SEO: Expectations Vs Reality in 2024

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Hannah O'neill SEO Copywriter

Search engine optimisation is one of the most important marketing methods to utilise. It’s a proven strategy that can boost your organic rankings and attract more people to your website—but SEO isn’t a magic solution. 

Unfortunately, the success others have with SEO means new websites think they’ll immediately replicate the same results, which is unrealistic. 

As one of the UK’s most respected SEO agencies, we’ve seen it all in our time, and that’s why we’re sharing some common expectations and their reality for 2024. 

Let’s get straight to it. 

Expectation 1: Choosing the right keywords means my website will rank 

Keywords are an integral component of any SEO strategy—there’s no denying that. However, many believe simply having relevant keywords and injecting them into their content will secure results. 

While keywords have an impact on your organic rankings, relying on them and sacrificing other ranking factors can have a detrimental impact on your website. 

Reality: Keywords don’t define where you rank 

In the past, websites would stuff their content with relevant keywords, which initially had a positive effect—until Google stopped it. 

The Helpful Content Update changed SEO practices for the positive, with search engine algorithms factoring content quality into their web page analysis. 

Simply put, you can have the best possible keywords, but the quality of your content will ultimately define where you rank. 

Expectation 2: Getting loads of backlinks will increase domain authority

Are backlinks still important in 2024? Absolutely. Not only do they show search engines that others view your content as a helpful source, but backlinks prove your website has a solid reputation. 

So, how do you get backlinks? Many websites resort to ordering them from cheap companies or building links that search engines would consider spam. 

Reality: Quality matters more than quantity 

In the past, websites could get away with ordering backlinks and focusing on low-quality domains, but that’s no longer possible today. With search engines like Google focusing on user experience, high-quality links from authoritative domains are essential. 

The reality is that you could have hundreds of links from domains that lack authority, but a website with ten links from reputable sources will perform better. 

So, when building links, remember that quality is everything. 

Expectation 3: Investing in SEO means my website will get to 1st place on the SERPs

As an SEO agency, we see this expectation all the time. You’re paying for a service, so it should offer the best results, right? Well, you might find an agency that makes various promises, including getting you to the first page of Google. 

But can you trust these guarantees? No. 

Reality: SEO takes time 

Search engine optimisation is a highly effective strategy, and you should see progress – but expectations are often unrealistic. Any agency that tells you they’ll get you to first place on the SERPs will use unethical practices. 

Generally, it takes around four to five months for your website to begin appearing on the search results page and even longer to gain traction. 

Some posts might perform immediately, while others can take longer. Your niche makes a difference, as will your website, so it’s essential to understand that you’re investing in a long-term strategy. 

Investing in professional SEO services gives your website a solid foundation to build upon, and you will see measurable results with time. 

However, no reputable agency can guarantee you’ll get top-ranking positions because numerous factors are out of their control. 

Expectation 4: It’s all about the content and keywords 

I’ve got the right keywords, and we’re creating great content, so results will follow. That’s a common belief many people hold, but SEO requires a multi-pronged attack that incorporates numerous factors. 

You should consistently create great content that offers value to your readers, but it isn’t enough to secure long-term results. 

Reality: Your website is just as important as content 

As part of Google’s mission to put their users first, website quality is also a deciding factor in how the search engines view your online presence. There are various things Google looks at, including: 

  • Website Design: Whether the site is clean and easy to use, with superior navigational features. 
  • Page Speed: How quickly a website loads is critical, as it defines whether users can access information. 
  • Visual Stability: Also known as Cumulative Shift Layout, this metric measures the stability of your website’s visual components. 

Failing to focus on Core Web Vitals can have a negative impact on your website, as users who don’t have a great experience will go elsewhere, signalling to Google that they didn’t find what they needed. 

Expectation 5: If I do my website’s SEO, I’ll save money and get results 

Running a business is expensive—especially when focusing on growth, so it’s natural that some people try to save money. While you can probably handle some things alone, others are complex strategies requiring expertise. 

Sure, you could try and go it alone with search engine optimisation, but will you be able to secure results? 

Reality: SEO requires a lot of skill and experience 

For us SEO specialists, the most exciting thing about our jobs is that things constantly change. From different algorithms to emerging technologies, SEO is a continually evolving marketing method that requires expertise. 

Understanding how search engines operate is just one piece of the puzzle, and your success relies on an ability to adapt. 

Staying on track with SEO can be an uphill struggle when juggling numerous responsibilities. 

Aside from performing consistent audits and creating high-quality content, you’ll also need to monitor your competitors and change strategy when required. That’s why many businesses decide to outsource to specialists.

Expectation 6: SEO will immediately help me secure more customers/clients 

SEO is a marketing method that boosts your organic rankings so you can sit back, relax and wait for qualified leads to roll in. In some ways, SEO will help you secure more website visitors that can turn into customers—but it’s not a fix-all solution. 

Reality: SEO is a long-term lead-generation technique 

While SEO can help you generate organic leads, it’s more of a long-term solution. Yes, your organic rankings will increase, which means people are more likely to discover your website and want to learn more about you, but PPC is better for short-term lead generation. 

With PPC marketing, you can advertise a promotion or new product, which attracts attention and offers quick results. However, advertising is expensive, which is why marketing professionals use a combination of PPC and SEO. 

When you use advertising for short-term success and combine it with a long-term SEO strategy, you get the best of both worlds. 

How to make your SEO work overtime in 2024 

how to make your seo work overtime in 2024

SEO is ongoing, but the results far outweigh the initial investment. Numerous brands have experienced growth and staked their claim on the SERPs with a comprehensive strategy that evolves with their marketing needs. 

If you want to win with SEO, the following tips will ensure your strategy works overtime and offers results. 

Don’t rush content 

Make your audiences and the search engines love you with great content. It should be helpful, original and offer real value to readers. Remember to look at what your competitors are doing and evaluate where you can do better. 

Build quality backlinks 

There are no viable shortcuts with backlinks, so don’t risk your website by trying to expose them. Authentic backlinks are integral to your website’s success, and any reputable SEO consultant will tell you that quality matters more than quantity. 

Focus on your website 

Your website should be mobile responsive, easy to navigate and have seamless features. Check your Core Web Vitals regularly, and optimise all images to ensure users have the best possible experience. 

Utilise schema markup 

Incorporating schema markup into your website pages means your site has more chance of securing a rich snippet that will appear on the SERPS. Rich snippets are more likely to attract traffic than regular results because they demonstrate your authority. 

Don’t put your eggs in one basket 

SEO and PPC are powerful marketing strategies, but focusing on just one can be detrimental to your website. While you can achieve short-term gains with PPC, SEO is a long-term solution. Combining them gives your website more opportunities. 

The bottom line 

So, that’s about it for SEO expectations and their realities in 2024. The industry is constantly evolving, and what’s popular today might not be tomorrow. Staying up to date with algorithm changes and being willing to experiment are the keys to your success. 

If you’d like to focus on other areas of your business, Assertive is one of the UK’s leading SEO services. We can develop and implement a comprehensive strategy that moves your brand towards its goals. 

Please feel free to book a free consultation with our friendly team today.

Hannah O'neill

Hannah O'neill SEO Copywriter