They say all the great things take time. Obviously, businesses want to get quick results. They feel that’s the way to get the best bang for their buck, and the way to get their return on investments. However, any Search Engine Optimization (SEO) expert will tell you that SEO is not like traditional paid media where the results and benefits of advertising are seen and reaped the next following days. But how long does SEO exactly take before showing results?
This guide will break down all the things that happen for SEO efforts and strategy to take effect; from what successful SEO looks like, and what results to expect, among other things.
Between 4 to 12 months.
The Long Answer
When targeting low competition, you can see results from your SEO efforts in as fast as 4 to 6 months.
If measurable success is what you are looking for, such as an increase in both traffic and conversion, then you can actually see these things unfold within 6 months to 1 year.
When targeting high-competition keywords and competing against the domain and authority pages, however, the results can definitely take much longer; sometimes 2 to even 4 years for good rankings and results to show up.
So, what exactly is going on during this time?
First off, you need to know what exactly you are looking for. With this, you need to have a clear understanding of what a successful exactly SEO looks like.
In terms of putting SEO strategies, specialists and marketers usually use two things: campaign and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
- Goals – this refer to the specific outcome that you want to achieve
- KPI – the metrics used to measure the progress towards the goals
Both goals and KPIs are important in measuring the results and success of SEO. In practice, the results for these two look like:
- Goals – increase in revenue (set amount in a specified period of time, i.e. 1-year period)
- KPIs – growth in visibility, website traffic, impressions, and rankings
The goals, of course, have to be measurable and realistic. So the next question should be, how long does it take to see results from the core KPIs? Well, there are lots of factors involved, and it simply differs from one business to another. But again, generally, it takes 6 to 12 months.
A Good SEO Strategy Must Show Results In 6 to 12 Months
A good search engine optimization strategy will show measurable results in a 6 to 12 months, period. Measurable results, of course, refer to an increase in traffic and conversion of leads. While this doesn’t necessarily mean getting to the goals, you can expect to see good improvement within this timeframe.
As said earlier, each business is different. Thus, each website can be different in terms of improvements. Search engines, particularly Google, look to provide the best answers/results to any given queries. Getting your pages ranked in their results doesn’t only take time; you should also need to earn it.
So what factors determine SEO’s success?
History of the website
Compared to old and established ones, it takes a longer time for new domains to see success, given that it takes time to build authority and earn backlinks. With that said, established domains have earned some level of authority and backlinks pointing back to them.
With this in mind, a new domain may need 9 to 12 months to see results, instead of 6 to 12 months.
However, it is also worth noting that having an established domain doesn’t guarantee faster results. Penalized domains that went against Google’s webmaster guidelines or have been affected by changes and updates in the search engine’s core algorithm will definitely not see quick results.
This is why it is always best to build up a clear picture of the history of the website when working on a new project.
The best way to do this is through an organic search tool. Simply enter your domain and set the “estimated traffic trend” at ‘all time’, and it will show you the estimated traffic of your website.
If there are problems that need to be fixed, or any issues that should be addressed, the tool will show it. When implementing the right strategy, however, the tool will show what progress you can expect within the given timeframe.
The tool provides timeframe estimates based on the history of the website. To help you put your projections altogether, make sure you consider the performance of the website in the past 3 years.
Obviously, you can see faster results in queries and niches with low competition. Highly competitive niches and keywords (i.e. health, fitness, crypto, insurance, beauty, real estate, etc.) can take a couple of years or more to even see your page on Google’s first page.
This is why you need to narrow your competition keywords and target local keywords, where you may see promising results in 4 to 6 months.
To help you in this aspect, most SEO audit tools come with a Keyword Difficulty feature that shows how difficult it would be to tank in a given keyword.
Aside from the keywords, you also need to consider how your competitors ranked in the particular keywords and what they are doing to keep their visibility and positions. This means your strategy must be based on how to compete against them too. In this case, Keyword Gap Tool can be a good starting point to help you see who and what you are up against. In terms of backlinks, you can use Backlink Gap Tool.
You cannot control the history of the website, or its competition. You can, however, control the resources allotted to an SEO project. The idea is simple, the more resources you can provide to your SEO strategy, the faster you can get results. So what’s the most important resource out there? Easy – time.
There are two websites from two small businesses of the same niche, competing for the same target keywords. They both know their SEO, from content, backlinks, etc. Both use the same SEO freelancer to boost their website, and both have started from a level playing field.
Website X tasked their SEO specialist to work on their website for 5 days a week, while website asked their SEO specialist to work on their website Y for just 2 days a week. Obviously, website X will get faster results. Why?
Three Components of a Successful SEO Strategy
A successful SEO strategy has three components, technical SEO, content, and backlinks.
Technical SEO refers to the things within the website the must be addressed before you can notice any developments. This includes:
- Crawling and indexing
- Website speed
- Structured data
- XML sitemaps
These areas must be addressed for the SEO to take effect. You can use SEO Market Pros Site Audit Tool to identify which issues in your SEO are causing problems.
Technical SEO alone cannot pull the website out from the deep end of the search results. Ever heard the phrase “content is king”?
Search engines, specifically Google, love content. In their quest to be the main (and best) source of information, they want to be able to provide users with the best possible answers to their queries, whatever that may be.
This is why creating high-quality, valuable, informative, fresh, interesting, and timely content is crucial to match the searcher’s intent. You can learn so much from content that is already existing and performing. Moreover, good content will establish your brand as an authority in your niche, allowing you to gain people’s trust in the process.
Poor quality content, on the other hand, doesn’t only take longer to take effect, but it can be detrimental to your SEO efforts as well.
Backlinks are not only the best indicator of trust and popularity; it also has the ability to catapult your website in the rankings.
Links work like votes of confidence between two websites. And the link in real life, there are no shortcuts to gaining someone’s trust. Thus, getting high-quality backlinks takes time and hard work (to make great contents that people will want to link to).
It is worth noting that not all links are created equal. High-quality links, of course, provide a better chance to drive results.
Other things to consider…
It is important to note that SEO is not a one-off strategy, is continuous work. Implementing all these strategies is just one step of the multiple steps that you need to take to optimize your website. You have to monitor where your website stands on search engine results pages (SERPs).
As said earlier, the more resources you allow to your SEO strategy, the better and faster you can see results. But then again, each brand, business, market, niche, industry, and website is different. Always oversee the technical aspects, write quality and helpful content, and strengthen the link profile of your website before you make any projections and expectations for success.