Importance of Setting Realistic SEO Expectations

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SEO is long term process so you need to understand realities & how to set SEO expectations.

This lesson teaches you what’s possible and not possible in SEO.

Normally this type of lesson is most often ignored in SEO basics.

However having a clear understanding of achievable SEO goals, expectations and myths is important for SEO success.

Why Understanding SEO Realities is Important?

Let’s take a look at why understanding SEO realities are important:

For Your-self: When you are learning SEO for yourself, setting realistic SEO goals will help you to stay on course, keep you motivated and plan your resources effectively.

When Hiring: Sometimes just to get your order someone might make fake promises but when you have a clear understanding of SEO realities then you know whether it is true and achievable.

When Selling: If you are planning to offer SEO services for your clients then you can educate your clients on achievable SEO goals and not mislead them unknowingly.

Realities of SEO

Now let’s take a look at some of the major SEO realities which every SEO marketer should know.

It’s Not Easy to Rank in Top SERP Positions

It’s most often misunderstood or misused in the SEO industry.

Most of the time ranking on top SERP positions takes significant time, effort and resources.

When you build a new website or optimize a webpage for SEO for the first time, there are already dozens or hundreds of websites that have been doing SEO for years and search engines trust them to keep them at top SERP positions.

Therefore, you have to perform better SEO than all of them to convince search engines to rank your website higher than them where the process is not going to be easy.

TIP: Ranking time varies based on multiple factors such as keyword competition, industry websites SEO, your site SEO stats, and more.

Realistic Time Frame for Ranking

Here’s an estimate from my experiences regarding time frame for ranking when you do SEO effectively:

Low Competition Search Queries

If your SEO competition is really low where your competitors do not do SEO at all or do a very poor job then you may be able to rank in the search engine top spots within 1-3 months.

Medium Competition Queries

If your target search queries have moderate SEO competition where some competitors perform good SEO, but most do not then you might be able to achieve higher rankings in 3-6 months.

Hard Competition Queries

If your targeted search query has high SEO competition and most of your competitors are doing solid SEO & some are doing good enough SEO; then search engine rankings can be expected within 6-12 months.

Highest Difficulty Search Queries

If all your competitors are actively doing excellent SEO for years then you expect SEO ranking in no less than 12 months.

Again, these are not fixed, and any number of factors can alter the time frame, but these are reasonable estimates to keep in mind.

Additionally, you can shorten the time frame of ranking by investing more resources like time and money.

However, remember that if you want to appear natural, you need to maintain the growth; otherwise, it will appear unnatural, and search engines may negatively affect your website.

SEO is Not a One-time Process

SEO process is not a series of one-time steps.

SEO is a continuous process that involves optimization of on-site website factors & outside ranking factors.

You have to continually perform SEO to ensure that your competitors don’t overtake you and you retain your top rankings.

There are valid reason why some people might assume it’s a one-time process:

  • If there is very little SEO competition, then you can rank with just on-page SEO optimization.
  • OR If you have an extremely high SEO-powered website, you are more likely to rank for low to medium competition search queries with little or no SEO effort. 

Therefore, you need to understand that SEO requires continuous effort to achieve and maintain SERP rankings.

On-page SEO is Not Enough for Competitive Keywords

As we discussed in our search engine optimization chapter, SEO is a 4 step process.

It consists of Keyword research, On-page SEO optimization, Off-page SEO optimization & SERP Maintenance.

You can only get away with good keyword research and on-page SEO when your target market is not competitive.

Generally to get better rankings, solid SEO work will be needed on the four major areas of search engine optimization.

SEO Can Cost You

SEO optimization can be done for free, but it has many limitations

Now let’s see the reasons on how SEO can cost you:


For example, when we do keyword research, paid tools will get us data faster & accurate, whereas free SEO tools will provide limited data, and will require more manual research.

Complete Metrics

Whether it’s for keyword research or off-page SEO, relying solely on free solutions will not provide complete data for SEO and sometimes it’s not possible at all.

High Competition

Popular industries tend to have highly difficult SEO competiton since all your competitors know the return on investment for top ranking so they invest lot of time, money, and premium SEO resources, so you won’t be able to compete or beat them by just using free resources in a short amount of time or without investing a lot of resources.

Inaccurate Data Will Lead to Failure

Optimizing an SEO campaign using insufficient or inaccurate data can lead to a lot of mistakes.

For example: choosing the wrong target keywords will make the entire SEO process useless.

This does not mean any data from free SEO tools is wrong but with a limited database or features set it might mislead you.

Outreach Can Be Expensive

There so many outreach techniques and you need to work on them smartly since your SEO competitors will also outreach a lot.

There will always be some expense involved when you are doing link building, outreach, and partnerships.

For example: Sponsoring an event or paying for press release submissions or paying for software to outreach, and more.

This does mean in order to outreach you need to pay instead most time there will some kind of cost directly or indirectly.

More Traffic Does Not Mean More Profits

When it comes to SEO, search intent and targeted traffic are more important than search volume.

I mentioned this in my SEO trends video too, and I will discuss this in my free keyword research course too in detail.

You will get fewer conversions from search traffic that is not targeted compared to traffic that is targeted even if the search volume is lower.

Therefore, do not mistake more search traffic for greater profits instead focus on intent and understanding your target audience’s mindset.

Search Engine Optimization is Not Risk-free

It would be impossible for search engines to evaluate each site using humans, so they rely on their automated search algorithms, use AI & cutting-edge tech.

It aims to identify websites that misuse SEO or use spammy practices and negatively affect them on search rankings as we learned in our search algorithm & penalty lesson.

So don’t forget that any process you do for SEO has a risk and if do something wrong then it can negatively impact your website.


You need to stay aware of these SEO truths, there many such truths but these are common ones that I see get misunderstood all the time.

Now with these truths and understanding of realities, you can set achievable goals for SEO and stay motivated.

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