How Long Does It Take for SEO to Start Working?

How Long Does It Take for SEO to Start Working?

Almost everyone who has ever done any serious search engine optimization in any capacity, either as an employee of a single company, an agency pro working for a number of clients, or a self-SEO-ing webmaster; has found themselves in a situation where someone or they themselves are asking for far too much.

A company whose management has been making unwise moves for a couple of years and whose sales are dropping catastrophically come to an SEO agency and they think a bit of optimization will save their company in a matter of weeks. A neophyte startup in a super-competitive niche wants to rank 1st on Google in three months. A self-help guru attempts to break into the top results in an impossibly competitive industry in a month and a half.

How Long Does SEO Take?

The examples are endless.

In all of those situations, SEO people do try and explain that it doesn’t work that way, but few listen.

This is why it is important to try and explain to people how long it takes for SEO to start working. Unfortunately for those who are looking for quick, simple answers, the only truly correct reply to this question is the oh-so-annoying, “It depends”.

It depends on a lot.

What’s the current situation?

The first thing that will determine how long it will take for an SEO campaign to work is the situation present at the time of the campaign’s start. For example, if you or your client are an accountancy practice with a website that exists since 1998, you are in a much better spot than that same practice with a brand new website, no matter how cool or modern it is.

Google loves the longevity of websites. It will take less time for SEO to work if your website is an old one.

The state of your existing website will also affect a lot. Does it feature plenty of content? Have you been doing on-site SEO over the years (either consciously or unwittingly)? Is your website fast to load? Is it mobile-friendly?

A website that is SEO-friendly at least to some extent will require less time to rank than one where SEO has been an afterthought at best.

Another thing that affects the current situation and the future success of your SEO campaign is the competitiveness of your niche and the keywords you will want to rank for. For instance, if you are starting an online pharmacy, you are in for a very long and arduous battle that will rarely feel fair. On the other hand, if you sell something as esoteric as umbrella holders made out of used howitzer shells, your SEO efforts will yield results relatively quickly.

Keep in mind that competitiveness is not just about the keywords and the niche, it is also about how strong your direct competitors are. One thing that people often forget about SEO is that no one party exists in a vacuum. When you rise, your competitors drop and vice versa. For every SEO action there is a reaction and sometimes your actions will cause reactions from much bigger players, setting you back in the process.

What are your goals?

Of course, we cannot discuss the timeframe in which you can expect results from SEO without considering the results that you or your clients are looking for. With SEO, these sought-after results can vary greatly.

For example, some companies and individuals look at it from the most macro standpoint possible. They are looking for an increase in revenue that can be traced back to the newly-instigated SEO efforts. This may be somewhat tricky to establish with absolute certainty, but people find ways.

Others are looking to increase their website traffic by a certain percentage. For instance, they are looking to double the number of visits to their website or increase it at an even higher rate.

Some website owners wish to see their site rank in the top 5 or top 10 results for certain keywords and keyphrases. Others want to improve their standings by a certain number of spots. There are website owners who are looking at whose groups of keywords.

In combination with the aforementioned current state of affairs, these results and their ambitiousness will determine how long it will take for an SEO campaign to work. For example, going from #17 to #10 in Google search for a keyword will take significantly less time than cracking the Top 3 even if you are at fifth.

How much can you afford?

Doing SEO requires time and/or money. If you plan on doing everything on your own, you will be spending serious amounts of time (once again depending on a number of factors). If you plan on hiring someone to do your SEO, you will be spending money.

Sooner or later, you will need to decide how much of these you can afford. Without establishing this, there is absolutely no telling how long it will take for SEO to reap results for you.

For example, when you hire an experienced SEO agency to do an SEO overhaul of your old website and add half a year of meticulously planned and masterfully delivered content creation and link building, you can rest assured it will show results sooner than when you do it yourself, when you find the time in between other responsibilities of running a business or even just a website.

With more time and money to spend, you can be aggressive without having to resort to various black-hat shortcuts that will only hurt your website in the long run. This is something that has to be emphasized, right here – there are shortcuts that will sort of save you time and money, but they will never work in the long run.

Like everything else, good work will take either time or money and most often both.

Closing Word

Once again, if you were looking for a quick and simple answer, accept our apologies. Simply put, there are too many factors that decide how long it takes for SEO to work and it is impossible to give any kind of an approximation without knowing at least a few of the factors.

The important thing to remember is that SEO is not a quick-fix solution, but that its effects can be stellar when allowed to work.

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