re-written, which costs time and money, but at least I know we won’t be working together.”
“Once you find talented writers, hire them, or if they’re freelance, go on retainer. It frees up a lot of mental space knowing you have a reliable team dedicated to helping you each month and helps with budgeting, too.”
In a nutshell: not only do you get better results with an A-list content team, but you also get peace of mind for your mental health, which is super important in today’s world.
4. Use Google Search Console (GSC) to find opportunities
From pointing out technical issues that can harm your chances of ranking to helping you see which keywords are driving the most clicks, GSC provides a suite of benefits for SEO.
Personally, I don’t consider it a must-have tool for ranking any content fast on search engines, but it’s nice to have.
I asked Sobrina if she uses it; “We use Search Console to track queries and clicks for non-branded keywords to make sure our strategy is on track,” she said.
With the search console, you’ll get to see:
- the average position of your rankings sitewide
- which keywords drive the most search traffic
- opportunities for keywords you should rank for
- which countries drive the most search traffic for your business so you can focus on creating content relevant to them
And so on…
GSC has one major downside, though: it shows so many metrics that may not be relevant to your goals.
If you ever decide to use it, make sure to focus squarely on metrics that help you get the best results.
(Author’s note: Get the good stuff below…)
5. Pay attention to internal links
Ah, internal links!
If you’re not sure what they are, they’re links on a page to another page on the same domain.
And they’re amazing at making it easy for readers to see other pages on your site related to the content they’re consuming.
On top of that, adding internal links to your content helps Google (and other search engines) understand your site structure and easily find pages you want to rank.
What’s more? If you’re interlinking pages that are naturally relevant to each other, search engine crawlers will understand your site has in-depth information about the topics you’re publishing content about on your site. And this helps them see your site as an authority in your industry.
I asked Sobrina, “How important are internal links? Any best practices marketers should keep in mind?
“Internal links are critical for SEO. Always make sure to link to existing content whenever you get a chance (and mind your anchor text, making sure it’s relevant to the content you’re linking to). We also started creating internal links in our Help Center articles back to relevant blog posts as another linking opportunity.”
Sobrina has mentioned one key factor here: linking old pages (Help Center articles) to new pages (new blog posts). This is super important because when you link old posts that are most likely already indexed on search engines to new posts, you make it easier for Google to find those new pages and rank them.
And when you don’t do this, you might end up building lots of orphan pages — aka pages that don’t have any pages or sites linking to them, making it hard for search engines to find and index or even rank them.
Another important tip here: avoid interlinking unrelated pages just to tick off the add-internal-links checkbox. Linking unrelated pages will get you negative results:
- First, your visitors will wonder why you’ve inserted an irrelevant link to a page distracting them from content that’s relevant to them.
- Second, search engines may have a hard time understanding your site structure and the relevance of the pages you’re linking together – which may hinder your overall SEO success.
So, add internal links to your content/pages, but only do it where it’s relevant.
6. On-page optimization
On-page optimization is creating/structuring your content and overall website with elements on it that help search engines understand what it’s about — so they can deliver it to searchers looking for it.
Without on-page optimization, you’ll essentially have pages on your website that will hardly ever rank on search engines.
And if they rank, it’ll mostly be accidental and likely short-lived.
So, “what are your on-page optimization tips?” I asked Sobrina:
She said, “The best SEO advice I ever got was to keep relevance at the forefront of your content. If you’re trying to rank for a particular keyword, how can you create the most relevant piece of content for it?
“You want to be thorough, helpful, and authoritative, and you can do that by considering:
- “Search intent — What are readers hoping to find when they search for that keyword and how can you deliver on that?
- “What’s currently ranking — How can your content be better than what’s already in the #1 spot? Can you add more tips/examples or offer updated information?
- “Clarity — Make sure it’s clear what your content is all about by including your target keyword in your title, a short URL, and meta title and description. You’ll also want to make sure you’ve included relevant internal and external links, which shouldn’t be hard to do if you’ve written an exhaustive article on the topic.
Let’s break this down a bit further; you need five major simple steps for an effective on-page optimization for each piece of content you write:
- Step #1: Search intent — know why your audience is searching any keyword you’re looking to create content for.
- Step #2: Competitive analysis — see what type(s) of content Google is currently ranking for your target keyword; for example, are they mostly listicles, guides, a specific theme, etc.
We also look at the average word count of the pages ranking, so we get a better understanding of how deep we need to go writing content for each topic/keyword.
- Step #3: content structure/outline — know what major points to cover in your subheading. We typically outline major points to cover and then look at competing content to see what other points they’re covering that we aren’t.
- Step #4: URL structure — have your target keyword in the URL of your published content. This helps search engine crawlers to further understand your page is targeting that keyword.
- Step #5: Meta title & description — this one’s a staple at this point. Make your meta title not over 60 characters and description not over 155. Google typically fits meta titles and keywords within these characters, so it’s best to follow suit as much as possible.
7. Build backlinks
Backlinks are arguably still the biggest factor search engines look at to rank your site.
You know how it works: build high-quality backlinks and search engines will see your site and webpages as trustworthy.
But marketers and SEOs have always battled with just how stressful and expensive acquiring backlinks (or link building) can get. As opposed to internal links, where you have 100% control over which content to link to on your site, acquiring backlinks requires that you get links from websites you don’t own.
We typically just refer our clients to great SEO or link-building agencies to help them solve this problem, while we focus on their content strategy and content creation.
In Flodesk’s case, they hired an SEO partner who does an awesome job with link building; Sobrina put it like this:
“Our SEO partner does an awesome job of researching credible external sources, consistently conducting outreach, and securing backlinking opportunities for us each month. As we’re such a lean organization, it’s important for us to have a reliable partner to help us with link building, as it takes a lot of time and effort.”
So, it’s best to hire an SEO agency or expert who has proven strategies they use to build backlinks.
(Author’s note: Get the good stuff below…)
8. Site structure
Site structure is another critical element in search engine optimization.
I’ll just go ahead and share Sobrina’s take here — as I couldn’t have said it better:
“In terms of site structure, you want your blog to be easy to navigate. UX plays a big role in SEO, especially with the importance of Core Web Vitals on your site’s SEO score.”
“We kept our blog structure fairly simple because what’s important is getting the reader to the content they’re looking for and presenting it in a straightforward, aesthetically pleasing manner. We also do regular tech audits on the blog to keep it optimized, relying on our SEO partner’s technical expertise for guidance as Google rolls out SEO changes consistently.”
FAQs on how to get fast SEO results
Let’s answer a few common questions on getting fast SEO results:
Which factors drive the best SEO results?
Primarily, high-quality content, content relevance to each query, backlinks, and user experience. Generally, Google looks at a combination of about 100 to 200 ranking factors before putting a page on page #1 for any search query, but the ones I’ve mentioned are what we know from experience to be the most important factors.
How can I get SEO results fast?
Start your keyword research, identify the lowest hanging fruits (aka low difficulty keywords), publish high-quality content pages and build good backlinks to them.
How fast can I expect SEO results?
Depending on the level of competition of the keywords you’re trying to rank for, you can expect your SEO results anywhere from 3 to 6 months for relatively low-competition keywords and 7 to 12 months for high-competition keywords.
SEO can take 3 months to get results or it can take 6 months. It all depends on factors like how new/old your site is, relevance and quality of content, the strength of your backlinks, and overall site structure. Hopefully, this guide will help you get started on the right path.
If you’d like us to help you plan and create content that drives not only search traffic but also revenue, see our content services page here.