How Long Does SEO Take To Produce Results?

When it comes to SEO, there are no shortcuts; it takes time and effort to attain top rankings in Google, but the advantages far outweigh the effort. How long it will take you to get to this position is determined by a lot of factors, which we shall go over below.

One of the most frequently asked questions I get from clients who hire me to work on their SEO is how long it would take to achieve good Google results for the keywords they want to target. This is a reasonable and expected question to ask because when you spend in SEO, you expect to see a return as soon as feasible.

Unfortunately, there is no simple solution to this because there are numerous variables at play, as well as many situations over which you have no influence. However, there are several rules you can follow to arrive at a reasonable answer.

SEO has changed

Before attempting to answer the question “how long does it take?” it is vital to recognize that SEO has evolved over the previous few years. It is still a crucial part of digital marketing and functions, but it is no longer as simple as producing content and getting links.

Previously, SEO was all about conducting thorough keyword research to determine the phrases that are relevant to your organization, producing pages that target those keywords and getting links from article directories linking to those sites.

Websites that accomplished this well and on a broad scale would see a rise in ranks and traffic over the course of a few months.

Things have shifted. If you use the technique mentioned above, you will not only not obtain good results, but you will also risk receiving a penalty from Google, which will harm your ranks and domain reputation.

What you should do instead is:

  • On a frequent basis, publish high-quality evergreen material.
  • Create and manage an excellent website, not just any website.
  • Create your own website by connecting your pages.
  • Use social media to promote your website and content.
  • Guest posting on respected websites is important not just for increasing incoming links to your website, but also for building trust, authority, and relationships with your website’s users.

What should you expect from SEO?

Another thing you should be clear about is what you may expect from SEO. There is no guarantee (and never believe anyone who claims otherwise) that you will obtain high ranks for any extremely competitive keywords in a matter of months.

To reach the top rankings for highly competitive keywords, you must work hard to avoid the thousands of websites contending for a spot on the first page of search results, which normally takes a lot more time and money.

What you should expect instead is an increase in organic traffic, which can usually be reached within a few months of beginning diligent SEO work.

Before we go any further, I wanted to explain something because it changes the answer to the question:

How long does SEO take to work for competitive terms: a few months or perhaps years?

How long does it take for SEO to produce more organic traffic: a few months.

Factors that play a role in the time needed for SEO to start working

Now that we’re all on the same page, let’s look at the factors that influence how long it takes for SEO to function.

Website penalized by Google?

This is the first point I’ll mention since if your website gets penalized by Google, SEO will be useless until you remove the penalty. When a website is penalized by Google, it loses its rankings (for all or some keywords), and in order to re-enter the index, certain procedures must be taken. In a typical rehabilitation situation, you will be required to:

  • Remove any artificially made links referring to your website by asking webmasters to do so or by disavowing the links using Google webmaster tools.
  • Revise your website pages, removing or concatenating pages with weak material.
  • Pages with duplicate content should be removed.
  • Increase the number of pages with high-quality, relevant material.
  • Improve your on-page SEO so that Google can better read and understand your page.
  • Send a reconsideration request via webmaster tools (if you were hit by a manual penalty).

After you’ve completed all of the above steps, you’ll have to wait a few months for Google to update their algorithm to determine whether or not you were able to recover. So, in this scenario, how long does it take for SEO to start functioning depends on the severity of the penalty, how quickly you performed corrective efforts, the type of changes you took, and how long it takes Google to renew its algorithm.

New or old websites

SEO performs better for older websites than for fresh ones. Old websites are those that have been online for at least a couple of years, whereas fresh websites are those that are less than 6 months old.

In the case of new websites, don’t expect to see any significant returns in the first six months. If you launch a new website, write high-quality material on a regular basis, and promote it on social media, you may expect to see some of your pages on the second and third pages of Google in the first three months, and then gradually shift some of your pages to page one after the sixth month.

This is unlikely to generate a lot of traffic, but it is an indication that you are on the correct track. If you keep pushing for more pages to be indexed, as well as a few natural links from credible websites, you will soon see an increase in organic traffic.

The rate of growth is determined by the type of website, competition, content type, and other criteria, but as a rule of thumb, six months is the least time before SEO for new websites will begin to work.

Things are different for older websites that have never been penalized. When you begin doing SEO, especially if no SEO work has previously been done on the site, you may notice improvements in ranking places and traffic within a few months.

If you additionally start performing content marketing and more active social media advertising, in addition to solid off-page SEO, you may quickly turn things around and start reaping the benefits of your work.

Number of pages in the Google index

Although having as many pages as possible indexed by Google does not affect rankings, the amount of pages you have in their index does. Several studies have found a link between the number of pages in an index and ranking places. The more high-quality pages you have, the better, but don’t create pages only for the sake of growing the index.

It is far preferable to have fewer pages with meaningful and useful content than a large number of pages with duplicate, incomplete, or thin content.

The essential takeaway here is that SEO works faster on websites with more than 100 quality pages in the Google index than on websites with fewer than 100 pages. This is to be expected, as it will take some time to develop unique content in order to achieve this barrier.

Quality and length of content

This is similar to the previous point in that you do not simply need any type of page in the Google index, but pages that:

  • Have one-of-a-kind and original material.
  • Have long-form content — The average number of words on Google’s first page is 1500-2000 words.
  • Have SEO-friendly and well-presented content.

Type and number of incoming links

SEO work on websites with a high link profile can produce results faster than work on websites with a weak profile. Incoming links are still a significant SEO component, and if you already have them in place, your task will be much easier than waiting for Google to index and process fresh links.

A word of caution: don’t try to force things with inbound links. Even if you can gain links by guest blogging on highly respectable sites, don’t try to build too many links too quickly because this will most likely raise some red flags, especially for websites that have had very few links since their inception.

Competition levels

You are not the only one that performs SEO and wishes to improve their results for specific keywords. Hundreds, if not thousands, of websites, compete for the same keywords you wish to target in almost every niche.

It is thus common and expected that in order for SEO to work, you must do more work than your competitors, and it will also take more time to see results owing to the nature of Google and the way it ranks websites.

Targeting Local or Global SEO?

Finally, the type of rankings you are aiming for influences how much time it takes for SEO to function. If your goal is to acquire higher rankings for people searching with a locality in their search query, i.e. local SEO, you will get results faster because the competition and difficulty will be lower than if you try to target users all over the world, i.e. global SEO.

For example, if you execute local SEO effectively for the keyword “SEO services long island,” you will see results sooner than if you try to rank for the general query “SEO services.”

SEO works, give it the time it needs

The bottom line and lesson from this piece are that SEO works, but it takes time.

Read how to 100,000 visits per month, or my case study on how one of my blogs reached over 250,000 visits per month, or how Brian Dean created one of the top marketing blogs; the list of success stories is endless, and they all have one thing in common: good SEO, top quality content, innovative online promotion techniques, a lot of patience, and hard work.

If you perform your own SEO, keep your expectations low. Begin with an SEO audit, develop a realistic plan, and begin monitoring your rankings, keeping in mind that what you want is an increase in organic traffic and an improvement in your ranks.

Need help with getting your business found online? Stridec is a top SEO agency in Singapore that can help you achieve your objectives with a structured and effective SEO programme that will get your more customers and sales. Contact us for a discussion now.