Many of our SEO resellers often ask us "how long does it take to get to page 1" for a specific term. They are eager to offer search engine marketing that really works. Of course, Google tells the SEO community not to make promises about page 1 rankings. We work hard to abide by this direction. Instead, we often share previous client results (with permission, of course) with members of our SEO reseller program. We let them draw their own conclusions about our SEO - which is for the best.

But what do you do when the SEO results look like this graph? How do you explain this pattern to your search engine marketing client? First, let's step back and describe what we are seeing here. On the Y-axis is the position of this term in Google. On the X-axis is time. On April 17 the website we were tracking was at position 500. That's around page 50 in Google. Not great SEO. Very few people scroll to page 50.

Odd SEO ranking pattern

And over time our search engine marketing was working as the term was slowly climbing up the rankings. By May we were somewhere on page 45ish. Positive movement. But then look what happened to our SEO on May 18th. We jumped straight to page 1 for a while. This is about the time we got a call from an SEO reseller saying "great job." We were on page 1 for a few weeks and then returned up the 40's. Then the angry SEO reseller calls again to say "what happened?" Then again in July our SEO took a significant jump back up to page 2. Again we held this ranking for a while, but returned back to our original trend. We did this a third time in September - another major SEO spike, with a round-trip back. Frustrating? Perhaps. Each time you wonder if you are going to hold the great SEO position. But each time, we returned back to a poor search ranking. Search engine marketing can be confusing.

But take a look at the SEO search ranking graph again with a trend line superimposed.

Odd SEO ranking pattern

Here you see a pronounced, declining trend line, just as you would want for any term that you are targeting. This is actually good news for your search engine marketing campaign. The site in this picture is behaving appropriately. High-quality, unique content is having the appropriate impact. Link-building at appropriate, high-authority websites is also working. My advice in this situation is to ignore the day-to-day noise in the system and focus on the long-term trends. Perhaps Google was testing your site on those round-trip visits to page 1. Perhaps this data was collected from different regions and this site performs very well in certain localities. Whatever the real explanation, the SEO on this site is working, you just need to be patient and it will get there. Keep cranking out the useful content and secure links from as many similar sites as you can that make sense. Changes you make today may not impact your SEO rankings for 30-90 days. Remember that the journey to page 1 is long and can be funky.