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Why SEO is a Slow Process for Sponsored Content Articles

October 6th, 2022 | 5 min. read

By Claire Charlton

Why SEO is a Slow Process for Sponsored Content Articles

If you do a quick Google search for "how long does it take SEO to work," what do you think the results will be? Spoiler: About 4-12 months — leaning towards the upper end.

That can feel frustrating, especially when your marketing strategy includes high-quality sponsored content articles that answer questions people are searching for. 

After 15+ years in the "spon con" business, Zoe Marketing & Communications understands this tension. Even when our clients know their spon con is about branding and "takes time," it can feel disappointing to see limited traction after a month or two.

What exactly is the deal? In this blog we'll unravel this annoying conundrum, covering:

  • 6 reasons Google's "crawlers" need time to find your content

  • Why it takes a good 4-12 months (and more) to gain traction

  • What you can see at the 1- and 2-month marks

  • The "boosting" benefits of strategic promotions and backlinks

  • How keeping content relevant, interesting, high-quality and consistent helps

  • The bottom-line reason for spon con

You'll walk away with a deeper sense of (and respect for!) how Google's SEO works. And you'll see how your results will only improve with a "slow and steady" approach.

6 reasons Google's 'crawlers' need time to find your content

There's an inherent challenge when it comes to Google finding your stories organically. Search engines are ever-evolving, and their algorithms are highly nuanced. That makes it tricky, particularly if you're newer to the content game.

Here are six top factors that can pump those brakes.

1. It's a process

Google Search is constantly searching the web for new, quality content. And there's a lot of content out there. It's a three-part process:

  • Crawling: Google uses sophisticated software to find out what exists on the web.

  • Indexing: Google processes and analyzes the content on the pages it finds.

  • Serving search results: Google's machines serve up the "highest quality and most relevant" results to searchers.

Generally, Google "crawls" a website every 4-30 days (more often if the site's more active).

2. You've got competition

Whatever you're writing about, other folks have, too. Depending on your industry, there might be many similar stories that already rank high in Google's SERP (search engine results pages).

In these cases, plenty of people have already flocked to these pages, increasing their esteem in Google's "eyes." Plus, those pages likely have the benefit of SEO pros pitching in.

3. You're a new kid on the block

Another factor: Websites that have existed longer tend to have more "weight." So, if your URL is newer and you're publishing your own content, this can add another layer of delay. 

(That's where publishing your spon con with an agency/media company can be a boon.)

4. You're building up and experimenting

It takes a while to get "into the heads" of people who are Googling to find answers to their problems. Sometimes they don't even fully know what their problems are.

That's why trying different things makes sense — and keeping your quality and quantity high. One piece of content won't cut it. Think long-term and keep coming up with helpful information that builds the trust of your prospects (and Google).

5. You don't have many backlinks

Google also rewards your site if it's "linked to" by other high-quality websites. This takes time and work (even reaching out to other sites).

6. There's high 'keyword difficulty'

Each article focuses on specific keywords. Ultimately — given the factors above — Google generates "difficulty" numbers for the keywords you've chosen. It's between 0 and 100.

Obviously, the higher the number, the steeper the competition. But that doesn't mean you should avoid difficulty. It just means, yet again, it can take more time to rank higher.

Why it takes a good 4-12 months (and more) to gain traction

In short, the six reasons above are common culprits. Of course, it's a very "active" waiting game; ideally, you create a consistent, steady stream of content to keep your SEO strong.

But 4-12 months is a wide range and not the whole picture. Here's a closer look.

Set a baseline

First, get cozy with your Google Analytics account (and be sure your site map is synced, so Google can find you!). See where your page views are at.

3-4 months

You might notice slight increases, especially if you're promoting your content (more about that shortly). Typically though, unless you luck out on a viral piece, it's minimal.

6-12 months

This is where you'll start seeing growth in traffic and time on page. Results may vary if you're doing content on your own site or teaming with a media partner.

Again, consistency, quality and quantity all matter. Three articles won't have the impact 6-12 or more will. Be sure to cross-link relevant articles to each other, too, to draw people in further. 

1-2 years

Again, with consistency, your SEO will have fuller steam by this point. Now's the time to consider updating "older" articles. See what's performing well and think of related angles that may drive more traffic.

What you can see at the 1- and 2-month marks

It all depends on your longevity, content quality, audience size and existing SEO. That said, it's wisest to peek at your Google Analytics with low expectations.

At Zoe, it's not uncommon for clients to fetch a few hundred page views at these early stages; up to 1,000 for more established clients. This content publishes at Metro Parent and Chicago Parent, our regional media companies in metro Detroit and Chicagoland.

Again, though, take this with a grain of salt. In fact, we don't even send out our first reports until three months after a series of stories publishes. It takes time.

The 'boosting' benefits of strategic promotions and backlinks

Promote your content

Google makes it clear: You can't pay for it to crawl your site more often or boost your rankings. But you can advertise with Google Ads to help people find your content.

Search campaigns are one example. These text-based ads appear when folks search for content related to your services. Display ads, which are designed, are another option.

Besides search engine marketing, other ways to build traffic to your site include:

  • Newsletters

  • Dedicated emails

  • Social media (organic and paid)

Again, set a baseline and track your progress. For paid promotions, be consistent and observe your results for 1-3 months before deciding to dial back, stop or shift your spending.

Pursue those backlinks

Again, this is when other reputable websites link to your valuable content. Part of it is time; part is courting specific websites (once you have some traction going).

How keeping content relevant, interesting, high-quality and consistent helps

These four seemingly simple but hugely important factors keep your SEO growing.

1. Make your content relevant

Content marketing is more about relevance than numbers. Is your content timely? Engaging? If something's not working, how can you change it up to please Google? Are you considering your potential clients' search intent?

2. Keep your content interesting

Are people interested in your content? Spon con is like a first date. If all you talk about is yourself, you'll never get to the second date. Instead, keep it focused on their needs. Educate them. Entertain them, too! Show a little personality.

3. Create high-quality content

Answer the questions your prospects are most likely to ask and provide top-notch information to help them. Make it about them — not about you.

4. Generate content consistently

Keep at it. Whether once a month or several times a week, create a schedule and stick to it. It's a lot of work, but it builds your SEO meaningfully.

The bottom-line reason for spon con

Remember, sponsored content isn't "quick advertising." The goal is to build up your "EAT" — expertise, authority and trustworthiness. It's about providing good information people can use without trying to sell your services blatantly.

Long-term, that trust is exactly what Google rewards in the SEO realm.

What are my next steps to boost my spon con's SEO power?

Building SEO takes time. In this blog, we broke down the whys — and offered some tips to guide your SEO in the right direction.

You now know six reasons SEO is slow-going, including Google's process, content competition and the inherent trial-and-error of writing. We then dissected why it takes 4-12 months (and beyond) to build traction — and what you can see at 1-2 months (hint: not much).

Then, we shifted to the importance of promotions like Google Ads and backlinks. We shared four ways to keep your SEO heading skyward (i.e., keeping content relevant, interesting, high-quality and consistent). And, finally, we noted that spon con is all about building trust.

Looking for a media-partner boost for your sponsored content? Talk to your advisor at Zoe Marketing & Communications. We can apply our 15+ years of experience to help reach your SEO goals, slowly but surely.

Still exploring? Dig in deeper to discover:

Claire Charlton

An enthusiastic storyteller, Claire Charlton focuses on delivering top client service as a content editor for Zoe Marketing & Communications. In her 20+ years of experience, she has written extensively and is keen on new tech and podcast hosting.