I have written about it many times, but I want to hit it again because I just think it can't be stated enough. Setting expectations appropriately is important for the success of any project. While this is a universal statement, today I specifically want to talk about it in the context of our SEO reseller program. We all know that search engine optimization is a tricky business to begin with, mostly because the level of education out there is so low. But when you abstract one level farther by introducing a reseller relationship, it get's even more complicated.
First, let's discuss SEO. There is wide consensus that SEO takes time. If you consult any popular search engine optimization forum, and I mean the ones that are frequented by real people working for real businesses, they will all tell you that time is a critical ingredient. Sure, you can jump on any spammy forum and get some dude in India to tell you he can achieve page 1 rankings in 24 hours. But I think we've covered that ground before. Any SEO that sounds too good to be true is. When you reach the seasoned search marketers, particularly those with a large client list, you find the type of calm authority that only comes with time and experience. I look for this when seeking advice. I like to think I have some myself from time-to-time - but there is still much to learn... Anyway, back on point, the posts in the forum seem to go like this:
New Member of the Forum: "I just lost my rankings and I want to know if what I did yesterday caused it? Help! I'm freaking out!"
Seasoned Long-Term SEO Forumer: "Relax. Breath. Now think back. What did you do to the site 90 days ago?"
I can't tell you how many times I've encountered an interaction that closely resembles this exchange. And we, unfortunately, get these questions from members of our SEO reseller community. They are often responsible for the onsite SEO, so it is natural for them to worry about the changes they are making and their impact on the search engine rankings.
The moral of the story here is TIME. And when you sell through our SEO reseller program, we are going to emphasize the importance of time in the search engine optimization process. White hat SEO just takes time. This is why we favor an initial contract period of 90 days. We want a commitment from our customers (and our SEO resellers) that we have at least 3 months to demonstrate the quality work that we do. So where's the rub? The rub is that people seem to forget...
We get many calls 2 and 3 weeks into a program asking about the rankings. It is at this point that we sound like broken records to our seo reseller teammates. "Remember the thing about 90 days?" "Have you looked at the contract and noticed the 3 month term?" As you know, we strive for transparency throughout our entire business - and particularly in SEO. While this makes us extremely honest, it does not mean we can cheat the system. And the SEO system as it is currently set-up (by Google) requires 90 days to see substantial, sustainable results. Sure, easier terms will pop in. Sure, you should see movement before then. But any self-respecting SEO is going to tell you that trends develop in slow motion and that time is required. As you sell, it would be best to set the customer expectation appropriately.