Are You on an SEO Honeymoon?

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I don’t know whether you ever get this thought when touring the web, but there are some sites that I think ‘I wish I could get my hands on it!’…where you can see that SEO hasn’t even been given a second thought, but where great gains could be made from a few simple improvements! 

This would be the honeymoon period: simple changes and fast results.

Honeymoon: Fast Results

I know I have seen and worked on a number of sites where I can see that a couple of relatively straight-forward changes would make a huge difference…

Simple changes and fast results can be from things like:

  • Title tag optimisation
  • Semantically structuring the text on each page
  • Dropping images for CSS and floating text
  • Internal linking structures and anchor text optimisation
  • Installing an analytics package (and analysing the results of course).
  • Keyword research and analysis – site-wide and page-by-page
  • Including a clear call-to-action

…the simplicity of implementing these examples naturally varies, and might quite obviously depend on the CMS’s versatility, for instance but these are examples of items to look out for.

Honeymoon: An Untapped Resource

So, OK, you take on a new project…what happens next?  Some sites have a whole host of resources and a genuine USP that nobody knows about…whereby the owners have followed the principle ‘build-it and they will come’!  Well, it’s not always as simple as that, so a little bit of promo and improved onsite management could go a long way.  The results from this might be impressive but how are you going to sustain them and naturally manage this client relationship.  The SEO honeymoon period could have a sting in the tail.  So what can you do about it?

The honeymoon is over

You’ve made the site more accessible, you’ve tackled some duplicate content issues, the site is developing a clearer landing page strategy, the keyword research is paying off and the results have been tremendous in such little time…now the real work begins! 

You now need to ensure that you can maintain a return on investment that warrants keeping you in a job. 

Educate the client in the process

If you want to enjoy the SEO honeymoon period, ensure that you are placing resources into the longer-term results with these kind of sites.  How are you going to take advantage of this increased visibility?  How are you going to keep up the momentum and build this into the planning with the client?  Here are a few ideas…

  • How does SEO, social media, link-building, online PR etc  work together for longevity of results?  How will the results look in 6, 12, 24 months…can you even begin to lay down targets here?
  • Expectations management –some quick wins but these should not be devalued just because they were quick.  The long-term results will be where the real profits (for both parties) are made.
  • What you are reporting on and how this can feed in to planning decisions.

Transparency in Result Aspirations: Good and Bad

Talk them through the initial quick-wins.  Be honest.  Maintaining credible and justified results through transparent planning is a great way to develop your client relationship. 

An adverse example of this is taking on a client with an unhealthy amount of Text Link Ads in their link-profile, and gradually phasing them out at but at the expense of some short-term losses. 

Budgetary management

Following the honeymoon period, results may slow and as a result reducing CPA’s (cost per account / purchase / sign-up) may stall.  It’s worth being mindful of this early-on because it will help work out where your budgets are best aligned to maintain some of this growth.  Ploughing all your budgets in to front-end activity, without planning for when and where longer-term results will come from could be disastrous for longer-term CPA’s and end the honeymoon period with a thump, as you’re kicked out of bed.  This naturally depends on a regular review of which account metrics are the short-term and long-term priority.

Importantly though, be proactive. 

You can work to build more momentum with this growth and extend your honeymoon period.  Just because you see some easy results coming your way, you can quite easily maintain this growth in results (if the niche has the volume), if you remember one thing…visibility breeds visibility

So, ask yourself, how are you going to capitalise on this increased exposure?

An increase in the volumes and frequency of the people that see you in the SERPs means a greater brand awareness, the more people that talk about your brand, and the more people that cite your website.  Easy.  Both traditional and digital forms of marketing work on this cumulative, multiplier principle.

Oh, but in reality…

Even the fast results don’t come easily.  Taking on a new client, involves a great deal of work for both a freelance SEO consultant and a team of SEO’s working on behalf of corporate clients.  At the very least you need to put time into:

  • Aligning, integrating and understanding each other’s data, management systems and analysis techniques.
  • Agreeing on targets, strategy and tactics.
  • And merging two (often) very different cultural worlds.

…so this whole SEO Honeymoon period is over-rated right?  Well, no, not really…great results are of course very achievable quite quickly, but they’re even greater if you can put a plan in place to maintain their growth, that’s all.

Are you suffering from a honeymoon hangover?  Put yourself down as an ‘Anon’ and share your thoughts below…

Ben McKay is a SEO Manager for Mediaedge:cia / WPP,  and writes about managing SEO and social media projects over at his blog, Just Me and My.  Say hello to Ben on Twitter.

Ben McKay
Ben writes about managing SEO and the ever growing joys of consulting on SEJ and his blog, Just Me and My. He's an organiser of... Read Full Bio
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  • Ed

    very nice article… I’ve read many SEO articles that try and lay the groundwork for “Honeymooners”, but this one speaks volumes! Great job of explaining the time involved in SEO and actually getting results. I think that is one of the largest misconceptions taht people have now days.

    – Ed

  • Robert

    Thanks for a good article, but what do you mean by “Semantically structuring the text..”?

  • Anup

    Excellent article! We went past our honeymoon stage for both ourselves and our long standing clients. We are now at that stage where every possibility of improvement comes as a blessing.
    One area where the honeymoon never ends is building comprehensive content and optimising it!

  • Ben McKay

    Hi Ed, thanks for your comment and the nice words.

