It’s only natural, when you start an SEO campaign, to be eager to see results. After all, you’re investing time, money and energy into making your business more visible online. But, when you become impatient, it’s easy to rush through important steps, which almost always hinders the overall success of your SEO efforts.

How can you tell the difference, though, between being ultra-efficient and rushing through SEO actions too quickly? How can you tell if your SEO isn’t working or if your campaign simply needs more time to succeed?

Here are four practical tips to keep your campaign on track and to protect it from the harm that can come from too much impatience.

Know Your Competition

Before you begin any organic SEO campaign, it’s crucial to be realistic about the pace in which you can achieve your desired keyword rankings. What’s realistic, of course, depends upon your online competition.

It may help to compare increasing your keyword rankings to a race that you run (an ironic analogy, for sure, when we’re encouraging patience). Still, the analogy can help. Let’s say, for example, you want to rank well for “commercial lawn care services.” But, plenty of competitors have been focusing on that term for quite some time. This means that, while you’re still at the starting line, they’re already further along on the racetrack.

This doesn’t mean you can’t catch up to your competitors. But, like in a foot race, one or more of these things must occur to allow you to close the gap:

  1. Your competitor quits competing and rests on its laurels; that could happen, but don’t count on that as your central SEO strategy.
  2. You run faster than your competitor; that can definitely help to close the gap, and, with SEO, you can compare running more quickly with investing more into your campaign.
  3. You run harder than your competitor; you can compare this to working harder with SEO, perhaps by using the keywords in more content than competitors.
  4. You run smarter than your competitor; this is comparable to being more strategic with your SEO campaign.

Here’s the bottom line: You must know your competition and plan your SEO strategies accordingly.

Don’t Quit

Assuming you’ve got a solid foundational strategy, you then need to be:

  • Persistent
  • Adaptable

You’ll need to test your strategies, monitor results, and tweak as needed, repeating this pattern for as long as it takes.

And, you’re probably wondering approximately how long it will take to rank for a desired keyword. Although there are no hard-and-fast answers, Ahrefs.com randomly selected two million keywords and monitored how long it took for each to rank in the top ten in Google, as well as to rank number one. Results published in 2017 are as follows:

  • The average top ten ranking took two years.
  • The average number one ranking took almost three years.

Results will vary, depending upon the levels of competition, but patience. Patience is key.

Now, to use another sports analogy (football, this time), once you reach your desired rankings, you’ll need to switch from being on the offensive, pushing hard to get the rankings, to being on the defensive. That’s because other eager companies would be happy to take your hard-earned rankings from you, and you need to protect your turf.

Don’t Let Impatience = Taking Shortcuts

Although investing more resources into your SEO can make good sense, taking shortcuts can be foolish. For example, let’s look at link building campaigns. You know that links are important to rankings and you know (by following our tip #1) your competitors have plenty of them. So, it’s tempting to be super-aggressive in getting your own.

But, when you try to get as many links as you can as fast as you can, the links probably won’t be of the best quality. And, to have a good inbound link profile, it’s important to have quality links from diverse yet relevant sources. By being too impatient, you might create a spammy link profile, which will likely do your site and business more harm than good.

Instead, create relevant, keyword-rich content that people will want to link to. Promote that content, including through reaching out to relevant influencers who might be willing to share your content, and further expand your digital reach.

Don’t Forget Local SEO

If you have a physical location, it’s crucial to also focus on local SEO strategies. For example, you might really want to get into Google’s three-pack for “pizza delivery in Miami, Florida.”

You know that getting positive Google Reviews will help your local SEO campaign — and you see that competitors have plenty more than you do. So, you figure, if your goal is to get a total of 500 reviews, then you’ll pull out all the stops and get, say, 100 reviews a month. Then, in five months, you’ll be on top of the three-pack.

Except, it doesn’t work that way.

Google tends to reward steady progress, with a sudden influx of reviews looking pretty suspicious (that’s also true with inbound links). So, instead, create a program where you regularly reach out to satisfied customers and ask each of them to write a review about your pizza and/or your delivery service. Don’t specifically ask for a good review; instead, ask the customers you believe will provide a positive one. Make it super-easy for them to do so by creating a unique link that will take them exactly where they need to go.


Although we don’t agree with the “slow” part of the “slow but steady wins the race” saying, we do strongly advocate steady progress. Successful SEO programs are well planned and consistently executed. Patience, persistence and adaptability, we believe, are what really win the race!