How long does SEO really take to work? It’s a question that so many businesses and new bloggers have in mind when considering digital marketing. To be honest, most sources will tell you that it depends on your efforts and what strategies you implement into your daily work.
Such a vague answer won’t help you out in the long run. SEO is one of the best investments you can make for your business or website. You just have to do it the right way, or else you’re just wasting time you can’t get back.
So, where’s the best place to start, and what is your estimated time frame before you start seeing results?
This article will explore the timeline you’re looking at to see your SEO results come to life, what the best practices are for beginners and all the other important details that go into making SEO work for you.
Are you ready to take control of your SEO success?
How Long Does it Take For a New Website to Rank?
Chris Panteli, an SEO expert, states that it can take anywhere from 3 to 12 months for a brand new site or blog to appear in Google’s organic search rankings. That can also depend on competition, your niche, and the authority of your website.
While keeping in mind that no two businesses or websites are exactly the same. How long SEO takes to work for you depends on several factors.
Here are a few questions you may want to ask yourself before beginning an SEO marketing strategy:
- How established is your brand?
- What kind of content do you publish?
- What are the rankings of your competitive keywords?
- What’s your competition like?
It can also take longer for a website with little to no authority to rank. Most professionals don’t want to make any promises on timelines because it really is a bit of a guessing game. It always depends on your strategy, how successful your business is already, what your experience is with technical SEO and many other factors.
Large companies may see results faster due to having at least some authority in the niche already. However, new bloggers may have to work twice as hard to see a difference in rank, conversions, and organic traffic.
It’s important to keep in mind that only 0.78% of Google searches actually click on results from the second page. So, getting ranked on Google’s first page is so important for success, business, sales, and traffic. That’s why it’s so vital to use SEO tactics that work.
Because Google uses over 200 ranking factors in its algorithm, finding the right SEO strategy will take some time. There really isn’t a golden tactic that works for every business. And, to be fair, nearly 60% of pages that rank in the top 10 Google results are usually 3 or more years old.
As a rule of thumb, SEO is never really “done” and you should never just stop your efforts even if you begin to see results after a few months to a year.
How Long Does it Take for Local SEO to Work?
Local SEO and traditional SEO are vastly different in timelines. Local SEO is said to only take 4 to 8 weeks before results are noticed with only a few minor changes and adjustments especially if you have already claimed your Google listings. Your website will also have some authority, and you have the appropriate categories and keywords set up correctly.
Some local SEO updates may take some time before they will affect your rank, and your place in Google maps 3 pack.
You may want to make the following adjustments if you haven’t already:
- Claim your Google Business Profile (may take 4 to 6 weeks)
- Change or update your NAP in your Google Business Profile (may take 4 to 6 weeks before updates take effect)
- New domain name (8 to 12 weeks)
- Add listings and citations (can take up to 8 weeks)
However, if you are just building your website, your local authority, you may even be looking at 6 months to 2 years. This, of course, depends on your SEO efforts, what your strategies are, and how often you are catering to your Google reviews.
Why Does SEO Take So Long To Work?
One of the main reasons why SEO can take such a long time to see any kind of results is if you’re working in a competitive market. You’ll need to wait months if not years before you see your efforts in any SEO rank.
That’s because many digital marketers are doing and making the same adjustments to their strategy alongside you. It really depends on whose SEO works better and faster.
A study by BrightEdge found that organic traffic accounts for around 40% of revenue across retail, media, entertainment, business services, and technology. 94% of those clicks are from organic results in SERPs.
Pages that rank 1 through 3 on search engine results pages roughly generate a clickthrough rate of 36%. That is why it’s so important for SEO efforts to help you rank as quickly as possible.
Aside from strategy and ranking factors, search engines such as Google and Bing take time to crawl and understand your SEO implementations. Googlebot then needs to compare your content to your competitors and other websites that are trying to win the same space as you before even putting anything into an index.
How many hours per week should you invest in SEO efforts?
The majority of your on-page SEO optimization management will come from checkups, adjustments, and keeping track of your metrics. For example, you may want to schedule a time once a week to log into Google Search Central to check for crawl errors, duplicates, or any other issues that may arise.
You may also want to update your site when there are any dramatic changes. These things probably won’t take you a huge amount of time, but it may be a tedious task if any problem happens.
I would guesstimate, that it may take you anywhere from around 3 to 12 hours a week depending on how large your website is and if any issues occur.
