How Long Does SEO Take To Start Working (And Why It Takes So Long)

Are you looking for SEO services? One of the immediate questions you may have is “How long will it take before I start getting results?”

This was the primary concern of all SEO clients we have worked with. After all, every business owner or online marketer is primarily concerned about getting the results.

Let’s first clarify what are these results?

  • Rankings
  • Traffic
  • More online visibility
  • Calls from potential customers
  • Conversions or sales

All these are metrics for your SEO campaign. One of the best ways to measure results is by comparing progress to specific timeframes.

So, you should always compare these metrics once you started getting some success with your SEO campaign.

However, measuring SEO progress can be a little bit trickier. For example, some on-page SEO tweaks and keyword targeting strategies can result in few ‘quick wins’ and can increase the search engine visibility of your website almost overnight. Meanwhile, other SEO activities such as building links or establishing local SEO dominance can take several weeks or months before having a significant impact on search traffic.

So while there’s no magic bullet or standard answer to the question “How long will it take”, you can manage your expectations by looking at several factors and variables (which we’ll cover later in this blog).

The length and magnitude of your SEO campaign will then depend on those factors.

How Long Does It Take For SEO Campaigns To Work?

You are not going to like this answer, but the answer is – “It Depends”.

The timeline for your SEO campaign is highly dependent on your industry type. A business in a competitive industry like the cleaning industry may take longer than a business in a less competitive industry.

As a general rule of thumb, it takes around 3-6 months to see results for less competitive industries. On the other hand, for highly competitive industries, it can take up to 1 year.

Although it could take a while to improve Google rankings in more ‘crowded’ industries, the reward in terms of long-term organic traffic is all worth the effort.

In essence, the first thing you need to do in order to know how long it would take to see SEO results is to gain a clear idea of what you’re competing against. Here are some actionable strategies we use to gauge the competition:

Perform competitor research. This involves taking a closer look at sites similar to yours. With enterprise tools and software, we find out what keywords your top competitors are ranking for! There are two sides to this:

  • First, we take a look at the authoritative sites. These sites are the leaders in your field, have been around for quite a while, and have a massive following. It is worth studying the keyword data of these industry leaders because it is your long-term goal to follow their example and somehow follow their success in certain aspects. For example, if we find out that the top authority in your niche is ranking highly for the keyword “weight loss secrets” using a simple page with lacklustre content, we can proceed to create a similar page to target the same keyword with much better content. When we do this, your chances of gaining a bigger traffic share for a particular keyword will increase. Imagine if we rinse and repeat this for a bunch of competitor keywords. The results can be staggering.
  • Secondly, we research keyword data from sites with low authority. This is an area that other business and SEO providers fail to take advantage of, but can be a goldmine if done right. The reason why we research keyword data and SEO metrics for mediocre sites (those sitting on page 3 and beyond of SERPs) are because you can uncover dozens of long-tail keyword ideas from doing so. For example, if we find that a competitor site is ranking low for a popular keyword but ranks high for a long tail keyword, we can then target the same long tail phrase in your SEO campaign, knowing that it is much easier to rank for.

Now, long tail keywords are important because they can help your site gain organic traffic almost immediately. While it could take months to improve rankings for competitive keywords from high authority sites, it can take just a few weeks to rank for long-tail keywords from keywords from low authority sites!

So, when we onboard a client and set up an SEO campaign for them – a process starts. This process is more like an SEO process or a task list. Here’s how we divide this process:

  1. SEO Audit And Competitor Analysis
    You understand your business, your competitors, your industry, your target audience, and your goals. Basically, everything about your business and what needs to be done to scale it.
  2. On Page and Off Page
    On-page optimisation means optimising your website for more traffic and conversion by making changes on your website (that’s why on-page). Under off-page optimisation, we build authority for your website by getting quality backlinks pointing towards your site as a credible source.
  3. Content Optimisation
    Content is still the king and is a determining factor for rankings. We refresh, add and optimise content on your website according to your targetted keywords and market. This will help people find your website every time they search for your product/service.
  4. Reporting
    Measuring and tracking are as important as the campaign itself. We offer transparent and accurate reports that will show you the growth chart with simple illustrations.

