Many business owners, when they meet an SEO expert or agency, ask “how long does SEO take to start working?” The answer to this question would have been different if it was a decade ago. It was the time when keyword-stuffed content and the number of links were arguably everything a website needed to rank #1 on Google and other search engines. Over the years, search engines have tweaked and fiddled with the algorithms that determine how web pages rank on search engine result pages (SERPs).
So, the best answer to that question is – SEO takes time. The results you see with SEO grow over time. In the beginning, you may not see any immediate effects, but in the first three to six months, you should start seeing some of your web pages making it to the first or second page for certain keywords. Below you’ll see a breakdown of the entire process, but before you go ahead and see it, you should answer some questions.
How long do backlinks take make a boost to your keyword rankings? A study by Moz showed that the average time to get a jump in rankings from a backlink is around 10 weeks. Sometimes you’ll get more quicker results depending on which page of the SERPs your website is on, how many backlinks you’ve gotten recently, and how powerful the links are.
Some questions you should ask are: Who is working on your site’s SEO, and how many people are working on it? What’s the status of your website – Is it live or is it incomplete? And did your site get penalized by Google or any other search engine in the past?
Answering these questions may help you figure out how much time SEO will take to work. But if you’re still confused, here’s the breakdown of the entire SEO process.
1 to 3 months and beyond:
Analysis and planning: Your SEO agency or in-house team needs some time for analysis and planning. They will start with the basic steps like technical analysis of your website, competitor analysis, keyword research, link analysis, and keyword finalization. This entire process can take around a week to a month.
Index Coverage: Once your SEO strategy is ready, it’s time to optimize your website as per the search engine guidelines. In this process, a technical SEO expert will check your website and submit it to major search engines. They will create and submit sitemaps, fix crawl errors, set robot coverage and frequency to make sure that your website is readable when Google sees it.
Most importantly, this process involves indexing, which means you are requesting search engines to visit your website and add your web pages to their huge database. This is also a one-time process, but your SEO manager will have to keep looking for errors, index status, and several other important factors.
On-page optimization: When search engine bots start visiting your website, they add your pages to their database. It’s important to make sure that your website is completely SEO friendly. There are a number of steps to making your website SEO friendly but typically it will start with keyword use on each page of your website. The SEO team will create a balance between the density and position of your keywords on each page. They may also identify new key phrases and create more pages for added SEO benefits.
The process requires some programming knowledge. Your SEO agency will check your site’s structure, which means some SEO experts will check the quality of codes, title and meta tags, URL structure, image alt tags, duplicate content, etc. Meanwhile, a team of SEO experts will continue to optimize your site’s existing content.
A team of SEO professionals can manage all the tasks mentioned above within 15-30 days. But if you’re doing it yourself or with a team that lacks experience and have no professional support, it can take months to achieve this much.
Content production: Search engine optimization is incomplete without content. You should have articles, case studies, whitepapers, infographics, videos, presentations, service and product information, etc. Your content strategy requires consistency and the right distribution plan. Just publishing a certain number of articles won’t get your website on the first page of Google. Today, search engines look for quality and depth of information.
This is a major turning point for your SEO strategy because from here, you will see the growth in your site’s ranking on search engine result pages. In the beginning, low competition keywords and long-tail keywords will start helping your site. You’ll also see a significant increase in click-through rate (CTR) traffic when you target the right keywords.
Big SEO questions you need to answer: Again, you should answer some more questions. What’s your budget? How much content are you able to produce or want the SEO team to produce? Are you using different content formats or you just want to stick with blog posts? Do you know where your target audience is, or are you distributing content on the right channels? You can see how your answers will impact your SEO strategy.
Link building: A major stage in SEO where you not only rely on your on-site content but also spread content across different relevant and high-authority sites. The process is called link-building and it requires a huge amount of research and planning. This is an ongoing process and with time, it will not only increase your site’s performance in search results, but it will also help you earn higher SEO stats like domain authority (DA) and page authority (PA) which correlate with higher keyword rankings.
Search engine optimization is a huge part of any marketing activity and it is not limited to the activities mentioned above. There’s a lot more that SEO professionals do behind the scenes to help websites earn the place they deserve.
So if you’re working with an in-house SEO team or taking help of a professional SEO agency, you can easily start all of these activities in the first three months. But if you’re doing it all alone, chances are you may need around six months to see some results. Since most of the activities such as content creation, link building, and optimization are not a one-time job, you’ll have to keep doing them month-to-month.
Your SEO strategy has all the answers
Now you know that SEO doesn’t take too long to work since most of the things depend on how well you’re doing it, and how the search engines are responding to your SEO strategy. If it’s not bringing any results even after the first 3-6 months, analyze what you could be doing wrong and improve it.
If you are having trouble doing SEO yourself then get us to do it for you, we’re search engine optimization professionals.