Jan 12 2013

There’s an unspoken rule that hangs around SEO companies, and it’s one to be taken very seriously by the novice SEO marketer. It’s called the three month rule. It applies to many parts of your SEO campaign and holds universal truths throughout.

  • First of all, if you’ve been working on SEO tactics daily and they’re not converting after three months—CHANGE your tactics. Three months is more than enough time for the search engines to notice your new content. If they still haven’t noticed it after then, you’re doing something wrong.
  • If you leave your off-page SEO for more than three months, your rankings might drop. This is due to continuous SEO by your competitors, changes in SEO practices, and the general lack of fresh content on your sites. If your sites become stagnant, the search engines will notice after three months.
  • If you experience very positive results after three months from a particular SEO practice, you can safely assume that it works. At this point, you can apply the knowledge you’ve learned from trial and error and include it in other parts of your campaign to improve your stats. Even if it’s just a targeted phrase that is causing great conversions—it’s worth using in the future.

The three month rule is a safety parameter for testing SEO techniques. While some marketers will claim that websites or content can’t be indexed that quickly, that’s nonsense. If you grab the attention of the search engines using quality SEO and content marketing tactics, all content can be indexed by then.

At this point you can make adjustments to your SEO campaign. Collect all of your analytics data, and adjust it after three months of trial, error, and observation. It’s a great rule to live by if you find yourself short of time and can only just keep up with the demands of your small content campaign.

If on the other hand you’re working with an SEO firm, then request monthly reports and compare them over three months. This is enough time to check for conclusive proof that their efforts are, in fact, working in your favor.

At the end of the year, you can check all the main points and changes against your four dominant reports (compiled every three months) and make deductions based on that.

As long as you understand that search engines will find, read, and index your content in three months, you can use this rule as a benchmark for testing, reporting, and campaign management. If you realize that your content isn’t being seen during this time, then your SEO tactics are not working. Period.

Yes, give your strategies time to mature, but keep the three month SEO rule in mind. Search engines are smarter than people think, and you can excuse bad practices and poor SEO away by delaying the results timeframe. At the end of the day, three months is more than enough. Use it or lose it!

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