We are asked just about every day by a member of our SEO reseller program, when will the rankings for client X improve? Yes, everyone is impatient. I know this is a universal truth in business, but in SEO it seem particularly pronounced. Usually we can tell our SEO resellers that SEO takes months or years not days or weeks. If you are pursuing any keyword phrase worth having, it is going to be competitive. This means there are 10 other firms just like you out there trying to rank on the same term. That's the bad news.

The good news is that usually we see incremental progress on a keyword phrase as the SEO efforts are progressing. This allows the SEO reseller to say to their client, "we know you are not where you want to be, but look at this fabulous progress on your terms." This is helpful. It inspires the SEO client to stay with the program and hang in there.

But what do you do with this SEO pattern?

Funky SEO data

Remember, in the world of SERPs (Search Engine Ranking Position), lower is better. If you have position 1, you are in the first slot of page 1 in Google. Sometimes know as the "money spot." If you are in position 24, you are the 4th listing on page 2. As we all know, very few people go past page 1 when searching. Almost nobody goes to page 3. This picture is a plot of the position of this client on one specific search phrase in Google over time. This is real client data, sanitized to respect client confidentiality.

So in this picture above we have a really odd progression. The SEO for this client is actually trending poorly over time. The search engine position for this client on this specific term is slipping - or going up. This is exactly the opposite of what we want to happen. Usually we see a nice trend in the OTHER DIRECTION. Then, over the last few days we have this amazing reversal of fortune and the SEO for this client screams up to page 1 for this target keyword phrase. Why has this happened?

Well, the truth is that nobody really knows what happened other than Google, and they are in no position to comment. But my best theory is that we landed a great link through our SEO efforts. And while we had been building links and content for several months prior to this amazing jump, somehow the picture was not complete in Google's eyes. Something was missing from the SEO puzzle that justified a page 1 placement for this client. And then over the last few days Google determined that all the pieces were there and moved them, rather quickly, up to page 1.

I've written about funky SEO patterns before, such as the extreme bounces in SEO positions that some sites see. Perhaps that will play out in the SEO for this site. We will certainly continue to track it.

But I feel there is a deeper lesson here. The take-away is that you really don't know how the path to page 1 will look. While it may feel like faith is the operative word - it isn't. It is actually science. We are dealing with an algorithm here. Stick to those strategies well all know work well - high quality links and high quality content. What is really needed is stamina and determination. As the graph above demonstrates (as does this one), when you look back and analyze the data you may see that your path to page 1 was not a straight line, but good SEO will get you there in the end. This is particularly important for members of our SEO reseller program to remember on a bad day when customers are calling looking for results. If you are confronted with one of those customers, remember this graph and get back to work.