Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a long-term endeavor that gets the best results from consistent effort over an extended period of time. Although most business owners are in for the long haul, it is normal to be concerned about how long it will take before you start to see more revenue. After all, you will undoubtedly want to know whether your campaign is a success as quickly as possible.
SEO results are seldom – if ever – “instant.” Knowing what to expect will help you properly evaluate your investment (yes, SEO is an investment) in getting noticed on the search engines.
No exact timeframes can be given in SEO, but most results are seen within a specific period of time that everyone investing in an SEO campaign should understand in advance.
SEO Requires Time
Anyone who tries to convince you that results in SEO can be achieved overnight is not being honest.
The truth is that Google can take three to six months before it adapts to any changes that you make to your website.
However, the exact timeframe that you should expect in your own situation can vary widely. For instance, new websites can often take months before they are finally indexed by Google’s search robots, and prominent rankings will have to be achieved in the months ahead from that point on.
Therefore, regardless of the campaign that you are launching, you will need to be patient to see the results from SEO.
Your Website Influences How Long SEO Takes
The internet is not the wild west that it used to be, but it is still fraught with scammers and unethical organizations attempting to engage in illegal activity. As a result, Google almost never ranks brand new websites prominently in the months after a campaign has been started.
Result? New websites generally have to wait six to 12 months before they will finally start to get the traffic that they deserve.
Established websites can also take time to start getting traffic from SEO when dramatic changes to the overall website are made quickly. However, once websites get established in Google’s perception, they can usually get new content ranking within one to two months. Additionally, updated content can often bounce up in the rankings quickly when it is posted on an established website.
If you are trying to increase your rankings for terms that have long been controlled by major SEO leaders in your niche, it will take longer to get the top-ranking position.
Google values consistency more than anything, so it does not want to make major changes until it is sure about its decisions after gathering sufficient data.
On a practical level, keep in mind that strong competitors are unlikely to sit idly by while you work to outrank them on some of their most important keywords.
In many cases, savvy SEO teams will respond to your actions within a matter of days once your website is close to the top position.
For instance, if you post a 5,000-word in-depth article that focuses on a keyword that a strong competitor controls with a 750-word article, the competitor will often respond by updating their content or posting a new piece.
Consequently, SEO can sometimes take longer than expected when you face off against strong competitors who vigorously defend their positions.
Your Overall Business
Since SEO is ultimately an activity that is done in a competitive environment, you will need to factor in your industry, the nature of your competitors, and the type of business that you do, when determining how long SEO will take to yield results.
If you know that you have strong competitors, you should plan on your SEO campaign taking longer.
On the other hand, if you have a highly differentiated business where there is little-to-no competition, it is possible that you could be ranking highly in a matter of months.
It is also important to consider how much SEO is used in your industry. In some industries, most business owners see little reason to invest in marketing since most of their sales come from referrals or even a road sign. SEO will usually get results much faster when your competitors are rarely even online and tend to have a limited understanding of how SEO actually works.
Your Digital Presence – SEO Isn’t Just Your Website
Keep in mind that most businesses must focus on more than just their website when doing SEO.
Your social media accounts, online reviews, third-party articles praising your business, and other content often need to be promoted as part of your SEO campaign. Additionally, you may want to do negative SEO to remove content that is harmful to your image.
SEO can take a lot longer when you have to worry about improving your rankings across multiple channels. Multiple channels will mean you need to create more content for each channel that you want to make more visible.
Getting the exact online image that you want can take time through trial and error. Therefore, you should plan on being patient when waiting for results to be realized when launching a new SEO campaign.