September 27, 2022
SEO is a digital marketing activity that can take a while before you start seeing results. Find out, once and for all, how long it really takes to see results!
Long answer: The best SEO agencies explain that SEO is a complex practice with many impacting and undefined variables. On top of that, SEO success is not a guarantee. Results from SEO are dependent on many factors, including:
These, along with other factors, will determine whether your SEO strategies will work and if you stand a chance at ranking in search engines.
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I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but SEO doesn’t happen overnight (and if an SEO agency is promising you this, reconsider doing business with them). Implementing an SEO strategy is one thing, but actually seeing the organic traffic come through or your website in the search engine results pages is another.
SEO success is dependent on many core things; having an SEO campaign tailored to your website and specific business needs is the key to delivering a long term return and ofcourse plenty of patience.
How long SEO takes largely depends on how much you’re willing to put in. If you’re looking for quick wins, perhaps you’re better suited to Google Ads or pay-per-click marketing. On the other hand, if you understand that you need to work for your SEO before your SEO works for you, then you’re likely to see long-term, profitable results from SEO.
For example, here is the traffic of a website that purely focuses on blog post creation, often compromising on topical relevance of their blogs to increase the quantity of content on their site and topical relevance.
Whilst it’s true that Google loves content, so yes, your organic traffic will be trending upwards, but it’s unlikely to see a significant and parallel increase in website conversions.We regularly see this when reviewing potential new SEO clients.
Now, this client started their SEO campaign with us in May 2019; notice how website traffic growth looks slow when compared to the example above, but conversions have increased alongside traffic? This is an example of a healthy growth rate as a result of a well-tailored SEO strategy.
There are over 200 ranking factors in Google’s search engine algorithm, all of which are weighted differently, never fully disclosed and constantly evolving. Google is always changing the rules of the game, making it impossible for any SEO professional to pinpoint exactly how long it’ll take to start ranking on Google. However, a skilled SEO specialist should be able to estimate how long it’ll take to rank your website or webpage on Google and plan your SEO campaign accordingly.
These are the factors that should be taken into account when analysing a website, planning a new SEO strategy and setting realistic expectations for how long it’ll take a website to rank on Google:
1. The website
2. Website’s backlink profile
3. Inbound links
4. Internal linking structure
6. Site structure
8. Domain authority
9. Domain age
It’s pretty simple; high competition keywords will take longer to rank than low competition keywords. If you’re new to search engine optimization and you’re entering a market with strong players on the first page of Google for your desired keyword set, you need to understand that it may take a long time to outrank them, and it may not even be possible.
Your keyword research will show keywords with a range of search volume; this is usually the easiest and earliest indicator of how competitive a keyword is (and, therefore, how long it’ll take to rank for that keyword).
SEO software like Semrush has metrics built into its keyword research tools that estimate keyword ranking difficulty. So, in your keyword targeting, include a mix of lower search volume keywords and long-tail keywords; these will likely be easier to rank for in the early stages of your SEO program.
Whilst it's great to also optimise for the more difficult keywords, it could be a while before you rank on the first page of Google’s search results for these. It’s estimated only 5% of users click through to the second page of Google, so you’ll see more conversions being on the first page of Google for a lower competition keyword than you’ll see on the second page for a high competition keyword.
SEO takes so long because of the many factors that need to work in unison.
Essentially, there’s no point in investing in a brand new website and expecting that alone to rank you in the search engines. Without implementing SEO in its entirety, you’ll compromise on significant results and likely only see minimal organic traffic (if any).
There’s a reason many companies outsource their SEO efforts to digital marketing agencies; it can take years to become an SEO expert. The length of time it takes to learn SEO isn’t because it is overly complex but rather because of the volume of information. You must be proficient in the 3 key areas (on-page SEO, off-page SEO and link building), the Google algorithm, and other search engine algorithms – if you want to rank beyond just Google.
On top of that, search engines are always updating their algorithms, so you need to be aware of what changes have recently been made (or are predicted) and ensure your SEO and website account for these changes. It also pays to be educated on the historical search engine updates to learn what doesn’t work for SEO and what’s caused an issue for website owners in the past (to know what to avoid).
To put this into context, a digital marketing agency's SEO division will usually be composed of experts (or teams of experts) split across the three SEO areas. This division allows for optimal proficiency in each area as it’s simply too much information for one person to know and know well.
Now that you understand SEO is a worthwhile investment (that takes time) and will yield strong long-term results, you’re ready to start an SEO program. What’s next?
We recommend chatting with a few different digital marketing agencies until you find the one that offers an SEO strategy that best resonates with your business and newly set expectations.
Book a strategy session with one of our senior digital advisors and they’ll take a look at:
Following this analysis, they’ll sit down with you to begin strategising an SEO program.
Talk to an SEO specialist at EngineRoom.
General Manager of Agency Services
Sam is an SEO expert with an exceptional track record in the building of both B2B and B2C businesses.