For an industry that is constantly changing, SEO can move really slowly sometimes.
Don’t expect the search engines to react instantly when you change something – it can take time for spiders (the term for the software that search engines use to “crawl” the web and index sites) to find your new content and add it to the index.
There used to be legends in the SEO industry of search engines putting new domains in a “sandbox” for weeks, even months, before they would hit the index. Google now claim that their RankBrain algorithm can make real-time adjustments.
The reality is that changes do take time to affect the overall performance of your website.
SEO, Analytics, and the Butterfly Effect
Let’s say we make a change to your website that makes your search engines results better. You move up three whole places, which increases the chances of your result being clicked on by 5%. Would you notice a 5% bump in your traffic or would you ignore it?
Would you notice the 5% bump if, at the same time, a national holiday meant that searches for your the words and phrases you are targeting when down by 4% for the next week?
Big shifts do happen – content can go viral, your brand can hit the news online. But, for the most part, SEO is the art of making multiple changes and improvements, taking multiple steps, each of which will have a small incremental impact on your overall site performance that, over time, do result in a large change.
Butterfly Effect: the phenomenon whereby a minute localized change in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere.
Write everything down
This is why it is incredibly important to keep a track of what you did and when you did it. We may not notice that our click-throughs have gone up by 5% a week after we make a certain change, but a 5% increase for the entire year is much harder to miss.
The trick is being able to track back to when that improvement began and understanding why it happened.
Google Analytics has a great feature that allows you to create an annotation in your analytics, recording something that happened and when.
I encourage all my clients to use annotations to record significant events and changes when they occur so that the causation of a new trend is easy to isolate.