Search Engine Optimization: Expectations vs. Reality

When jumping into the world of digital marketing and search engine optimization (or “SEO”), it’s easy to fall prey to misconceptions. SEO has had a tumultuous history—some people have taken advantage of others with it, and others have peddled lies to discredit it. But it’s not impossible to sort these things out. In this article, we’ll talk about SEO expectations versus reality. There’s often a huge gulf between these two things.

Expectation: SEO is effective immediately.

Reality: SEO is an investment.

First things first: let’s bust this myth. SEO is not an instant fix. It is not as simple as writing content, slapping it on a website, and having the clicks roll in.

Repeat after us: SEO is an investment.

And we mean this both literally and figuratively. SEO is not only time-consuming to set up, but it also requires regular monitoring and adjusting. It is an ever-changing area of the web. As algorithms become more sophisticated, so does the process of ranking websites. SEO companies have known this for a long time, and they build a strategy based on current trends, knowledge, and site compliance.

All of this means that SEO is complicated and it takes time to get the process right. We promise keyword ranking after 60 days—and this is a good goal for the initial results. But given more time, we can refine and improve keywords and strategies. So let’s remember that SEO is an investment and it will never, EVER work in just a few hours.

Expectation: You must maintain keyword density.

Reality: Search engines are smart enough to figure out content.

This is an old method of optimization that just doesn’t seem to go away. A long time ago, when the algorithms weren’t quite as sophisticated as they are now, keyword density was a major factor in search engines being able to determine what the content was about. People would “stuff” keywords into content, even if it was awkward to read or difficult to fit in grammatically. While it’s still important to include your targeted keywords and key phrases, it is absolutely not necessary to hit a certain percentage or density of keywords within the content.

Expectation: I’ll rank on page one and have tons of site traffic.

Reality: Local search is only one component of site traffic.

Ranking on page one is exciting. It means that when people search for keywords related to your business, you are showing up in an area where they are likely to click.

But before you get your expectations up too high, we have something to tell you:

Local search is only one component of SEO.

First, even if you are getting lots of new clicks to your site, that doesn’t mean that people will stay on your site. This is because there are other important ranking factors, including bounce rate, which is how long people stay on your page before clicking away, and load time, which also directly affects bounce rate. You can read more about that here.

Another factor to consider is your site’s design and usability. Is it attractively designed? Is it relevant and easy to navigate? If not, people will find it to be unhelpful, and they aren’t likely to stick around to browse products or find out more pertinent information about your business.

As you can see, there are many factors beyond ranking on page one. However, securing that coveted spot is a great start to seeing increased site traffic. You just need to make sure that people get the information they need, and you’re far more likely to remain on page one for a long time to come.

Expectation: If I am smart about social media, I’ll go viral and make millions!

Reality: Social media is a great tool, but you’re not likely to go viral.

We all know about the instances where companies made a video to advertise their services—and it happened to go viral. Somehow, if we could only recreate that recipe for success, then we’d have tons of visitors to our site, and so many people would decide to use our services.


Well, it’s not that easy. Viral videos are usually popular by chance. They happen to strike the right chords with an audience, then it’s more likely to be shared many times over. There really is no specific formula to create this success, or even to recreate it—many people make one viral video and then can’t seem to replicate it.

It’s more effective to keep making social media content regularly. Try to make it high-quality and shareable, and eventually, you’ll have people naturally engaged with your work.

Expectation: On-site SEO is sufficient for ranking.

Reality: Social media, reviews, backlinks, directories, and metadata are all equally as important.

On-site SEO is a crucial component to ranking in the search engines, there’s no doubt about it. But, as we’ve discussed in this article, it isn’t the only thing affecting your overall SEO score. People need to be interested in your site and using your site for the search engines to value it.

A local business needs to be listed properly online, with all the correct information—address, website, phone number, hours, etc.—for search engines to find it useful.

Metadata, or data included in the code of your website to help search engines rank your site more easily, is necessary in today’s busy world of competitors.

Backlinks also play a role in telling search engines that your site is in demand—backlinks are simply links from other sites to yours, and if other sites want to link to you, then you must be doing something right! Social media creates interest and provides external links back to your site as well.

Finally, reviews play a major role in local business success—without reviews, search engines find your site less appealing than those with a lot of reviews. Think about it: would you rather go to a restaurant with 100 reviews and an average rating of 4.3 stars, or one with no reviews at all? The choice is easy.

So, how can you transform these expectations into reality? Simply work with SEO experts to make your site as appealing as possible. We can teach you methods to promote your site and get the most out of your online experience. As digital marketing experts, we love to help our clients—contact us to find out more information about our affordable packages!

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