The single most important question for a business or brand which is about to spend money on search engine optimization (SEO) is how long does SEO take to work before results start coming in. We’ve been asked that question countless times over, and frankly, there’s no direct answer.
The leading issue in trying to answer that question is that there are plenty of things that factor in – including but not limited to, the type of business, industry, marketing strategies, and web design. Simply put, figuring out how long it takes for SEO to work is relative to how it is done in the first place.
We’ve dealt with several businesses in the past who already had impractical expectations before coming in; they ask head-on if we can help them produce results in a couple of months because that is the ideal time frame they hear from their peers.
How Long Does SEO Take to Work?
The Truth About SEO
Sadly, for them and any future client, we tell them that SEO doesn’t walk on a straight line. In other words, there’s no uniform system or set of rules that govern how strategies should work and what methods should be avoided.
Key in the term “SEO tips” in Google, and you are bombarded with thousands of opinions from everyone claiming to be experts. While there is nothing wrong with the overabundance of information, we take issue on those who cash in on misinformation, particularly about SEO campaigns that produce results in no time.
You’re here because you want to know the truth. Don’t get me wrong – We’re not dissuading you from investing in SEO. You’re here for a reality check, and that is what we’re giving you.
Don’t worry if you are confused or scared. Everyone feels the same way when they ponder how long it’ll take for SEO to work. But before we delve on to the factors that affect the timeline and results, let’s make sure you know the basics of SEO.
What is SEO?
SEO deals with the optimization of the pages of a website in a way that achieves favorable rank in the search engine results pages (SERPS). It stands out from all other strategies with the same objective because it involves the use of free or “organic” methods.
SERPs contain links to pages, listings, videos, and other stuff that are relevant to a specific keyword phrase or search term. The results are ranked using an algorithm designed based on the search intent of the user.
SEO has the most impact on a website’s ranking, but it is a broad concept that is better understood by two attributes – on-page SEO and off-page SEO.
The only way to understand on-page SEO is by learning how a search engine like Google operates. It was mentioned earlier that search engines embrace an algorithm to examine content and rank pages through them. Google gathers content by using spiders or crawlers.
Search engines use a database (indexes) to save pertinent website info, including URLs. So, when someone searches “signs of a roof replacement,” Google displays results based on its indexes.
On-page SEO deals with optimizing a page on a website. The search engines take multiple factors into account when ranking pages. These factors include keyword use and stemming, internal links and anchor texts, mobile responsiveness, and distribution of page authority, to name a few.
This is often called “link building,” for a good reason. Off-page SEO describes the process of creating a reputable inbound link profile for a website by using:
- trustworthy links from other websites.
The reason why it is called “off-page” is that the work done is outside of the website. An excellent example is when you ask an authority site in the roofing industry to link to your blog post about the signs that a roof needs replacement.
When Will You See Results from Your Campaign?
Irrespective of the chosen SEO strategy, it takes time to see the results after the implementation. If you’re desperate to know how long you should wait, then the most sensible projection is four to seven months.
This is the period when you begin to see results. In other words, we’re not saying you achieve utter success in less than a year.
The reason why we’d always come up with this modest projection is that there is a bevy of factors that affect the development of your campaign. We discuss these factors below:
Being a newbie is the biggest challenge for every website trying to climb up to the search engine results pages. It’s like when you’re vying a job straight out of college, and everyone looks at you as an inexperienced prospect with a lot of risks and a few upsides.
For the most part, it takes Google a couple of months to index a newly published site. In other words, age plays a crucial factor in figuring out how long you have to wait for your website to appear on the first page of SERPs.
There are ways to help speed up your progress, i.e., obtaining links from authority sites (off-page SEO). Doing so means convincing high-ranking and relevant sites to link to you. If you’re successful in getting these links to your pages, you’re telling Google to index your site quicker.
Age and history are two different things SEO’s perspective. The former refers to the time that your site has been published on the web. While the latter talks about your site’s interaction history with the search engines.
Google hands out a score on every page of a website based on factors such as trustworthiness and reputability. This score or rating exemplifies your site’s propensity to climb in the search engine rankings. Hence, the higher score your page gets, the more likely faster the climb to the first page of Google will be.
We said earlier that there is no set of strict guidelines or rules in SEO. But don’t think Google and other search engines won’t penalize black hat strategies.
Google hates websites that break its rules, although there’s no existing document that details these rules. Any decent individual with minimal background in SEO knows what it means to break the rules.
For example, procuring backlinks from shady and spammy sources, posting duplicate content, and keyword stuffing.
If you’ve engaged in any of those black hat techniques before, it means your site has a tainted reputation online. Google and other search engines won’t forget previous penalties when they rank pages. But like everything in life, there’s always a second chance to redeem yourself.
SEO is a lot more complicated than most people think, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Instead of probing into how long does SEO take to work, the best approach is to set realistic goals. And then establish an effective plan based on them. Instead of focusing on the time frame, you should weigh on the factors that affect your campaign.