The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now. – Chinese Proverb
Creating a garden and doing search engine optimisation (SEO) for your website share a lot of similarities. Both take time and dedication to grow and once they are grown they need to be maintained. So how are you going with your SEO garden?
You wouldn’t plant a seed and wake up the next day and expect to find a tree. That seed will need to have a number of factors and the right conditions to grow and survive. The right soil, the right amount of water and the right amount of sunlight are just some of the requirements for the seed to grow into a tree. Too much water or too much sun can be damaging to the seed. Using that as a metaphor, the same can be said about successful SEO. You need the right combination of favourable conditions for your website to move up the search engine rankings. Keyword placement, relevant content, keyword usage are just the beginning but too much of those and it could kill your SEO efforts.
You would never try to start a beautiful garden in a yard full of weeds. First of all you would clear the yard and make sure you are starting with a space clear of any factors that will inhibit the potential growth and survival of your garden. The equivalent in SEO is making sure your website is setup and structured properly. The initial phase does require planning and a bit of “ugly” work, but it is essential. Things like page load speed, site structure and canonical url make up this initial “clearing” stage in SEO.
Early stages and growth
Once the seed has germinated, we still don’t have a tree, but we are heading there. Is our sapling safe and guaranteed to become a tree? Not yet. We still need to keep the weeds out and fertilise around the sapling. The same stage in SEO would be the equivalent of now ranking on the search engines and perhaps even ranking in the top 20 results. Does this guarantee you will make it to the first page or even high on the first page. Not yet. We now need to make sure the pages and posts around our website are related and relevant, the equivalent of getting rid of weeds and fertilising the sapling.
We have a tree
Once you have put in all the effort to grow your garden you can now sit back a little and enjoy your efforts. But how long did it take to get to this stage? 6 months, 1 year, 2 years or even more? It takes time to get there and you can’t rush or force things to grow. You can’t completely relax either. You still need to maintain your garden by removing weeds and keeping your existing plants tidy. Let’s compare that now to SEO and the same questions are asked. It took a while to get to this stage, 6 months, perhaps 1 year or more and you couldn’t rush or force your website up the rankings. Likewise you can relax a little but you can’t relax completely. You will need to keep maintaining your website and making sure you are watching out for competitors who are going through the same stages that you worked hard to get through.
The Chinese proverb used at the top of this article can also be applied to SEO (yet slightly modified). The best time to start SEO on your website is 6 months ago. The second best time is now.