Factors That Affect The Time Frame of Your SEO Results
As I’ve mentioned, there are so many factors that go into making SEO work; such as picking low-competition niches, using SEO services, and even algorithm updates. However, in this section, I’m going to touch base on a few of the major players that matter in the timeline of your SEO results. These factors all make the biggest difference when it comes to SEO strategy.
Here are the major factors that contribute to the timeline of SEO results:
Age and authority of a website
Domain age is an important factor when it comes to SEO results. More than half of the top results on Google are a few years old, and studies from Ahrefs suggest that out of about 2 million pages, very few websites less than a year old achieve top Google ranking status.
It’s important to have a website with at least some authority before really grinding towards SEO efforts. It will help you rank faster when you begin your SEO strategy.
In some cases, the domain name might matter as well. Google’s algorithm can sometimes penalize exact-match domains (basically sites that target keywords in the URL) that can be considered spammy with low-quality content.
But then there’s research from Moz that suggests that exact-match domains that are relevant and high-quality can see a ranking boost because of it. However, if you have an established site, you shouldn’t go searching for an exact-match domain for your business if it isn’t necessary.
Technical SEO and SEO-friendly structure
Getting code and structure correct is a major aspect of SEO. This part can be kind of intimidating; however, it’s well worth your efforts if done right.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Keyword phrases in page titles
- Optimize your inbound links
- Use header tags such as H1, H2, or H3
- Create a good meta description (even if Google rewrites it later)
- Use the right amount of characters for your meta descriptions
WordPress has a couple of plugins available to help you out such as All in One SEO. All in One SEO and other tools can help you set a focus keyword and tell you how well your pages and posts are optimized. You may also see a checklist on how to improve.
Keyword research and difficulty
Keyword research and difficulty are major factors in how long your SEO takes to work. Keyword difficulty is an SEO metric that estimates how hard it would be to rank for a keyword.
Let me take a second to explain something. One common misconception that business owners and SEO experts alike should understand is that you really shouldn’t confuse rankings with new customers.
Of course, ranking high in Google really is the goal for many companies. However, sometimes using keywords that drive the most conversions and keywords for ranking is different. That is why it’s so important to perform keyword research. This can be done with tools such as The HOTH’s Free Google Keyword Planner.
Keyword phrases such as long-tail keywords and keywords that have a high search volume also are a factor in ranking. If you choose a keyword that is too competitive, you risk being drowned out by other businesses in your niche. Long-tail keywords may not drive much traffic, but they improve conversion rates and can help you turn traffic into a sale.
On-page and off-page SEO strategies
On-page SEO is everything that you can control on your own websites such as title tags, keywords, and internal links. By optimizing your internal links with quality links, and optimizing your on-page SEO you allow Google’s crawlers to find your information faster. This allows Google to share your content with relevant search queries.
Internal links are important because they provide information authority for your website and also aid Google in getting a deeper understanding of what your content is all about.
One of the best SEO methods that are best to implement is internal links. You can use SEMrush to identify and fix internal linking errors on your website. The internal linking structure can be fairly helpful when trying to find problems with your inbound links.
Off-page SEO includes everything that is done off-website such as backlinks, content syndication, and even social media.
What Are The Best SEO Practices to Increase SEO Results?
Ranking on Google’s first page is usually a top priority for businesses or anyone looking to rank. According to a HubSpot study, 75% of searchers don’t bother to look past the first page of search results. That is why ranking high is so important.
You can increase your rank by using some of these tried and true methods that SEO experts swear by. The best practices for SEO will make it easier for search engines to crawl, understand, and index your website’s information.
Here are some awesome SEO methods you should start with:
Match your content with search intent
Keywords are a major aspect of SEO success; but, once you’ve targeted your keywords, you may need to go deeper into search intent.
Search intent is the purpose behind every search. Understanding and then answering search intent is Google’s top priority for its users.
Here are a few different types of search intent:
Informational: is a search that falls under any type of informational intent such as a user who is looking for something specific like “what day is Mother’s day.” This type of search is usually quick and doesn’t take much in-depth explanation.
Navigational: is a search intent that falls under anyone who is looking for a specific website such as, “Facebook” or “Amazon login page.”
Commercial: the intent behind this search type is when a user is looking for a product but hasn’t made the decision to make a purchase yet.
Transactional: the intent here is to buy something. The searcher has already made a decision to buy a product, service, or item. Some examples may include, “buy Samsung s20 Ultra.”
