“When should I expect to see results from SEO efforts?” This is the magic question local business owners ask me all the time when we talk about website optimization to improve organic rankings.
What do I tell them?
In my 5+ years of experience working as an SEO consultant, I have been able to increase organic traffic by 79% for some clients in a 6 month period, by implementing the right SEO strategy, while other clients in higher competition niches have seen a 13% revenue increase from organic traffic, in less than 8 months. It would be rather difficult to give a definitive answer, due to a few factors that are at play.
In this article, I will go over some of the key factors that determine the length of time SEO takes to work. I will explain why an SEO campaign could take some time to produce results, and I will break it down into two different scenarios, new websites, and websites with some history. Just keep in mind that, by results, I am referring to organic traffic, impressions, click-throughs, engagement, and conversion, excluding results from paid search ads (PPC).
First, a quick summary about What is SEO?
Let me emphasize in one sentence what SEO is all about. SEO stands for search engine optimization. In plain language, Search Engine Optimization is providing the best and more relevant answer to a specific question or user search query that also satisfies the search intent, better than your competition, so you can outrank them.
Factors that determine how long it takes to see results from SEO campaigns
Here are some of the factors that determine the success of your SEO campaigns and the average period of time to achieve results.
- Domain authority – New domain vs. a domain that has been around for a while.
- The level of competition in the same niche
- Financial investment or budget
- Business niche and topical content
- Internal and external links pointing to the domain
- The quality of the content
- User experience (UX)
- URL structure
- How fast the SEO changes are implemented
- Any potential Google penalties?
SEO results for new websites
- Competition – Analyzing the niche competitiveness involves understanding things like looking at the organic keywords and which competitors frequently appear on the organic rankings, what is their domain authority, keyword competitiveness, competitive topics, and how much effort they are putting into their SEO.
A good SEO consultant would normally dig even deeper to better understand the quality of your online competition. Looking at things like the number of keywords they’re ranking for, how much traffic they’re getting, and which pages are attracting more traffic, is it blog posts or product pages? Understanding all these aspects of SEO helps build a solid SEO strategy.
- Budget – The results of our competitive analysis will give us an idea about the SEO financial investment required to outrank your competition. Some of the SEO tasks that the budget would cover are:- Competitive keyword research
– SEO strategy
– On-Page SEO & Technical Optimization
– Content Strategy
– Content writing (can be handled in-house by the client, outsourced)
– Keyword optimization
When working with brand new websites to improve their organic search rankings, domain authority is one of the biggest factors when it comes to how long will it take for the website to rank in SERPs.To better understand the competitive landscape of your niche, and where your website fits in, we analyze the domain authority for a competitor’s website. To do that we usually look at the overall website E-A-T (Expertise, Authority, and Trust), quality links and backlinks and how much traffic they’re bringing in. If your domain has only been around for a couple of weeks, patience is the magic word here. You may be competing with a website with a higher authority score as their domain has been around for months or maybe years.
Even though domain age is not considered a ranking factor, older domains within the same niche that have been building content month over month, tend to have an advantage. In my experience, in about 6-8 weeks your domain will start appearing on Google, but again that does depend on how competitive your industry is. Just remember that SEO should be seen as a long-term investment.
It is important to note here that working with an experienced SEO consulting agency that understands what changes need to happen first and knows how to prioritize those changes, can make a difference in how fast you start seeing organic traffic from SEO.
Depending on what your niche is, how much competition there is and how competitive are the keywords you are targeting, the average time to start seeing a traffic increase is anywhere from 4-6 months
However, the answer can be different for different industries – we have seen a fresh domain in the semi-competitive design-build niche ranked on the first page within 4 weeks for non-branded
keywords, however, each industry is different.
- Improving content quality,
- Build a strong backlink profile and
- Establish yourself as an expert and authority in your industry, which will guarantee you future gains
How about SEO results in established websites?
When it comes to websites that have been around for a while, we’ve seen different scenarios:
1. Websites that have a fair amount of quality content, have not done any SEO optimization at all but rather use other forms of traditional marketing. Those are often the best cases because the content is already in place, however, it needs to be optimized with keywords and user intent in mind. In many cases of this nature, an SEO consultant would recommend having a short and long-term strategy.
A few questions come to mind here when analyzing content, for example:
- Is the blog content divided into categories?
- Do the blog topics satisfy the search queries?
- Are there opportunities to merge different blog posts into one long-form content article?
If you are working with an SEO consultant or agency, the first step most often is to perform an SEO audit on the website you want to optimize, and I like to break that down into three types of audit:
- On-Page Audit
- Off-Page Audit
- Technical Audit.
Typically, you would want to focus on the low hanging fruit first,
- What pages/content is already ranking and how can we improve it and make it
- Is there duplicate content that we should remove
- What are some aspects we can improve right away? FAQ section, turning some of the content we already have into blog posts
Making some simple changes and fixing some basic technical issues often result in significant ranking improvements within the first 30-45 days. Then work on the longer-term plan focusing on the conversions and ROI. Usually, you will start seeing gradual traffic increase and impressions increase within 3-6 months.
2. Secondly, there are cases of a YMYL (Your Money Your Life) website which include government, financial, and investment industries. These sites may have been around for a few years and are content-heavy. In some of these cases when an SEO agency starts auditing if we discover issues related to the content, the time span to fix the issue could be 6-12 months. Let’s remember that based on the Quality Raters Guidelines bar is set higher for YMYL websites.
Here is an example of a client in the health science education that already had a presence online and had very little or no SEO work done. In fact, we did a whole website migration for this client which brought up a whole different set of tasks to take care of.
The screenshot from the Google Search Console shows the data from July 2021, right after the site migration, until January 2022. In addition to implementing the on-page SEO, and maintaining the URL structure, I leveraged the power of the Google Search Console regex feature to uncover topic ideas to build a content calendar and started publishing content in the blog. In a few days, we started seeing an uptick in traffic, and in less than 6 months the organic impressions almost increased by over 140%.
Another factor to consider is if a website has a bruised online reputation due to receiving a
penalty from Google, which could be for using inappropriate SEO tactics. After the penalty issue is been taken care of, usually the site will start seeing a positive reaction in about 2-3 months.
How long it takes to see results from SEO?
The answer to the first question – How long does SEO take to work, can be divided into three scenarios:
1. For search queries with low competition, it is possible to see results within 7-10 days or
about a week
2. For search queries with medium competition SEO campaigns can produce results within 4-5 weeks
3. And, for search queries with high competition, you are looking at 4-6 months
Being a small brand in a competitive marketplace should not make you feel inferior. Every brand starts small. Experience has taught us that businesses with a well-aligned SEO strategy who execute fast and consistently will be successful and rip the fruits of their work.
SEO is an ongoing effort, so set measurable goals, align them with business objectives, prioritize well and invest in SEO, to see significant long-lasting organic growth.
If you are interested in a website review or audit, reach out and let me show you how to increase your sales leads and revenue from organic SEO. I would be happy to offer you a free and informative SEO consulting session.