Here’s an actual growth graph of one of our client. This is the organic growth for an e-commerce website. As the traffic and rankings increased, the client started getting sales from SEO Campaign.

Website Traffic Increase

Factors That Affect SEO Rankings

This is not an exhaustive list. Let’s list a few of the main factors that affect your SEO rankings in a big way:

On-Page and Technical Issues

The amount of time needed for your SEO campaign will depend on technical issues on your website itself (also known as on-page SEO factors). For example, if you have hundreds of pages which contain duplicate content and broken links, you need to consult with a reliable SEO provider or agency first on how to best resolve the problem. This is very important because if you attempt to build links or increase social signals to a site with lots of on-page errors, there will be little to no effect on your Google rankings.

In many cases, resolving the technical issues alone can spike the organic traffic of your website with very little link building and in as little time possible!

This is why you need to find an SEO professional person or agency who knows how to roll their sleeves and fix the broken or misplaced ‘nuts and bolts’ of your website. A skilled provider will know how to fix your duplicate content, metadata, sitemap, 404 pages, redirect loops and chains, robots file, internal links, htaccess, and many more!

Domain Size and Age

The number of pages in your website plays a major factor. Generally, the more quality pages you have, the better your chances of gaining visibility on Google. Now, this might be a challenge for newly launched sites that have not yet built a library of content.

In fact, if your site is new (less than 6 months old), there is a good chance that it is still within the “Google sandbox”. The sandbox is like a shelf where Google places relatively new and unproven websites for a certain period of time. During this stage, you will find that your site will rarely get any significant visibility on the search engines. Don’t fret, because everybody goes through this.

The best thing to do while your site is new is to make productive use of the time by creating lots of useful content. While it may look a bit discouraging to create great content and get very little viewership, you are actually making a long-term time and money investment which could pay off many times over in the future. As soon as your site goes out of the dreaded sandbox within 6 months, you will find that the awesome content you put up during the early stages is powerful enough to result in your first few hits and quick wins.

Content Quality and Quantity

Recent SEO studies show that pages with ‘thick content’ (word count of 1,000+ words that contain highly informative info), tend to rank higher on search engines. However, you need to strike a balance between quality and quantity. Writing a 5,000-word blog post doesn’t automatically qualify as thick content unless the post contains great value and insight to the readers. The key is to produce content that your audience can look at as a valuable resource. Two words sum it up: length and value.

What To Expect Within 3-6 Months

You can expect to bring your site from zero to a few hundred or even a thousand views per month in traffic after an initial SEO campaign of 3-6 months.

Assuming all the important SEO elements are done right and that you are targeting a good mix of popular keywords and long tail keywords, there is no reason why your site shouldn’t start attracting traffic by the hundreds or in the few thousands after the first six months.

Use a mix of popular keywords + long tail keywords

In terms of sales and conversions, it is well known that organic traffic (or traffic that comes from search engines) have a higher conversion rate than other traffic channels. While social and paid channels tend to convert lower at around 0.5% to 2%, organic traffic can convert traffic to a lead or sale at a rate of 3% to as high as 11% in some cases!

If you sell big-ticket items, this conversion rate can really make a huge difference in your sales and revenue.

Although these are mere estimates and not guarantees, the above figures can give you an idea of what to expect when you decide to launch an SEO campaign. And just like any other thing worth doing, the earlier you start, the sooner you can get results.

If you don’t have SEO expertise, you can outsource SEO services and get some help. But, don’t fall for a trap of low-quality and cheap SEO services.

Remember, SEO is a long-term strategy, but certainly the most sustainable one – if done right!

We can help you with a profitable SEO campaign. Whether you are already running an SEO campaign and not happy with it or you want to try SEO for the first time- we can help!

Talk to one of our SEO professionals today to discuss your options.