This is one of the most frequently asked questions in SEO. If you wondering how long SEO take then get ready for a long answer.
In short, it depends.
In the long, it depends on the age of your website, how much content you’ve already got on your website, the links you’ve built up and the overall structure of the website plus quite a lot more.
We all want our businesses to be at the top of the search engines but it takes time to build up an established web presence and trust and authority.
In the 2023 SEO landscape, Google has evolved its search engine to identify the majority of poor-quality websites, though some remain and ranking for the top keywords is getting tougher.
What to consider when talking about SEO results.
If your website is brand new
If you’ve got a new website then it’s likely that you won’t see any SEO results for at least three to six months.
This is because all new websites are placed in what is known as Google sandbox, Google doesn’t trust your website so it puts a temporary “block” on your website appearance.
This doesn’t mean you’ll be invisible.
You can rank for your brand new fairly fast until you’ve gone for an exact match domain (EMD) then you’ll probably have to wait until your website is set free.
Even if you’ve got a new website, it’s all about setting it up for SEO, just don’t go too hard on it at first, just get about 50 pages online optimise and then you can leave for a few months to see what happens.
If your website is established
For older websites, you’ll be ranking faster, especially if you’ve already got a decent amount of traffic.
There are certain milestones you need to get to, for example, getting the first 1,000 visitors per month is the most difficult part of SEO but once you get to that level, it’s much easier going from 1k to 10k than it is originally starting.
The level of competition
How much competition there is plays a huge role in the time taken to rank.
If you’re selling a generic product that everyone else is also selling, it’s going to be competitive.
This is why you need to segment your market and find your niche, it helps to make things much easier and stops you from wasting time going after keywords that are too competitive.
You can use websites like Ahrefs to see how much traffic keywords are getting and which competitors are taking the bulk of the traffic.
This helps you to identify what they are doing right and why they are ranking at the top.
How the keyword affects the time to see results
When you’re looking for keywords, ideally you want them to match the following criteria.
- Low competition
- High volume
- Three words + (long tail keywords)
In reality, it’s you won’t find too many of these keywords but these are the easiest keywords to start ranking for, optimise your pages for this and you’ll see more traffic coming to your site.
If you target long-tail keywords you can typically see results within months.
If your website has a domain rating of say around 20 – 40 this can help you rank for them quickly and if it’s higher you could be ranking for keywords in days.
But the chances are if you’re ranking that fast it’s not so competitive and not many searches.
Here at Klub Clicks we recently did some eCommerce product guides. Half of them appeared on the top page of Google for keyword + guide within 24 hours of going live.
In this instance, it’s not about driving a load of traffic to the website, it’s about helping the website get more topical authority.
Has your site had a Google penalty?
If you break the rules or the guidelines set by Google you can end up with a penalty. This can see your traffic drop from thousands to 0 overnight.
If you try to influence the search engines with, for example, AI content that is just rubbish, backlinks coming in from a lot of spam websites, thin content, keyword stuffing, or doorway pages, these are just a few examples of ways you can get penalised.
If you’ve got a penalty, that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road though for your SEO. You can get penalties removed by fixing what go you the penalty in the first place.
You might be wondering if you need to change your domain name, this is totally up to you, if you’ve got a small site then this is much easier than a larger site.
However changing the name can be a bit drastic, you can improve your website and get trusted by Google again, you just need a little patience.
Different aspects of SEO, how long do they take to make an impact?
Content writing is hugely effective at scale. If you’re just putting on small pieces of content say once a month, this isn’t going to do anything for your SEO.
To rank for more keywords you need to write long-form blog posts that dig deep down into the topic, exploring multiple aspects.
For some low competition keywords you can be ranking on pages two to three in a matter of days or weeks but to get on to the top pages for more competitive keywords you’ll also need to build some backlinks to that page as well.
On page optimisation
On-page optimisation can give your website a quick boost, though you won’t be going on to page one overnight due to changing some tags and optimising content unless you’re finding some very uncompetitive keywords, which could happen.
Optimising the on page elements is perhaps the easiest thing to do as you have total control over it, just don’t over-optimise by stuffing your content with keywords.
Backlinks used to take quite a while to kick in, sometimes six months to a year, now we’re seeing links affecting our websites that can react quicker to give the website a boost in the SERPs.
When performing link outreach though, it can take time to find suitable websites that are willing to link out to you, don’t worry, this is normal.
If you’re starting a new link-building campaign expect to start seeing results in about six months.
Fixing technical SEO issues
Technical SEO issues occur usually to neglect or lack of site maintenance.
Technical problems can stop your website from showing up in the search engines so it’s important if you’ve got any technical SEO issues on your website to get them fixed as soon as possible.
There’s no clear timeline of how long these issues take to get recognised by the search engines but expect to wait about three to six months to see solid improvements, though results can come quicker.
Ranking time in SEO conclusion
Unfortunately, there’s no sustainable way to get your website ranking for keywords tomorrow. SEO strategies are focused on the long term, delivering measurable results and helping to grow your business.
Ultimately, the competitiveness of the keyword and the amount of SEO you’re performing will dictate the length of time it takes to rank.
Plus if your product or service is genuinely unique, that can help you rank faster too but expect it to take at least a year for high-competition keywords, six months for medium-competition keywords and three months for easier keywords.
If you’re time constrained, then perhaps you should look into pay-per-click or social media marketing to help deliver your message quicker, however, these methods are not 100% a way of being successful.
PPC Campaigns take time to warm up, plus even then you might be seeing the results you want.
For businesses who are prepared to put in the effort to grow, you can do DIY SEO and see results but you need to put the effort in.
Plus it’s a hard question to answer how long SEO results take to come to fruition because budgets are different, and SEO services are different.
In reality, it could take six months to rank but because you’re only spending £249 per month, the needle isn’t going to shift so you could face yourself being one year later down the line and still not seeing any results.
Have patience, create high-quality content with a content plan and schedule, establish relationships with websites in your niche and build some backlinks and you’ll be amazed at the progress you can see in twelve months.