Everyone wants their website to be found on the first page of the search engine results immediately and they want 100 phone calls per day of cold new business. Me too! But websites and search do not work that way, unless you want to throw in a huge investment.

Before you embark on your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) journey, have realistic expectations, and if you hire the right people to do it, you’ll be pleased with the results.

1. It takes time.

Yes. It really does. If you want solid SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for your company or organization’s website, don’t expect to make real gains for the first 4-6 months. (If you’re not willing to invest in the service for at leas that long, it will be a waste of money and you might as well not do it at all.) This is dependent on the competitiveness of your industry, of course, but patience is key. SEO is a lot like an airplane. It takes a lot of fuel and effort and time to reach the optimal altitude. So does this mean you can stop after you’re on top of the search engine results? See the next truth.

2. It really does need to be an ongoing effort.

One you’ve hit the top spots for your desired keywords, you might think you can be complacent and stop your SEO efforts because now the airplane is at 30,000 feet and you can take off your seat belt. Sure, you won’t drop out of the sky, but exactly like an airplane, if you don’t keep it going by constantly honing, adding content, making adjustments, it will run out of fuel and slowly start falling position by position, page by page until you are out of sight, and have to start the process over again, needing another 4-6 months to get back up to the top.

3. You should not decide your important keywords.

Optimizing your website for keywords and key phrases for which you think people are searching, is total shot in the dark. SEO professionals have access to tools which query Google’s actual massive stores of data, so you can find out the keywords that are actually being searched in high volume. These are the keywords for which you need to optimize.

4. Pay Per Click might be necessary.

If you’re in an industry that is highly competitive, SEO might not be cost effective. For example, if you’re a Realtor, chances are there are 10,000+ other realtors in your state, but there are only 10 spots on the homepage of Google. In this case, your money is better spent on pay-per-click. to find out how competitive your industry really is, your SEO adviser can find out for you.

5. Content is king.

A great looking, fast loading, easy to use website is great, but what do you think Google grabs on to for those keywords and phrases? Words. Content. Verbiage. Whatever you want to call it. This is the gold of Search Engine Optimization. Web pages with 300 words or more catch the search engine’s eye. The more the better. Search engines look for websites that are relevant to what the searcher is looking for, so the more in-depth, original information your website has, the better.

6. You have to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

Everyone needs to be able to read and understand your website. Everyone. Even those who are shall we say, “intellectually less fortunate” need to understand your website. The lower the grade-level your writing, the better for SEO. Tools such as the Flesch Reading Calculator can scan your content and tell you what grade-level can read it. In other words, the dumb- .. the simpler the better.

7. You need to play by the rules.

Don’t try to trick the search engines, and don’t hire anyone who doesn’t expressly use “White Hat” techniques. Anything else is called “Black Hat” and it involves using trickery and dishonest practices which quite frankly don’t even work anymore. The search engines have gotten wise to these tactics. There used to be a trick called “3 way linking” where 3 websites would link to each other in a chain, to appear that they were all one-way linked to the next (one way links boost SEO because it’s like someone was vouching for you and asking nothing in return). I’ve seen this and other techniques literally get websites blacklisted from Google. That means you disappear, and in most cases, so does your business.

8. Always leverage Local SEO.

Local SEO means getting your local business listings all populated and in sync. There are 3rd party services that will aggregate your data to all of those business directories and make sure your name, address and phone numbers (NAPs) are all in sync. These are called “citations” and the more in sync you are, the more the search engines see you as legitimate and relevant. These listings also provide backlinks to your website which boost your overall domain authority, making it easier to search engine optimize your content.

9. Go for National Rankings.

While you’re externally boosting your local SEO standings, you might as well internally (on-page) go for national rankings. If you can become #1 on Google for “Copier Leasing Company” nationally, imagine what your local searches will yield. Shoot for the moon. It will have better overall results everywhere!

10. You’re going to pay for it.

There’s no getting around it. You’re going to pay for it. You’ll pay for it with money, or you’ll pay for it with your time, which is also money. If you don’t hire someone who knows what they are doing, and you go it alone, you’ll put hours and hours into it, not only doing what we (SEO professionals) do, but also learning HOW to do it. So not only will it cost you more in time, but it’ll take you even longer to get to your goal (see Truth #1) which will cost you even MORE money. Choose the path that is the most optimized use of your time and money. After all, Search Engine Optimization specialists understand what optimization is.