    Robert, the reference to semantically structuring text, is simply using h1-h6 in cascading order of importance for each of your headings, using strong/emphasis appropriately, etc…I hope that helps!

    Thanks guys,


  • Ben McKay

    Anup, maybe you need to ‘spice things up’! Maybe add a little sparkle to your efforts with a spot of linkbait, a widget or some targeted social media activity. That way you could add another dimension to your efforts and add value to your client from another skill-set…?

    Thanks for commenting.


  • Web Templates

    Gotta say – Bing has been a bit of a honeymoon. Seeing traffic from there without any effort. I wish Google would adopt their algo 😉

  • Barry Welford

    Great analogy with the notion of a honeymoon, Ben. It also leads into the way of keeping the excitement going. It’s not just the website but the company’s marketing efforts with its clients. No company can afford to be Same Old, Same Old. How do you keep the excitement in the relationship?

    An effective blog is a great way of letting everyone know of the new and exciting things the company is doing. You also need to be aware of the new opportunities for communicating via social media. The Internet is such an exciting place that you’ll be left behind by the competition if you are not always looking out for new ways of serving your clients.

  • Ben McKay

    Hi Barry,

    Thanks for commenting, and for the kind words.

    I totally agree…I think at the first stab of a SEO relationship – it’s rare to see all the elements of marketing together for the benefit of organic visibility, so that immediately provides a long list of channels that can be optimised. These might include traditional forms of media such as TV, radio or press…

    But looking forward too, we can see new social media channels emerging all the time – some successful, some not – but ultimately with these are the kind of options that can add an extra spark to a SEO / social media campaign.

    Optimisation for the benefit of search engines needn’t start and stop with a website or it’s links…all channels can be looked at for the benefit of online visibility, organic click-throughs and conversions in my opinion…but this naturally takes some time to evolve into the client-agency/consultant relationship.

    Cool comment, thanks for that.


  • Michael Freeman

    I understand the honeymoon analogy but that implies an intent for a long-term relationship.

    To me the relationship is much more like a patient/doctor relationship.

    In many cases the job of the consultant is to get the quick wins (heal a sick website or organization), help build the structrues for ongoing improvement (recomendations for changes in lifestyle, habits or exercise, etc…) , but then to move on to other clients (next appointment…the doctor will see you now).

    Perhaps the patient will come back for periodic checkups or other related ailments.

  • Jeffrey Romano

    Well done on the article. I totally feel the same way about websites which are begging to be optimized but which I do not have access to. With just a few hours work, a big difference could be made and higher rankings achieved. This is not true for every unoptimized site, but many nonetheless.

  • anyup

    nice word , thanks for share.

  • Harrison Schmidt

    “Visibility breeds visibility” , good point. It’s never too late for a website to start doing seo.


    Nice article. I agree with most everything said. The only point I didn’t quite understand was Robert’s question which you did explain.

  • Ben McKay

    @Michael Freeman, I totally understand that each client-agency/consultant relationship can be quite different. In this case, I’m naturally talking about ongoing relationships but an adhoc visit to the SEO doctors could be all that a website owner requests, but not necessarily needs…in this case you could apply the analogy to a short-lived honeymoon, where those great, fast results are seen in one fell swoop!

    Thanks for commenting. 🙂

    @ASK SEO, I’m unclear on what you’re asking – do you want to know more about semantic html?

  • sujit

    firstly thnx for a nice post, I think “Semantically structuring the text..” you are pointing About LSI ( least semantics indexes), just optimizing with all pages Semantically creating a good impact in front of search engine & visitors too.

  • Michel Leconte

    Hello Ben,

    thanks for the article. Funny, because it appeared that not that many agencies actually gave serious thought about this. I’ve actually graphed the agency/client relationship and when the relationship gets into the jeopardy area at:
    It can be found in context on this page:

    From our research, clients have a hard time implementing recommendations; that delays are frequent; or that educating clients about the SEO process and consulting with their technical team is time consuming. All of these factors drive customer satisfaction down, resulting in lost potential revenues for both agencies and customers over time. Also, the SEO business environment is becoming increasingly competitive. I think one needs to clearly differentiate their SEM firm by using customer-facing tools that reminds clients of the unique value being brought to the table beyond the initial “honey moon” period.

  • Samster

    great view to share…we really learned few things out of it.

  • sm911

    Thanks for this advanced informative article. We got something from SEO Honeymoon 🙂

  • Orangy

    SEO can get consistently drive large amounts of traffic to a site able to deliver consistently hot content..
    Orangy – The Sweet Sour Tangy Taste of Life

  • Steven Clayton Fan

    Fantastic article! I’ve just discovered this website and after a friend of mine who is also involved in SEO gave me the link. The information in this article is great and I’ve just added you to my favorites list!
    Whenever I buy a new website or look back at one I havent touched for 4 – 5 years Im always shocked at the massive improvements I can make in a short period of time. Even by changing the tiltle and H1 tags alone Ive often jumped from around 30 to the top 10 in google.

  • Alex

    Great article and very good honeymoon analogy. Sometimes it is hard to work once the honeymoon is over if your client doesn’t have a defined strategy.

  • Ben McKay

    Pleased you each found value in it. 🙂

  • Christophe BENOIT

    I made a translation (with somes modifications) of your post for my french readers :