As a solar copywriter and search engine optimization (SEO) consultant, this is one of the most common questions I receive – how long does SEO actually take.
Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer. You could see results tomorrow or months from now, depending on:
- The age of your site
- The competitiveness of your keywords (and industry)
- The effectiveness of your SEO strategy
- The resources you devote towards optimizing your solar energy property
Let’s look at each of these in turn to see why solar SEO is such a nebulous, misunderstood area.
How Old Is Your Site?
There was a time when new sites were automatically sandboxed by Google until they had passed a certain probation period.
What does that mean exactly?
Basically, Google would prevent these new sites from enjoying top placement in the search results until they had proven their worth. This was to prevent spammy sites – i.e. low quality websites that literally sprung up overnight to generate leads, trick search engine spiders, and/or sell useless junk.
Because older sites have more overall content and credibility, incremental improvements usually deliver better and faster results than those same improvements on a brand new site.
How Competitive Are Your Keywords?
Solar energy is an incredibly competitive field. And unless you have a new piece of disruptive technology under your sleeve, you’re probably going after the same general keywords as most everyone else in your vertical.
This makes solar SEO a real challenge. How do you rank well for “solar panels” or “solar installation training” in a sea of domestic and international competition?
Because there are so many different players out there, SEO is more of a business necessity than a competitive advantage. In other words, not optimizing your site equals death… and optimizing your site means that you “may” survive.
Said a little differently – you can’t expect immediate results from solar SEO if every other company out there is also optimizing its own site with those same keywords. The more competitive your keywords, the more time it will take to begin seeing demonstrable, measurable traction.
How Effective Is Your Solar SEO Strategy?
There are a zillion SEO shortcuts out there – tricks that the community generally refers to as “black hat SEO.” I won’t cover any of them here since black hat SEO is a waste of time. You may see some pretty spectacular traction for a brief while, but Google, Yahoo, and Bing are pretty good about detecting and punishing cheaters.
There really are no secrets in the SEO game. Strong keywords, quality content, authoritative backlinks, solid meta data, and persistence are what earn high search engine rankings. There’s a little more to it than all that, but these areas form the core pillars of effective solar SEO.
Arguably most important in this list is persistence (yes, I know, I know – “content is king….” But only if that content is frequently updated over time).
SEO is not a one-time deal. Like weight lifting or marathon training, the process is ongoing with cumulative successes stacked one after the other. Each new blog post or link added to the pile makes your site that much stronger.
So beware of any SEO consultants who offer a one-time magic pill. You might see some pretty good results, but those results WILL be temporary if you don’t keep investing.
Just think about it like this – if you start a great SEO campaign and suddenly stop while all your competitors continue… how long do you think your initial successes will last?
Steer clear of grandiose promises. Make sure you stick with the core SEO pillars above. And persevere.
How Invested Are You in Your Solar SEO Campaign?
All things being equal, whoever spends more on SEO typically wins – up to a point.
That is to say, if you hire two equally skilled SEO experts for two equally ranked sites, whichever site produces more content and backlinks will rank higher and faster.
Now what do I mean by “up to a point.”
Well, Google is pretty good about detecting spammers and cheaters. If a site has 0 backlinks on Day 1 and 1,000 backlinks on Day 2, it looks suspicious. The same goes with publishing too much content or using too many keywords on a given page.
You have to pace your solar SEO efforts. 1 blog post a day is much better than 1 blog post a month. But 5 to 10 blog posts a day may set off red flags.
There are no hard and fast rules, but my preference is to post 1-7 times a week and secure 100-250 new backlinks a month. Some sites may need a little less – others a little more.
You Haven’t Answered the Question – How Long Does Solar SEO Take?
Yes. Despite everything I’ve just said, I still haven’t told you how long SEO actually takes.
But like I mentioned above, it really depends:
- An established solar energy property with daily updated content, a strong linking campaign, and an ambitious budget can begin seeing real results within a matter of weeks – sometimes even days.
- A newer site which posts only once a week (or month), secures only a handful of links, and spends next to nothing may have to wait months, assuming they ever see results at all.
The hardest campaign I ever worked on took 4 months to begin seeing real results. This was an extremely competitive vertical with very broad keywords.
The fastest campaign I ever worked on took 20 days to achieve #1 position on Google for most of the keywords on the client’s list.
If you’re like most solar energy companies, you’re somewhere in between 20 days and 4 months. But as a general rule, you should budget several months before seeing any real traction from a truly ambitious SEO campaign. You can’t expect immediate results (and by all means, avoid anyone who promises that he or she can deliver).
Have you had different experiences with SEO? Faster? Slower? Share your thoughts down below. And don’t forget to include any tips you may have run across.