Why is Short-term SEO Not Right For Your Clients

Do your clients regularly ask you for first page rankings on the search results?

Do you, as an SEO professional, often struggle to find a fitting response to your client’s unrealistic expectations for guaranteed results or quick first page rankings?

Do you find it difficult to convince your clients that SEO is a long-term thing?

If the answer to all the above questions is ‘Yes’, then you’re at the right place.

It is natural for clients to ask some guarantee of results or a timeline when hiring you as their SEO company or service provider, after all, they are paying you for this service, and it is their right to ask the same, or at least they think it is.

But that does not mean that you have to make any unrealistic promises to your SEO clients.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is an unpredictable thing at best. No one, not even Google, can guarantee that a certain website or page will rank for a particular keyword with certain strategies. So, the best you can do is make the right SEO strategy, implement it in the most effective way possible, and then wait.

SEO, if done correctly, is a long-term thing which will take some time to show definite results.

Frustrating, right?

So, how much time we are talking about here? How long will it take for your SEO efforts to start working?

Well, according to Josh Steimle, it may take anywhere between a few months to even a few years for your SEO to start showing results, depending on things like the age and authority of your website, current SEO status, content quality, user-friendliness, link profile, and more.

But how to convince the clients?

Well, that’s the real deal, isn’t it?

Covincing clients in a way that they trust you and choose to hire you as an SEO service provider, even when you’re not offering any guarantee or promises, is a tricky thing. And you might need help with that.

So, here are some proven ways to convince your clients that short-term SEO is not actually the right thing for their long-term businesses.

But, first thing first.

What is Short-term SEO?

To be honest, there is no such thing.

SEO, by its nature, is a time-independent process which involves promoting the website and business in such a way as to bring traffic that actually converts. This is only possible via “natural” link building and carefully crafted SEO strategies, which take time to show results.

However, today, as the markets are becoming quite competitive and businesses are getting impatient to see quicker results in the form of search engine rankings, the term short-term SEO has emerged.

In the simplest terms, short-term SEO refers to the process of changing and implementing your SEO strategies based on frequent algorithm changes by the search engines. This involves analysing a new search engine algorithm update and then making changes in your SEO efforts to get back the lost rankings. While this may sound like a good enough deal, it is actually not.

Why is short-term SEO not good for a business?

Short-term SEO can only give you short-term results in terms of temporary search engine rankings, which will last only as long as there is no next algorithm update. Since these SEO efforts are focused on dealing with particular algorithm changes, there is no guarantee that they will continue to work with the next updates as well.

And then, there is the dark truth of the online marketing industry.

Since there is no legitimate way to gain good search engine results faster, most SEO individuals take the help of bad SEO techniques, also known as black-hat SEO.

As the name suggests, black-hat SEO is the process of using illegitimate practices to achieve high rankings faster. This involves keyword stuffing, link farming, hidden text & links, duplicate content, cloaking, comment spamming, article spinning, and more.

As you can see, the sole purpose of black-hat SEO, or short-term SEO, is to get quick search engine rankings, which might make your clients happy in the short term, but you will eventually lose those clients, and most importantly, their trust.

I hope you have got all the explanation you need to understand why your SEO goal should be long-term and permanent results and not short-term rankings.

Now, comes the most important part.

How to explain this to your clients

Even if you, as a professional, understand that short-term SEO is not good for your client’s business and good/permanent search engine results will take time, how do you expect to make your clients understand the same?

Here are a few things you can try.

SEO is no longer just about rankings

Gone are the days when you could have achieved good traffic and leads simply by ranking well in search engines.

Today, with Google favoring results based on user intent, it is no longer that simple to convert those high ranking into traffic or leads. Today, leads are more important than rankings or even traffic.

Explain to your clients that their primary SEO goal should be getting leads and conversions, and not just high rankings. #1 position in search engines is certainly a good way to generate traffic, but it does not guarantee that users will actually click your link or the traffic will convert into sales.

ROI matters, Traffic doesn’t

It is possible that even if your website is ranking on the first page of Google for all of its top keywords and your business is getting a lot of traffic that way, you may still not get a lot of sales or ROI or convertible leads.


Because your website is not optimized for conversion.

Therefore, your primary focus should be the ROI (return on investment), which is not the same thing as traffic or ranking. To achieve good ROI, you should focus on converting the upcoming traffic into conversions and sales.

Basically, it is all about how much your website/business ROI has increased because of your SEO efforts.

What Traffic (Results) clients can expect and when

Do not keep your clients in the dark when it comes to SEO results. If someone is paying you for a service, they are liable to get to know about the results.

So, you should be very frank and clear about what realistic traffic or results the client should expect to see and when. For all you know, your client might be expecting to see their keywords on the first page in a matter of a month or so. But as we know, this is not possible.

So, you should straightforwardly tell them that it will take time for your SEO efforts to bring results. And there is no way to exactly define that time. Sometimes, it may take a few weeks and other times it will take months before you see any noticeable results.

Explain the SEO Timeline (Roadmap) to them

As I mentioned above, the right SEO strategy will take time to show results, but those results will be definite and kind of permanent. You can explain this to your clients by showing them how SEO actually works and how the results come.

Month 1: Planning, keyword research, SEO strategy building, on-page optimisation

Month 2: On-page (technical) SEO continues with website auditing and renovation (as and how needed). Start of link building. No results so far.

Month 3: Link building continues, involving high-quality content creation, articles, blogging, newsletters, product copies, social media posts, etc. Results may start to appear in terms of improvement in rankings.

Month 4: Link building, with the aim to build a healthy link profile, continues. You can start seeing improvements in rankings as well as website traffic and leads.

Month 5: Along with link building, you start using social media to improve customer engagement and increase the reach of your link building efforts. By this time, you should see traffic coming from both search engines and social sites (direct traffic).

Again, this is not a definite SEO timeline. It is simply guesswork inspired by past trends.

There is no guarantee in SEO

“Do not make promises that you cannot keep.”

Now is the time for being honest. No one can guarantee results in SEO, at least not in a specific time frame.

If it is a good client who has any idea of how SEO actually works, they will understand and give you the time you need to show results. But if it is a bad client who is simply after rankings and looking for a guarantee, it is better to say goodbye now than regret later.


Short-term SEO might get rankings for your targeted keywords and even bring traffic to your website in the short term, but it will never get you the ROI or conversions that you should actually seek.

If your client’s long term business goals include leads, conversions and sales in order to produce good returns on investment, they should not opt for short-term SEO.

Need to discuss it with an SEO expert? Contact us now to schedule a meeting. We will analyse your website for free and provide you with the best SEO recommendations and services.

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