Ahrefs conducted a poll on this very topic three months ago.
Over 4300 people responded to the poll, and the results were very interesting.
Here are the results:
- 1 to 3 months – 16%
- 3 to 6 months – 46%
- 6 to 9 months – 21%
- 12+ months – 17%
- 1 to 3 months – 18.3%
- 3 to 6 months – 41.3%
- 6 to 9 months – 22%
- 12+ months – 18.3%
As you can see from the results, a majority of people (about 46%) believe that it takes 3 to 6 months to see results from SEO.
However, a significant minority (about 18%) believe it takes 12 months or more to see the results.
The poll data shows a lot of variation in how long people believe it takes to see SEO results.
The reality is that there is no definite answer to this question.
How long SEO results take to show up depends on several factors, including the following:
- The competitiveness of your industry
- The quality of your website
- Your SEO strategy
- Your budget
- And so on
But Why Does it Have to Take that Long?
You might be wondering why it takes so long to see results from SEO.
After all, you’ve made some changes to your website, and you’re doing everything right — so why isn’t Google rewarding you with higher rankings and more traffic?
The answer is that SEO isn’t advertising.
Advertising is immediate.
You can create an ad, put it on TV, and see results the next day.
SEO doesn’t work like that.
Google’s goal is to provide the best possible experience for its users.
That means giving them the most relevant and accurate results for their search queries.
To do that, Google has to crawl and index all of the websites on the internet, which takes a while.
Then, they use their algorithms to determine which websites should rank for each query.
The process of crawling, indexing, and ranking websites can take months.
Before Google ranks you at the #1 spot, you must demonstrate that your website is the best possible result for that query.
And that takes time.
SEO is an Investment, Not a Cost.
One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is viewing SEO as a cost.
They see it as an expense they must pay to get results.
That is a mistake.
SEO is an investment, not a cost.
As with any investment, results take time to show. Plus, nothing is guaranteed.
However, if you’re patient and continue investing in SEO correctly, the effort should pay off.
SEO can be a great way to build long-term organic growth for your business.
It’s not a quick fix, but it’s a worthwhile investment.
How Long Does SEO take to work Depends on So Many Factors
Ultimately, how long it takes for SEO to work depends on you.
There is no magic number of days or weeks you will start seeing results.
It all depends on the factors mentioned earlier — your industry, website, SEO strategy, and budget.
#1. New Vs. Old Website
If you have a brand-new website, it will take longer for SEO to work.
That’s because you’re starting from scratch.
You have no authority, no backlinks, and you’re competing with people who have been in the industry for longer.
Building up your authority and getting Google to trust your website will take some time.
Ranking an already existing website is easier because you already have some authority.
You might have backlinks, and you’re not starting from scratch.
The problem arises when your website is outdated, not optimized for SEO, and not mobile-friendly.
In such a case, your website will be working against your SEO effort, which means you must put in extra work to achieve the same results with a well-optimized site.
#2. The Competition
The competition in your industry plays a big role in how long it takes for SEO to work.
It will take longer to rank if you’re in a highly competitive industry because everyone is fighting to rank for the same set of keywords.
Remember, SEO is a zero-sum game.
For every website that ranks on the first page, another website gets pushed to the second page.
And yes, you’re only as successful as the lacklustre SEO efforts of your competitors.
The less competitive your industry is, the easier it will be to rank.
And the opposite is true.
Say you’re competing with the likes of Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour.
You might never rank for some of your target keywords because they’re too competitive. Their websites are well-built, with thousands of high-authority backlinks and a lot of brand equity.
You can still rank for other, less competitive keywords. But it’s going to take time and effort.
On the other hand, if you’re in a less competitive industry, you might be able to rank quickly.
That’s because fewer websites are competing for the same keywords.
How to determine the level of competition in your industry?
Simple, use the keyword difficulty (KD) score.
The KD score is a number between 1 and 100 that shows you the difficulty of ranking for a certain keyword.
The higher the number, the more difficult it is to rank.
For example, ranking for the keyword “SEO” has a KD score of 97 on Ahrefs. And yes, you’re competing with the likes of Moz, HubSpot, and Search Engine Journal, each with thousands of high DA backlinks to beat.
You might climb a few steps on the SERP, but you may never live to rank on the first page.
On the other hand, “SEO tips for startups” has a KD score of 22. That’s medium difficulty and quite doable.
Even though the search volume is low (2800 monthly searches), you have a good chance of making it to the first page. And that’s all that matters.
The level of competition in your industry will determine how long it takes for SEO to work.
#3. Your SEO Strategy
Your SEO strategy also plays a role in how long it takes for SEO to work.
If your strategy is good, then you have won half the battle. If your strategy is bad, well, you get the picture.
A good SEO strategy will help you rank quickly and effectively.
But what makes an effective SEO strategy?