By matching your content with search intent, you are guiding your audience to the correct content for them.
Make videos to go with your written content
According to a study by Wordstream, 49% of marketers grow revenue faster if they are using quality content videos in their SEO campaign with around 51% of experts naming it as the best content for ROI. 64% of consumers are also more likely to make a purchase after watching a brand video on social media.
In fact, in the U.S. alone, 85% of all internet users engage with video content every month, and 86% of consumers say they would like to see more video content from the brands they know and love.
Optimize your images and page speed
Images are such an important part of improving the user experience of visitors to your website. Chances are you spend a ton of time finding the right illustrations or images for your website, product page, and any other important webpage on your site.
However, are you spending the same amount of time making sure that your images are optimized? When used in the best way, images can boost your SEO, organic traffic, and much more.
Here are a couple of ways to optimize your images:
- File format
- Compress your images
- Provide alt-text
- Lazy-load your images
Site speed can make a big difference in bounce rate, so the first step you should take in optimizing your images is picking the best file format. The most commonly used image formats are JPEG and PNG.
Both of these formats are used for different compression methods and the file sizes between them can be dramatically different. Be sure to pick the best format image for your website.
The bigger your image is, the longer it takes for your website to load. That’s why it’s a great idea to make sure that you compress your images before placing them on your website.
Google is super great at understanding images; however, adding alt-text can still be a big help. Adding alt-text improves your web accessibility and helps search engine crawlers understand what your images are of.
Lazy loading is an interesting method that defers the loading of non-essential resources like videos and images. Instead, they only load when a user needs them to. This can help page speed dramatically.
Improve user experience
Google keeps track of how users engage with your website and pages. User experience is one of the key factors in making sure that you see SEO results.
Here are a couple of SEO tips to make sure that your website provides a good user experience:
- Use subheads
- Use illustrations or relevant images
- Avoid using popups
- Use white space
- Make sure your website is mobile-friendly
As I mentioned, correct usage of subheadings’ H1’s and H2′ helps Google understand your content in the best way. It also makes your text more readable to your audience. If you need help creating an awesome title, try The HOTH’s Headline Generator for free!
Studies suggest that visuals can help people understand the content better. So, using videos, images, and illustrations can help your audience understand your content.
Annoying popups speak for themselves. Nobody wants to be casually reading an article and then be bombarded with a ton of different popups. If you do decide to use them, be careful with the context and don’t overwhelm your reader.
White space is simply a good design. White space, also known as negative space improves branding and focus. So, consider using some white space to make your content more legible and to grab your audience’s attention.
Mobile-friendliness is a major ranking factor because nearly 60% of all searches happen on a mobile device. You can use Google’s mobile-friendly text to make sure your site works well with phones and tablets.
How Do You Know if SEO is Working?
Now that you know how soon to expect to see SEO results. What factors play a role. And, what the best practices are for those results. You are probably asking yourself how will you know when your SEO is working?
Let me give you some valid advice on what you should expect to see:
- Your Website Traffic Changes
- Google Changes Your Rank for Your Target Keywords
- Competition Changes
A traffic increase really depends on the website’s niche. You can rank a website and see an increase in traffic by over 6,000% in a span of just a few years, or you can see a website only gain a 300% increase in the same time period.
Traffic can sometimes be a factor, but what is the most important in the end-game is the sales that that traffic brings in. Revenue is sometimes more important than traffic.
If you know where your keywords are in the search results before you begin your SEO efforts, then it will make it much easier to tell the difference in metrics when you check after you’ve begun your SEO efforts.
It would be best to check your keywords after around three months to see your rankings, and if there’s an increase then you can tell your efforts are paying off.
Competition is such a major factor in SEO. One of the best things you can do is to study your competitors to see how they are affecting your rankings.
Here are a few good tools to get you going:
Here are a few metrics you should track to see a difference in your SEO efforts:
- Time on page
- Bounce rate
- Click-through rate
- Conversion rate
Analyzing your metrics and using the best tools can also let you know if your SEO is working. If you notice that your backlinks are increasing, then your SEO efforts are working! Great job! Another metric to keep an eye on would be the number of organic keywords that are on your website. If those are increasing, then it’s good to assume that you are targeting the right keywords for your niche.
Don’t Give Up!
SEO can take a long time before you begin seeing results. It’s an overwhelming feeling trying to succeed in an industry that has so many competitors who already have their foot in the door.