Understanding the Timeline for SEO Results: What to Expect
“How long does SEO take?” is one of the most common questions most business owners ask when considering optimizing their sites for Google.
As digital marketing experts and SEO professionals, this is one of the most complex questions. Clients want a definitive answer, and understandably so. However, there is simply no way to offer one due to all the variables to be considered.
This is because, apart from all the variables involved in optimizing your website, you must also evaluate those same factors against your competitor’s optimization efforts.
As such, an already complex question becomes infinitely more challenging to answer. So anyone with some basic SEO knowledge will immediately use the line “it depends.”
The time frame depends on key variables that help to determine how long your SEO will take to show results which are:
- Website authority
- Inbound links
Note that even with data supporting these variables, it’s still impossible to provide a one-size-fits-all answer to this question.
However, it’s common to see SEO results within the first 6 months if you partner with an experienced digital marketing agency. Contact us for faster and long-lasting SEO results for your website.
So, How Long Does SEO Take to Show Results?
As earlier mentioned, the best answer is it depends. While this is frustrating, it’s the truth. It depends on your website history (how long it’s been around), what shape the website is in, how much SEO has been done on the website previously, its link profile, how much content it has, and many other SEO factors.
It’s accurate to say there’s no definitive answer to how long it takes before your SEO efforts start producing organic improvements. However, most subject matter experts agree that it typically takes six to 12 months. By results, we mean a quantifiable increase in traffic and associated conversions or leads. This doesn’t necessarily mean achieving your goal, but any business investing in consistent SEO should expect to see progress within this period.
On average, most sites in a fairly competitive niche should see meaningful improvement within six months with a dedicated and focused SEO campaign. According to the Search Engine Journal, you might start seeing results in organic ranking and a boost in traffic for keyword topics with minimal competition in just a few weeks. However, moderately competitive phrases might take months, while highly competitive topics could take up to a year or more.
Factors You Need to Consider
No two websites are similar. Exactly how long your website would take with SEO efforts depends on various factors, as earlier mentioned. So when taking over an SEO project, its crucial to assess a few items, including:
- How established is the website, and how does it perform today?
- What kind of published content does the website already have?
- What are the current rankings for high-priority keywords, and how competitive are those keyword topics?
These and other basic questions help you understand what’s needed to get things moving.
Since SEO takes an average of 6-12 months to produce significant results, this often presents a challenge to several smaller companies that rely on or expect quicker results for business growth. That’s why it’s important to build a realistic plan and timeframe and have practical expectations.
Prioritizing speed over sustainability is costly as those methods end up hurting your site in the long run. Google automatically becomes suspicious of any site that experiences a sudden increase in traffic or ranking as it assumes you used black hat tactics.
SEO is long-term. If you want short-term, quicker gains, you should focus on other digital marketing areas, especially social advertising and paid search. For great SEO results, you must be ready for a long-term game, as it takes a lot of time and consistent effort.
SEO is not a one-time thing either, and it’s never really done. It is an ongoing process that needs long-term investment and constant attention and tweaking to the strategies implemented.
What is the Earliest You Can Expect to See Initial Results From SEO?
Different websites start from different places, even if they are in the same business industry and competing for the same potential customers. However, below is a plausible SEO scenario of what your investment and efforts might look like in the initial months and the outcomes you might expect.
Research, discovery, and analysis, comprehensive website audit, keyword research, and planning. With quick research and analysis, you can start making technical changes to the website within this first month. But in cases where you have a large site that needs thorough research, the research and discovery stage can last more than a month.
Start technical SEO work that involves making changes based on the site audit results. Sometimes, the website might need to be completely overhauled, which can take months. You can still do other SEO activities like evaluating link profiles and building content while the website overhaul takes place.
If you are doing a complete website overhaul, you are still optimizing it. However, you won’t see any results since the modifications made will only start to have a significant impact once they are complete.
Your SEO needs to level up. Start focusing on creating high-quality content, including articles, blogs, FAQs, whitepapers, product descriptions, etc. Ideally, you might already start on this right after the research and analysis stage, but budget often restricts what you can do at once, so technical fixes must come first.
Once you’ve started with a great content creation effort, you might start seeing improvements in traffic and rankings by the end of this month. That traffic sometimes translates into leads and sales, which is even better. However, you shouldn’t put so much hope in them yet.
Continue with content creation and make technical optimization to the website if you encounter any errors. Start developing a healthy link profile which may involve cleaning up poor-quality links. By the end of this month, you might begin to see a significant increase in traffic, rankings, and lead generation. While it won’t be close to the improvements you will see in 12 months; it should be enough to know that your SEO efforts are working.
You should be engaged in active content promotion on platforms where your visitors spend quality time, like forums or social media networks. You can also incorporate social media management into your content promotion plan to amplify your content and drive direct traffic to your site.
This can help you acquire a healthy, natural link profile and generate leads. You should continue consistent content creation and perhaps engage with media outreach or PR. You should see more traffic at this point, and your leads should start growing.
Your organic traffic should have hit 3,000 – 5,000 visitors per month, depending on your niche. You should add conversion rate optimization to your content and landing page to improve your traffic conversion. From this point on, your focus should be on consistent content creation and promotion or other creative things.
Start repurposing your content using different formats. Continue building healthy link profiles. And after the 6th month, you need to review your website performance and design a strategic SEO plan for the next 6-12 months to improve your organic search traffic.
Most digital marketing and SEO agencies will tell you that SEO takes 4 to 6 months to start producing results. While that’s generally accurate, bear in mind that this is the earliest point you begin to see results, and SEO results continue to grow over time. Your results at 6 months should be substantially less than what you get at 12 months.
And in some cases, your SEO results may taper off, making it a matter of maintaining those results instead of growing them.
How Long Does it Take for a Website to Rank on Google?
Website developers spend quality time ensuring their website pages appear at the top of Google’s first page. However, reaching the top of search rankings is a long process that doesn’t happen overnight.
It depends on several factors that Google considers when ranking websites. These factors include:
- Site speed
- HTTPS connection
- Great webpage content
- Keyword competition
- Mobile friendly
- High-quality backlinks
- Domain age
- Image optimization
- Schema markup
It’s, therefore, impossible to give an accurate figure that applies to all sites. Google and other search engines will only show the best result for any particular search query, and it takes time and effort to deserve to rank.
The truth is that Google typically ranks older websites over new ones because, over time, a site gains trust and authority. However, this doesn’t mean new sites can’t rank high; it simply means they will need more time.
According to recent research, it can take up to 4 months for a new website to receive its first organic results with Google depending on the competitiveness of the industry and the popularity of the keywords used. But this doesn’t mean your website will rank top on Google; that takes longer.
Invest in Effective SEO
Many companies and brands underestimate how much money and time it takes to run a successful SEO strategy. By any standard, success rarely comes within the initial three months, even with a good budget. Some companies get started the right way but stop after a few months because their results don’t justify the cost. This often happens when companies get into SEO with unrealistic expectations.
Therefore, as already mentioned, SEO is a long-term investment and shouldn’t be taken as a way to generate quick sales. If you can’t budget for up to 12 months of SEO, it might be better to put that money on other exercises. Budgeting for 2 to 3 months of SEO won’t work.
However, with a proper investment of time and money and a plan on being dedicated for the long haul, SEO can be your most productive marketing tactic with a great ROI. Get a free strategy call from the industry’s top digital marketer, Romain Berg, to get the help you need.