An effective SEO strategy has three components:
On-page optimization: Every page on your website must be optimized for SEO. That means you must use the right keyword, write compelling copy, and format your content correctly. That goes for your blog posts, product pages, and category pages.
Technical SEO: Technical SEO is the foundation of any good SEO strategy. If your website is not technically sound, you’ll have a hard time ranking it. You must ensure your website is fast, mobile-friendly, and has no broken links or errors.
Off-page SEO: Off-page SEO is the process of building backlinks to your website. The more high-quality backlinks you have, the higher you’ll rank on Google.
If you want SEO to work quickly, you must figure out how to integrate all three components into your strategy.
And that’s not as easy as it sounds.
You must do the work and research to find the right keywords, write great content, and network to build high-quality backlinks.
You can begin by working on a detailed plan of how you’re going to optimize your website for SEO.
Start with on-page optimization and work your way up.
Or you can hire an SEO agency to do the heavy lifting for you. Agencies have the resources and experience to do the job quickly and effectively.
#4. Your Resources
The more resources — time, money, and workforce — you can invest in SEO, the faster it will work.
For example, if you have more talented content writers, you’ll churn out more blog posts. More blog posts mean more chances to rank for various keywords and get more backlinks.
The same goes for money. If you have a larger budget, you can invest in PPC ads, hire an SEO agency, or have a dedicated team for backlinking.
Having a reasonable budget also means investing in high-end SEO tools that make your life easier and more efficient and help you get better results.
The possibilities are endless.
But if you’re working with a limited budget, that’s okay too.
You can still get good results with creativity and hard work.
#5. Your Execution
Lastly, your execution will determine how quickly SEO works for you.
You can have the best strategy and resources, but your SEO efforts will be all for naught if you don’t execute them correctly.
Make sure you’re consistent with your SEO efforts. That means publishing new blog posts regularly, working on technical SEO, and building backlinks regularly.
SEO is a long-term game. And the only way to win is by being consistent and patient.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your SEO efforts.
So, how long does it take for SEO to work?
The answer is: it depends. But if you’re willing to put in the hard work and be consistent, you should see results within 4 to 12 months.
Of course, the level of competition in your industry, your SEO strategy, your resources, and your execution will all play a role in how long it takes for SEO to work.
10 Techniques to Help You Speed Up Your SEO Results
SEO is hard work.
That’s no secret.
It’s an ongoing process, too. So even if you’ve been at it for a while, you can’t just sit back and relax.
The ever-changing landscape of SEO means there’s always more to learn, more to do, and more to stay on top of.
But don’t despair.
Even though SEO can be challenging, specific techniques you could employ would increase your chances of success.
In this blog post, we’ll share 10 of those techniques with you.
#1. Focus on Longtail Keywords with Low KD Score
Unless you’re a big brand with a household name, it won’t be easy to rank for broad, generic keywords.
For example, if you sell shoes, there’s no way you will rank for the keyword “shoes.”
But you might be able to rank for “women’s running shoes size 9.”
That’s an example of a longtail keyword.
Longtail keywords are longer, more specific phrases that are less competitive and easier to rank for.
They may get less traffic than broad keywords, but they’re much easier to rank for. And the traffic you do get will be much more targeted and likely to convert.
To find longtail keywords, start by brainstorming a list of seed keywords related to your business.
Then, use a keyword research tool like Moz Keyword Explorer or Google Keywords Planner to find longtail keywords with low KD scores.
KD stands for keyword difficulty, a score that shows how difficult it would be to rank for a particular keyword.
The lower the KD score, the easier it should be to rank for that keyword.
#2. Get Backlinks by Leaving Opinions
This is perhaps the cheapest and quickest way to get high-quality backlinks.
The idea is to think of all the places or companies that you’ve ever bought something from.
Once you have a list, go to their website and find their “testimonial” section. See if they accept testimonials from customers.
If they do, write a positive review of your experience with their company or product.
Be sure to include a link back to your website.
Most companies will be happy to post your testimonial on their site, and you’ll get a high-quality backlink.
The key is to find a medium-sized company that does this, as large companies are more likely to have strict guidelines about the type of testimonials they accept.
#3. With Every New Post that You Publish, Write a Guest blog of the Same
If you have the time and resources, one of the best things you can do for your SEO is to write a guest blog post for every new post you publish.
The idea is simple:
Say you just published a blog post about “5 Ways to Improve Your memory.”
Now, go to Google and search for “guest blog memory.”
You should see a list of sites that accept guest blog posts about memory.
Pick one or two of these sites and pitch them your idea for a guest blog post.
If they accept your pitch, write the guest blog post and include a link back to your original blog post.
#4. Find and Fix Technical SEO Issues
Technical SEO is the process of making sure that your website is optimized for search engines.
That includes things like optimizing your title tags, meta descriptions, and images.
It also includes ensuring that your website is fast, mobile-friendly, and free of errors.
