How Long Does SEO Take to Start Working?
When Should I Start Seeing Results from SEO?
One of the most common questions we receive is “how long will it take for my website to rank high in search results?” While it’s a valid question, there’s unfortunately not a clean, straight-forward answer to it. There are many different variables that affect the time it takes for your website to reach the highly coveted, first page rankings. But if you’re willing to be patient, and invest in the right resources and tools, your website can become a marketing powerhouse that brings in several prospective customers.
Think of SEO as establishing credibility with search engines. You’re setting out to prove to Google, Bing, and Yahoo that your business is the most relevant, quality option out there for users. Using a unique combination of varying factors, search engines determine which businesses are worthy of first page results, and rank them based on relevancy to the user’s search.
What are the factors that influence the time it takes to rank in search results?
Generally speaking, we typically see results from ongoing SEO efforts anywhere from 4 – 8 months. Let’s delve into the factors that influence the time it takes for your website to start gaining website traffic from SEO:
- Baseline website traffic (or how many users on average visit your current website)
- Domain age (otherwise known as the length of time you’ve had your website)
- Geographic location (the locations you’re trying to target)
- Competition (how many other similar businesses are targeting the same keywords to be found in search results)
- Target market (your potential customers)
If you’re a new business, with a brand new domain name, without any business history, it may take a little longer to reap the benefits of higher web traffic from search. Depending upon the a combination of all the aforementioned factors, it could take up to 6 months to see meaningful results. Set yourself up for success in the beginning by making sure your website is built with SEO in mind.
If you’re an established business, it could take less time if your domain name has established some credibility with Google. It’s possible that a simple website redesign and content refresh could skyrocket your rankings much quicker than usual, depending upon the competition, geographic location, and target market you’re trying to reach.
How can I speed up the results of my SEO efforts?
Think of SEO as a 401K. The ongoing SEO efforts will build up over time and gradually deliver greater returns the longer you do it. The immediate impact of SEO efforts will be based solely on your content quality, how long your domain name has been in existence, the frequency of content updates on your website, how mobile-friendly your site is, as well as the ability for search engines to easily find and “read” your content.
There are several things you can do to help establish credibility with search engines, and start climbing those rankings:
Redesign your website
Google is all about providing a positive experience for their users. In fact, they’ll reward your website with higher rankings if it’s mobile friendly, provides quality content, and overall delivers a positive experience for your visitors. If your website loads slowly, is bogged down with large image and video files, or is filled with broken links, you’ll more than likely start to see a decline in search rankings (if you haven’t already!) very soon.
In order to deliver a positive user experience, you’ll need to gain a deeper understanding of your users, how they’ll use your website, and map out the best an easy-to-use, intuitive navigational structure. If you want to learn more about what it takes to build a Google-friendly site, take a peek at our recent blog post.
Verify your listing with Google
Make sure that you’ve claimed your business listing and that the displayed information is updated and accurate. This will help local customers easily locate and find you using Google Maps. Thanks to Google, here’s step-by-step instructions on how to claim your business listing.
Make sure your keyword strategy caters to your audience
You’ll need to consider how your customers will search for your products or services online. Now is a great time to bring out your buyer personas, if you have them to help you gain some perspective on what matters most to them.
Once you’ve identified your target keywords (for example: Best Italian Restaurant in Prescott, AZ), you’ll be able to make sure you use these keywords throughout your site’s content – where it’s relevant. When your website is being written, it should still feel conversational and approachable. Google has become increasingly aware of keyword-stuffing tactics, and they are now beginning to penalize sites who display this behavior. If it doesn’t feel natural in conversation, don’t place odd sentences or statements on your site for the sake of keyword placement. That’s a good way to get your website flagged right away.
Establish backlinking opportunities
When other credible sites direct their users to your website, it’s adding to your page’s perceived value. Think of each link other websites place on their site as a “vote of confidence” in favor of your website. These links are telling Google, and other search engines, that your website contains content that is both relevant and valuable to their users. Thus, increasing your credibility with search engines.
Press releases, writing blog articles for other websites, and product reviews are just a few ways to establish credibility for your website. Be careful though! You want to make sure that these websites you’re guest blogging on are both credible and relevant to your audience. A lot of SEO companies are still practicing poor SEO techniques where they place backlinks on spammy websites to attempt to trick search engines. And search engines are onto them. Google is starting to penalize these pages, and in turn, flag or blacklist the websites these spammy websites are linking to. Trust us, you don’t want to be blocked by Google.
Focus on building a customer reviews strategy
With 81% of users conducting online research prior to purchase, and 92% of buyers relying on reviews to help make a purchase decision, it’s pretty hard to deny that reviews aren’t meaningful to the sales funnel.
In any search, you can find honest reviews immediately upon searching for a company. Your business should consider implementing a reviews program that incentivizes your customers to leave reviews across relevant websites. (Google, TripAdvisor, Expedia, Urbanspoon, and more.) Yes, it’s unethical to ask for positive reviews. But you can definitely ask your customers if they’d be willing to leave an honest review in exchange for a prize, such as movie tickets or a free product. In the end, if you get a less-than-5-star review, take it as an opportunity to make improvements. There’s a great article about ways to ask your customers for an online review.
Keep your website content updated
Google is constantly scouring the interwebs for fresh, relevant and quality content. Writing helpful blog articles, creating branded, relevant videos, and keeping your site updated with current offers, sales, and promotions, are all ways to update your site’s content. Ideally, you’d have a mix of all the above to start seeing results from SEO.
Invest in ongoing web maintenance
Keeping your website plugins up-to-date, consistently checking for security risks or broken links, and maintaining the overall health of your website is critical to establishing credibility with search engines. If your website isn’t functioning properly, or it’s filled with security holes and broken links, you’ll most likely send your users running to a competitor’s site. Invest in ongoing maintenance to make sure your site is functioning properly, leaving no room for a negative online experience.
If you’re serious about climbing those search engine rankings and getting in front of more potential customers, expect it to take a little time. Building trusting relationships offline doesn’t happen overnight, and it’s no different in the online world. If your SEO services provider is seasoned, has proven case studies, and employs credible SEO tactics, trust them and be patient.