How long does it take to see SEO results?
Why does SEO take so long?
We’ll tackle these questions and more in this article.
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When it comes to SEO, everyone wants quick results.
Many website owners have unrealistic expectations about SEO efforts, imagining instant results as soon as they start working on their SEO strategy, but it takes time and a lot of effort.
And that effort never really truly ends. SEO is not a one-time deal. It’s an investment that requires maintenance and ongoing attention to see any sustainable results. There is a lot that plays into how long the SEO time to success so let’s not waste another moment.
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 time it takes before seeing significant results depends on a variety of factors, such as the age and authority of your site, any penalties hindering your ranking, and if you’re aiming for long-term or short term results.
There’s no secret ingredient for SEO. It takes time, planning, and careful readjustment to achieve and maintain rankings, ROI, and traffic.
If you prioritize speed over sustainability, those tactics will end up hurting you in the long run. Google is automatically suspicious of any website that has a sudden increase in ranking, as it’s assumed black hat tactics are responsible.
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.
Unfortunately, I can’t give you a straight answer to the question “how long does SEO take?” A straight answer simply doesn’t exist.
I can, however, go over a few factors that will play a part in how fast – and how effective – your SEO is overall.
Let’s dive in.
Authority and Age
Matt Cutts, former Google Engineer, previously claimed that domain age has little to do with the ranking process stating, “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.”
Despite this claim, many more recent, conclusive case studies clearly demonstrate aged domains benefits from SEO efforts more quickly than newer domains.
Nowadays, it’s generally accepted that new websites and domains usually take much longer to produce results than older sites due to the number of backlinks, which contributes to the fact that older sites are more trusted.
Established websites have a larger backlink network 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 these paid links are now classified as a deceptive form of SEO.
The correct way to establish a backlink profile takes time and work before you’ll begin to see results. In addition, the older and more authoritative your domain, the more linking network it will generate with each passing year.
Fixing Errors, Hosting Issues, and Penalties
When asking yourself how long does SEO take, consider fixing the damage that’s already been done. SEO errors, unreliable website hosting, and Google penalties take longer amounts of time to back up from.
Depending on the number of 404 errors, broken links, 301 redirects, and inconsistent optimization, resolving these errors can show positive results in as little as two weeks.
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. But, how long does SEO take to update?
Keep in mind, when you update or make changes to any pages, you have to rely on Google to find those changes and recrawl the page. This doesn’t happen overnight, and sometimes, takes a few crawls for the changes to register.
Other common SEO issues include fixing crawling and robots.txt issues, 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. Older sites tend to update faster, especially when there are more inbound links than newer sites with fewer links.
SEO Friendly Design, Structure, and Architecture
A large component of website traffic and ranking also involves your site’s design, CMS system, and URL structure. If not properly handled, these factors can drag down your page ranking. You want to ensure your site’s architecture and URL structure supports proper optimization for a high ranking.
Choosing the correct responsive design for mobile optimization is critical. More than half of internet searches originate from mobile devices. 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.
While this doesn’t truly answer the question of how long does it take SEO to work, once all of these issues are resolved and your site is structurally sound, you’ll notice a slow but steady increase in ranking.
Keyword Targeting and Competitor Analysis
You can learn a lot by analyzing your competitors, especially if they dominate the search results.
While you can’t steal their secrets, you can learn valuable insights for your own SEO strategy such as keywords, patterns, and new practices to try.
Analyzing your competitors will also help you target better keywords related to your industry.
This process takes a significant amount of time, which factors into the answer the question: how long does it take to rank in Google results.
Good news is, it also saves some time in the long run. Emulating your competitors gives you insight into real strategies that get proven results, which means you aren’t starting from scratch.
Luckily, there are plenty of tools that can help you evaluate and analyze your competitors, like SpyFu and SEMRush.
Take SEMRush, for example. Simply fire up the site and select Domain Overview from the left-hand menu, and type in a competitor’s URL.
This will take you to a page that covers their top paid and organic keywords, backlinks overview, traffic numbers, etc. From there, you can investigate further into each.
According to Kapost, those who have a content marketing strategy in place will see as much as an 8% increase in website traffic. In reality, we often see more.
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 authoritative content, you have a steep hill ahead of you. You’ll need to fix the content on your website and map out a strategy to create and publish additional content.
This isn’t an overnight fix by any means and it is will take months to see the full results, but they’ll have long-term impact.
On-Page and Off-Page SEO
If you’re hoping to see some truly sustainable results a little faster, check your on-page optimization.
By making adjustments to your meta 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 quickly, 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 authoritative websites. Consider blog commenting, high-end directories and citations, guest blogging, and social media sharing to further your off-page optimization. Be genuine in your efforts or you’ll be considered spam.
For more on how to use off-page optimization for better search results, read my full guide here.
Link building is a very time-consuming challenge that can get a bit tricky. However, it’s an essential component of Google algorithms.
Avoid all black hat tactics when link building: a Google penalty is a costly mistake to fix. The best way to build links is to develop quality and engaging content on a regular basis.
Use social media marketing to promote the content and encourage audience engagement. To make the most of your time and effort, look for additional ways to repurpose the content into snippets and shorter posts, which will give you more time to focus on other areas and further increase your SEO success.
If you need some ideas about to earn better backlinks, I have a multi-chapter guide dedicated to helping you do just that.
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.
So, How Long Does SEO Take?
When will I see the results of my SEO actions? How long does it take to rank to Google?
Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer for how long SEO takes, as search engines and requirements are always changing.
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 number 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.