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My son recently had surgery. It wasn’t anything too serious, but it was traumatic enough that we noticed that he behaved a little differently once it was complete, and his recovery was going to take a little time. However, as soon as he fully recovered, he would be better, stronger, faster, and overall, he would be a healthier 3-year-old than he was before.

As soon as my son came out of surgery, we noticed he was a little fuzzy on what had happened and he hurt a little bit too. He couldn’t immediately get up and play with the toys that he was playing with before-even if he wanted to. Something inside him had changed. He knew that something was different. He noticed a little pain and he was uncomfortable. But the doctor assured him, and my wife and I, that this was normal and that he would be jumping off the furniture and squashing his new little sister again, soon.

Why do I tell you this? The other day I was on a client phone call with a SEO.com colleague. The client we were meeting with was a little concerned that their site was not on the first page of Google and that they had dropped slightly in the SERPs for previous keywords they were targeting. They have only been with us for two months, so we were trying to explain that “valuable” SEO takes time. In the end, the client understood the timeframe and when results could be expected.

As a result of this experience, I realized that SEO is a lot like surgery. We receive new clients who are just plugging along, not really aware that anything is wrong with their website. After we conduct keyword research, competitive analysis and site optimization, things begin to change. And change is frequently accompanied by a measure of discomfort. In SEO we change the keyword emphasis of the pages, reconstruct the meta-tags, and a lot of the content of the website. In other words, we “operate” and begin to make some much-needed changes at the inner-workings of our clients’ websites that may, temporarily, throw their rhythm off. And just like my son, these websites will not immediately rise to the tops of the SERP’s and command Google to index and place them where they want to be immediately. They have to be rehabilitated and strengthened by a healthy, but aggressive, link-building campaign. They need constant monitoring and measuring so the site can begin to rise to the top of the first page in each search engine.

In short, SEO is like operating on a semi-healthy individual who thinks they feel OK, but after having surgery, they realize what bad shape they were in. They have to trust that the competent physician who treated them has made the correct adjustments so that they can perform to the best of their ability with the proper amount of exercise and rehabilitation.

I’m pleased to report that my 3-year-old was once again jumping off the living room couch 3 days after his surgery! I’m not promising that our clients’ sites will rebound as fast as a three-year-old, but we have had great success helping them exceed their desired goals quickly.