SEO is not a short term game, although there are early signs of what’s to come. Our clients see ranking improvements within 3 months. We aim to provide more search traffic than an equivalent monthly spend on Google Adwords, and typically pass that point within 6 months.
The traffic, calls and ROI build up the longer you do SEO. Our average client’s search traffic value in 2020 is 4.2x their monthly investment compared to Google Adwords. This doesn’t include the social media or referral traffic generated by the SEO campaigns. For a more in depth answer, read about how long SEO takes to get results.
One of the most common questions I get asked about SEO, is how long does SEO take? Every business owner wants to rank high on the first page of google. After all, great rankings and SEO results should mean more website traffic and conversions right?
So, how long does SEO take to work? It’s possible to see ranking growth in as little as 2 weeks, but the answer is more complicated than the question. In general you should be seeing positive ranking growth within 3 months. Some long tail keywords on page one in 3-6 months. After 6-9 months some higher volume keywords on page one. The longer you do SEO the greater the rewards.
To get a deeper understanding we are going to share to both incredible data on the topic and a timeline of SEO results from over 10 years experience. This will give you insight into the key SEO factors involved, how long it takes to see SEO results and what those results actually mean.
There is a number (well 100’s) of Google ranking factors which can be grouped into the areas below. Each has a different strategy and impact on rankings.
Website optimisation. Both technical SEO and On page SEO are website optimisation techniques that ensure your website code, structure and keyword usage are best practice and clear for search engines to understand and discover.
Website content. To appear in any search results you need quality content that answers the questions people are searching. Building up content that targets all the related search queries to your niche is essential. Some will be evergreen content that’s always relevant while some will be more time sensitive and need regular updates.
Linkbuilding. Links are fundamental to how Google ranks websites. When someone links to your website it’s like a vote for Google to rank it. Not all links are created equal. There are some golden rules for linkbuilding you should follow to avoid penalties.
Website age. If competitors have been doing SEO for a long time then they have a head start. An established website will have links and content built up over it’s history. If your website is new, it’s starting with a clean slate and will take longer to build the same authority. This shouldn’t discourage you though. The sooner you start the sooner you’ll be reaping you share of the rewards.
Website conversion. This one is two-fold. If your website is good at converting visitors into leads and sales then you’ll see more results from growing rankings. Why? Website conversion optimisation tasks like improving website speed also affect SEO. Google wants to send people to websites they’ll love so they reward some conversion factors.
Remember I said you could see SEO results in as little as 2 weeks? If your website optimisation has been neglected or is poorly implemented, correcting this is an early win. Improving your page load times, making your site more engaging, fixing broken links, updating meta tags…lots of website changes can influence rankings really quickly. Requesting Google to recrawl pages will ensure the changes are picked up and indexed quickly. I’ve literally seen ranking jumps overnight with website optimisation time and time again.
Taking care of low hanging fruit first is a great boost. From there you need to consistently build on ALL of the SEO factors to cumulatively build results.
According to a study of 2 million keywords by ahrefs.com, the average age of a webpage ranking in the top 10 Google results is over 2 years.
Webpages in the number one position are approaching 3 years old on average.
SEO results after 3 months. You should be ranking for branded terms and have some long tail keywords on page 2. It’s unlikely you’ll be ranking on the first page for highly competitive keywords but rankings are headed in the right direction as you leap ahead of websites that are less active. In this time we are setting up the foundations. Auditing and optimising your website, basic linkbuilding and starting on a content strategy.
SEO results after 6 months. Some long tail keywords are hitting the first page, increasing your organic website traffic and leads. Higher volume keywords continue to rise up the rankings but at a reduced rate (since you’ve moved ahead of lower ranked websites that aren’t so active with SEO). Your website content strategy is starting to build up steam. Filling more content gaps means you’ve increased ranking for a large number of new keywords. A branded social media network is established to syndicate your content.
SEO results after 12 months. Persistence pays off. First page rankings for some medium and high volume keywords generate larger steps in website visitors. The number of ranking long tail keywords swell. A growing library of content and advanced linkbuilding means each page you add to your website ranks faster, snowballing traffic and leads. Continuous improvement of your website converts more visitors into customers.
The SEO work you do in the first 12 months will generate revenue and a return on investment for years to come. As you continue to invest in SEO just how high that ROI can go is staggering. Hundreds of keywords on the first page and 5-10x the ROI of paid advertising is not uncommon.
So the question, how long does SEO take? Also needs to factor, how much can SEO make? The worst thing you can do is delay starting and let your competitors get further ahead. Get the conversation started with a free SEO consultation.