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When is comes to SEO, everyone wants quick results to snag that number one page ranking spot on Google. Many website owners hold unrealistic expectations, imagining instant results as soon as they start working on their SEO strategy, but it takes time and a lot of effort.
Not to mention, your job is never really complete because SEO is not a one time deal. It’s an investment that requires maintenance and ongoing attention to sustain the results. There is a lot that plays into how long SEO takes. Let’s dive in.
As internet marketer Brad Randolph states, “SEO can take as fast as one day, or as long as 6 plus months to see results.”
Some website owners claim to see results in as little as two weeks, while others report it to take as long as six months. However, the length of time it takes depends on a number of factors, such as the age and authority of your site, if you have any penalties, and if you’re aiming for long-term or short term results.
There’s no magic bullet for SEO as it takes time, planning, and readjusting to achieve and maintain the ranking, ROI, and traffic results you want to accomplish. If you’re looking for speedy results, those tactics will end up hurting you in the long run, especially since Google now becomes automatically suspicious of any website that has a sudden increase in ranking, instinctively assuming black hat tactics are being used.
When aiming for a better performing and higher ranking website, it’s best to think long-term, even if you’ll have to wait awhile to see the results you want.
Authority and Age
Although Matt Cutts, Google Engineer, says domain age has little to do with the ranking process, there are many conclusive case studies proving aged domains benefit from SEO quicker than newer domains.
Cutts says, “The difference between a domain that’s six months old vs. one year old is really not that big at all. As long as you’ve been around for at least a couple of months, you should be able to make sure that you can show up in search results.”
However, new websites and domains usually take much longer to produce results than older sites due to the number of backlinks; thus, contributing to the fact older sites are more trusted. Established websites have a higher backlink portfolio, which is why it often takes time to rank over your competitors. Many try to find a quick solution to this problem with paid links, which at one time produced quick results, but they are now considered to be a deceptive form of SEO. The correct way to establish a backlink profile takes time and a lot of work before you’ll begin to see results. In addition, as long as it’s authorative, the older your domain, the more link juice it will generate with each passing year, so give it time.
Fixing Errors, Hosting Issues, and Penalties
Another issue that comes into play when trying to achieve a better ranking is fixing the damage that’s already been done, such as SEO errors, unreliable website hosting, and Google penalties. Depending on the number of 404 errors, broken links, 301 redirects, and inconstant optimization, you may see positive results in about two weeks after resolving all these factors. However, be aware Google doesn’t index all of the changes at once, so you may see an increase quickly in some aspects, but not in all.
“When you make changes to your site, you’re at the mercy of the Google crawlers to discover those changes and make the changes in the overall search index,“ says online marketing consultant, Eric Sornoso. “Sometimes, it takes multiple passes, particularly for removed pages.”
Other common issues to resolve involve fixing crawling and robots.txt issues. This also includes sitemaps, .htaccess, web.config files, and other components to your website’s architecture and linking structure. Most of the time, you’ll begin to see results fairly quickly after resolving the issues, but not always. For example, if you’ve updated a few links on a sitemap, you may see results within a week; however, if you’ve updated numerous links, it may take a few weeks. Also, older sites tend to update faster, especially when there are more inbound links than newer sites with less links.
SEO Friendly Design, Structure, and Architecture
A large component to website traffic and ranking also involves your site’s design, CMS system, and URL structure, which are all areas of concern as they can drag down your page ranking. You want to ensure your site’s architecture and URL structure supports proper optimization for a high ranking. This also includes choosing the right CMS that’s search engine friendly and offers increased SEO capabilities.
Choosing the correct responsive design for mobile optimization is critical as more than half of internet searches originate from mobile devices; therefore, you must spend time ensuring both mobile and desktop optimization requirements are met. Plus, more than 90 percent of internet users say they use numerous device screens. By having a responsive design you’ll ensure your website works properly on all devices, no matter the screen size.
“Responsive design in great for SEO because it allows you to leverage the SEO value that you’ve already developed on your desktop pages to improve mobile rankings as well,” said Cindy Krum in an interview with Net Magazine.
Keyword Targeting and Competitor Analysis
Too often, analyzing competitors is underestimated. You can learn a lot by analyzing your competitors, especially if they dominate the search results. You can’t steal their secrets, but instead learn valuable tools to incorporate into your own SEO strategy to achieve a higher ranking quicker, such as keywords, identifying patterns, and implementing new practices you have yet to try. Analyzing your competitors will also help you target better keywords related to your industry. This process takes time, and can play a role in how long SEO takes.
According to Kapost, those who have a content marketing strategy in place will see as much as an 8 percent increase in website traffic. In most cases, we actually see much larger increases in traffic. We all know that quality content reigns king for producing SEO results; therefore, you need to spend a great deal of time creating a content strategy and implementing it effectively.
If your website doesn’t include relevant and authorative content, you have a steep hill ahead of you as you’ll need to fix the content on your website. Then, focus on creating additional content to further your strategy. This isn’t an overnight fix by any means and it is will take months to see the full results, but when the results do roll in, they will be long-term.
On-Page and Off-Page SEO
If you’re hoping to see results a little faster, check your on-page optimization. By making adjustments to your meta’s, tags, header, anchor text, title, descriptions, and alt tags, you’ll often see results within a few days. This is usually one of the first items people address in SEO. Get this done quick, and it could shorter how long SEO takes to produce results.
Your off-page optimization takes a little bit more time to build results as you’ll need to link to authoritive websites; thus, helping you build your link portfolio by encouraging other websites to link back. Consider blog commenting, high-end directories and citations, guest blogging, and social media sharing to further your off-page optimization. Just be sure you aren’t spamming or you’ll be penalized.
Link building is a very time consuming challenge that can get a bit tricky; however, it’s an essential component for Google algorithms. Avoid all black hat tactics when link building because a Google penalty is a costly mistake to fix. The best way to link build is to develop quality and engaging content on a regular basis. Use social media marketing to promote the content to encourage shares and audience engagement. To make the most of your time and effort, look for additional ways to repurpose the content, which will give you more time to focus on other areas and further increase your SEO success.
Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer for how long SEO will take as no one controls the search engines and requirements are always changing. Plus, every site is different. You simply can’t measure in hours, days, weeks, or months how long SEO will take, nor can you measure the amount of hours you should spend working on it.
There is no quick fix for website rankings. You will need to spend a decent amount of time working on your SEO strategy, but the effort will slowly but surely pay off. Like the Tortoise and the Hare, perseverance will prevail, just stick with it to reach your goal.
- “Why Does SEO Take So Long?” by Chris Sparks SearchEngineJournal.com
- “Don’t Believe the Hype! How Long Should It Actually Take to Get Results from SEO?” Social Media Today
- “How Long Does It Take for SEO to Work?” David Melamed
- “SEO Results: How Long Does It Take for SEO to Work?” Kick Start Commerce
- “How Long Will It Take to Rank for My Keywords? “ Square Social