You can use several tools to find and fix technical SEO issues on your website.
Two of the best are Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool and Moz’SEO Toolbar.
Both tools will give you a list of things you need to fix on your website to improve your SEO.
It’s an effective way to get high-quality backlinks and to get your original blog post in front of a new audience.
#5. Rank with the Authority of Another Site
Whenever you try to rank with an authority score of 0 or 1, Google will chuckle and give your site a big ol’ “Nope.”
It will make you work extra hard for every last scrap of authority.
So, instead of ranking your site from scratch, try to find a way to piggyback off another authority site.
Imagine you write a great song. You could go door to door, trying to get people to listen to it.
Or you could get Taylor Swift to tweet about it.
Guess which one is going to be more effective?
The same principle applies to SEO.
You can begin by writing an excellent article (10X better than the average article on that topic).
Then, look for authority sites that accept guest blogs and pitch them your article.
If they accept it, you’ll get a high-quality backlink, and their authority will rub off on yours.
The article will rank faster and better, and you’ll get more traffic.
It’s a win-win situation.
#5. Buy Positions, Not Articles
When it comes to SEO, many snake oil salesman out there are peddling “black hat” SEO techniques that don’t work.
One of the most popular is buying articles from content farms and then putting your website’s link in the article.
That is a waste of time and money.
The articles are usually low quality, and the links don’t do anything to help your SEO.
So, save your money and don’t buy articles to get links, as doing so will only hurt your SEO in the long run.
So, instead of buying articles, focus on buying positions.
Focus on getting your website featured on high-quality websites and in directories relevant to your industry.
For example, if you have a website about dog grooming, you should focus on getting your site listed on high-quality pet websites and directories.
The idea is to identify a few ranking websites, reach out to them, and see if you can get them to link to your website.
It’s very unlikely they’ll agree to sell you the links, especially if they rank in positions 1, 2, and 3, but there’s no harm in trying.
The worst they can say is “no.”
Here’s a simple email template you can use to reach out to these websites:
I was recently looking for websites about dog grooming, and I came across your website. I really like it!
I also have a website about dog grooming that your visitors would find useful.
Would you be interested in linking to my website?
If so, let me know, and I’ll send you the URL.
Thank you for your time,
#6. Find SEO Keywords Where the Neglected Site Ranks
Your work as an SEO doesn’t end with you getting your site to rank on the first page of Google.
It starts there.
You see, once you get your site to rank on the first page, you must ensure that it stays there.
You must constantly update the ranking piece with new and better content, build backlinks, and keep an eye out for competition.
The goal is to stay ahead of them, so you don’t lose your ranking.
It’s one thing to get to the first page.
It’s another thing to stay there.
However, only a few SEOs understand this.
The vast majority are so focused on getting their site to rank that they don’t even think about what happens afterward — those are the SEOs to beat.
To do this, you need to find keywords where the top-ranking site is neglected.
In other words, you should find keywords where the top-ranking site doesn’t have any backlinks or social signals or hasn’t been updated for a while.
Forget about keyword difficulty for a while and instead focus on analysing some of the top-ranking websites:
When was the Article/Page Last Updated: If the content hasn’t been updated in the last six months, it’s likely that the website is neglected and that its owner doesn’t care much about its rank position.
Look at the number of Backlinks: If the website has very few backlinks, it’s likely neglected.
Look at Social Shares: How many times has the Article/Page been shared on social media?
If it has very few social shares, then the chances are good the site’s owner doesn’t care much about its rank position.
Discover its Business Model: The best thing that can ever happen to you is to find out the site’s owner isn’t interested in making money with its content.
That usually happens with hobby sites or with non-commercial organisations.
For example, you might find a site about hiking that ranks for many keywords but doesn’t have any commercial intent.
In this case, you can try to contact the site’s owner and offer to buy the site from them.
Or, you can try to negotiate a link deal.
The point is there are a lot of possibilities once you’ve discovered the business model of the neglected site.
Assess the Quality of the Site’s Content: This is a very important step because it will determine whether or not you can outrank the neglected site.
You need to assess the quality of the content and see if it’s something you can improve upon.
If it is, you have a good chance of ranking above the neglected site.
#7. Focus only on a Couple of Pieces
Quality over quantity, always.
In other words, you’re better off having a couple of high-quality backlinks than a bunch of low-quality ones.
The idea is to focus on a few key pieces of content and ensure they’re the best they can be. Optimize, update, and promote these pieces to rank higher, and optimize them even more so they can stay there.
Use GSC to identify pages that rank on positions 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. You want to optimize these pages, get other sites to link to them, and turn them into power pages.
You can also use Ahrefs or Majestic to find these same opportunities, but GSC is my favourite because it’s free and gives you many insights that the other two don’t.
If it’s a short piece, add more content to it.
If it’s a long piece, break it down into several smaller pieces and promote each separately.