When it comes to SEO, perhaps the most asked question is how long it takes to start working. You want to see results as soon as possible. But if an agency is promising an instant impact, or getting to the top Google ranking within a month, it may be best to avoid them, as it’s just not possible. Unlike paid advertising, where you’ll often see the success of your campaign within hours, SEO takes time.
Exactly how much time will depend on a number of factors, but perhaps the top three include the resources you have available, how fierce the competition is, and your starting point. We’ve explored SEO timelines, along with how you can measure your success a little more below!
SEO Success Metrics
Before you can determine how long it takes for SEO to work, you need to understand what success looks like! Few businesses are able to reach the top Google ranking, so you’ll need to have clear goals in mind, as well as ways to measure your success. The timelines you decide on will depend on the success factors discussed below.
You can therefore start by looking at the things you’re able to measure. This could include engagement metrics, how long people spend on your page, the scroll depth, or your conversion rate. Make sure you record your starting figures, and set realistic goals. Try to be as specific as possible – vague notions of improvement are hard to quantify.
It’s also good to share your goals with your team and the wider business. Studies have shown that deciding on specific targets and recording them can actually improve your chances of success.
SEO Success Factors
Once you have determined how you will measure success, and what your goals are, you can think about how long these targets will take to reach. There are three main factors that will impact your SEO success, and each of these will affect your goal timeline.
Unlike the factors below, your resources may be something you have control over. The resources allocated to your SEO strategy can also make the biggest difference in terms of how long it will take to see results. As you’d expect, the more resources you can spare, the faster you’ll hit your targets. But even if you have near limitless resources, SEO nonetheless takes time.
If you are working in a niche industry, you may not have a lot of competition. This can come with its own issues – people may not even know your product exists – but it should mean you have little difficulty ranking for your keywords. In a competitive sector, on the other hand, such as short term personal finance, it could take years to see any real traction.
Where You’re Starting From
If you’re trying to improve the SEO on a new domain, it will take far longer than if you have an established site. You won’t have built up any backlinks or authority, and this can set you back by around three months. That’s not to say that an older site is easy to improve – there is often a lot of research involved. It’s a good idea to look at the history of your site over time, as far back as you have data for. That way you can track your trajectory.
Top 3 SEO Considerations
In terms of SEO success, there are three main considerations – content, technical issues on your site, and backlinks. Your starting point and success in each of these areas will impact the amount of time it takes for your SEO efforts to bear fruit.
With your content, it goes without saying that you’ll need to do a lot of research into keywords and analyse your own written content, as well as that of your competitors, to see what is working. But it’s not just about copy – imagery is an important factor too. With Google’s new Page Experience algorithm update, you need to consider how engaging your website is for your audience. Great content that answers specific search queries can help your site rank quicker than copy that is written just for content’s sake.
Any technical SEO issues you have could seriously affect your rankings, so fixing these may result in quick SEO results. It will just depend on the type and severity of the problem. Anything from site speed to duplicate content can prevent you from climbing the search engine rankings, so it’s important to get these issues fixed as soon as possible.
Backlinks, along with your content, can show search engines like Google how relevant and trusted your content is. A backlink pointing at your site is essentially a vote of confidence and indication of popularity. While quality backlinks can often be the most effective way to improve your SEO, it’s also the thing that tends to take the longest. This is especially true if your competitors are leagues ahead of you when it comes to backlinks. Catching up can be tricky, and your content will really have to outshine theirs!
The Bottom Line
Realistically, you are unlikely to see success with your SEO strategy before six to twelve months. Google has previously stated that in the majority of cases, it will take between four months and a year to see the benefits of your SEO groundwork. The success here is likely to be a visible increase in traffic, along with the level of conversions you’d expect to see alongside this. You probably won’t achieve all your goals in a year, but you should see progress.
There is no definitive timeline when it comes to SEO success. But if you invest enough time and resources into your strategy, the payoff will almost certainly be worth it. And if you think you need to outsource your SEO efforts, The Pineapple Agency would love to hear from you! We can provide a clear outline, over the course of several months, that will guarantee results.