How Long will my SEO take to see results?
How Search Engine Optimization Works Today...
Many website owners often wonder how long it takes for their keywords to rank their website number one. This isn't a simple one-size-fits-all answer because the question itself is a bit misguided. After all, the question is the result of what people used to know about SEO. And, the phrase here is "used to know". What people learned isn't what is happening with SEO today.
Current SEO vs. Old SEO
In the past, the goal was to find keywords, between five and 10 golden words, most pertinent to a business, which helped the website to attain traffic and wasn't extremely competitive. These keywords would help to bring most of the traffic. When people want to hit number one, it's often because they're stuck in the past.
That alone is no longer a viable strategy – no longer is there just one keyword or groups of keywords that will bring your website a plethora of traffic. Not what you'd get from the long tail terms of search. If you're focused only on a minute group of basic keywords, the people you want to find you won't be able to find you.
Now don't misunderstand, ranking for relative keyterms is still important, but the shorter 2-3 word phrases are not as powerful as they once were because Google has changed up the way they rank "relevant" terms.
Today "natural" language search drives SEO – people are asking normal questions, not just two or three keywords. The reason for this is that more people use apps such as Google Now and Siri, instead of typing their questions in. With their typed searches, they're asking for in-depth information so they can find what they want much quicker.
Due to the nature of these keywords and the lack of competitiveness, they can be easier to rank. They're relevant because they're in-depth, which means traffic from these keywords leads to a higher conversion rate.
The amount of searches in the long tail is far more effective than "golden keywords". When it comes to the objective of ranking, you want to use natural language because it quickly changes and growing.
So we always recommend a good mixture of long tail terms in your keyword list.
Keyword Ranking Alone Isn't As Important As It Once Was
Yes, rankings are still important and can drive traffic to your site. However, this isn't the only metric you need to put your attention on. If you're asking how long does it take for your SEO strategy to work, you may be focusing on the wrong thing. You need to focus on outputs, not outcomes. Most SEO firms push only the output rankings because they can be emotionally sufficient.
However, they're worthless if they don't produce any sales or outcomes – things that you want. It's why you should work with an SEO professional or SEO firm that puts their attention on both outcomes and outputs.
What Should You Focus On As you can see, SEO has significantly changed, and the goal is to attain sales and leads, not just rankings. So, the real question needs to be: how long does it take for SEO to produce any sales and leads?
How Long Will SEO Take before It Really Begins Working
Okay, now you know the right question that you need to ask. The answer to this question is… it depends. It's a bit maddening, right? However, it's the truth. Any firm that tries to guarantee you results in a specified time is one you should run from.
Results are dependent upon several factors including but not limited to:
- How long your website has been active
- How much SEO was previously done on it
- What the current shape of the website
- How much content does it currently have
- What kind of link profile do you have
Bear in mind that two of the same industry-related websites can be vastly different from each other. However, the results you get from your SEO efforts could look similar to the instances below:
After 1 Month
Do some research and discovery. You want to look at your keyword strategy, do a website audit and make some plans. If this can be carried out quickly, you can start with the technical changes in the same month. This process can often take longer than a month, especially if you're carrying out some in-depth research.
After 2 Months
It's time to get started on the technical SEO side of the work – looking at the site audit to see what website modifications need to be made. There are some instances where you need to redo the website completely, and this can take months. Your other SEO activities need to be included in this overhaul – building content and link profile. If a complete site overhaul is necessary, you'll still have to be doing the SEO work.
There typically won't be any major results because the changes only make any impact once done.
After 3 Months
It's time to put your attention on content creation – FAQ, blogging, company information, building up your page content, etc. While you want to start on this typically after the planning and strategy is complete, sometimes it's the budget that keeps this from happening, which is where the technical overhaul comes into play. This is where you could see some rankings improvement. And, it's possible to translate those rankings into leads or sales. Also you should be adding to the process a social media management plan by this point to increase the traffic to the website.
But don't expect it "all" just yet!
After 4 Months
You still need to focus on creating/curating content, the technical aspects of the website optimization and the expansion of a healthy link profile (this may include eliminating the low-quality links). By this point in time, you should see a rise in rankings, traffic and lead generation. It may not be a significant improvement but enough to see that program working.
After 5 Months
You need to create a natural link profile as well as lead generation. You should continue with content creation and use media outreach. By now, you should be having more traffic from your SEO campaign and leads that grow because of it.
After 6 Months
At the six month mark, your traffic should be increased significantly (usually 3-4 times) from when you started. This will help with the conversion rate optimization to ensure traffic turns to leads as well as sales. From now on, the activities need to focus on content creation and promotion. What kind of activities you do will depend on your company and the website you've established.
The one thing most SEO firms do agree on, it can take between four and six months to see any kind of results. While this is typically true, you need to remember this is only a start of the results. Your SEO results will increase over time. The results you get after six months is going to be different than what you see at 12 months. In fact, you could see the results drop off a little bit. From here, you need to maintain the results – not just focus on increasing them.
Keep Pushing Through To Get Your Results
Too often companies don't consider the time and money it takes for SEO success. After all, it will take more than three months. Some companies will start their SEO campaign and, when they don't see any results in three months, quit. They tell themselves the money they are spending isn't worth it for the kind of results they're not getting.
When companies do that, they went through the whole process with unrealistic expectations. You need to budget at least six months' worth for SEO services. And, if you can't, you can put the money toward other useful things.
SEO should be considered a long-term marketing strategy, not a way to produce quick sales. With the right investment and understanding that it takes a long time to see results, you can come up with the best possible SEO marketing strategy that provides you with a high return on investment.