Published on: April 05, 2021
How Long Does SEO Take to Produce Results?
So you’re thinking of getting SEO services.
Or perhaps you’re planning to do some SEO yourself?
Either way, you might be wondering:
“How long does SEO take to produce results?”
Well, we have some good news and bad news for you.
The bad news is that there is no definite answer to this.
There are just too many factors that go into a successful SEO campaign that it’s impossible to put a direct timeline of SEO success.
The good news?
There are definite signs that can help you gauge how much time and effort you’ll have to pour into SEO for it to work.
And that’s what we’re going to have a look at today.
How long does SEO take to produce results?
Let’s find out!
How Long Does SEO Take? A Quick Answer
Before jumping into how you can make an educated guess on how long your SEO campaign might take to succeed, let’s just give you a quick estimate:
Most SEO campaigns take 6-12 months to see results.
Well, that’s just how long SEO takes.
One thing that everybody should know about SEO is that it does NOT produce fast results.
Even the best SEO strategy in the world is going to take a while.
How can you guess how long the results from SEO will start coming in?
What Do Good SEO Results Look Like?
Another question we should answer is what exactly SEO results look like.
When do you know that your SEO activities are successful anyway?
Of course, the easiest way to see if things are working is if your website is gaining you a flood of new clients on autopilot.
That’s the ultimate goal of SEO.
But in reality, you’ll probably have to work on your SEO for years before that becomes a reality.
So while you wait, how do you know if your SEO investment is working?
There are several KPIs (key performance indicators) that you should look out for to know if your SEO.
These “goals” include:
- The number of relevant keywords you’re ranking for
- Your backlink profile
- The amount of traffic you’re getting
The Number of Relevant Keywords You’re Ranking For
The more relevant keywords you rank for, the more traffic you’ll get, the more potential customers you’ll have on your website.
That’s how SEO works.
But notice how we said “relevant.”
If you’re running an architecture firm, there’s no point in ranking for a keyword like “best shoes.”
Even if you win that keyword, the organic traffic you’ll get to your site will want nothing to do with your services.
Instead, you should be ranking for keywords that have to do with architecture.
That way, the people that find you in search engines will be the people who need your services.
Your Website’s Backlinks
For people who know nothing about SEO, “backlinks” might not sound like something important to you (check out our 5-minute link-building guide if you want to learn a bit about this).
But in the SEO world, these are critical for success.
The more backlinks your site gets, the more “votes of approval” you’ll be getting from other websites.
This tells Google that your site is trustworthy, thus prompting them to put you higher on the search engine results.
If you see your site getting more and more high-quality links, you know that it won’t be long before you start to see results that matter.
The Amount of Organic Traffic You’re Getting
Then, of course, there’s the amount of organic traffic you’re getting from Google and other search engines.
You know your SEO is successful if you get more relevant traffic.
In fact, if you’re talking strictly about SEO only, the amount of traffic you get is the only indicator of success.
Whether or not the traffic you get converts into customers now depends on how good your product is.
How to Gauge How Long Your SEO Efforts Will Work
Alright, so those are the KPIs.
Now how do you guess how long your SEO takes to work?
A lot of people ask us how long it’ll take before their SEO efforts pay off.
And, again, there is no straight answer.
But to help you get a better idea of how long SEO takes, here are five factors to keep in mind:
- How old your website is
- How healthy your current website is
- How much you are willing to spend on SEO
- The quality of your SEO strategy
- Your competition
Let’s have a closer look at each one.
How Old Is Your Website
Most people who come to us for SEO work already have a website.
And that’s great!
This is because getting to the top of search results will be a little easier and faster if you don’t have to build a website from scratch.
Building a website from thin air can sometimes take an entire month, maybe even two!
And not only that, but also, the older your website is, the more backlinks it’ll already have (most likely).
It’s always easier to rank a site if it already has some backlinks to start with.
But the age of your website isn’t the only factor you need to consider when it comes to how long your search engine optimization results will kick in, such as:
How Healthy Is Your Site
Most of the time, an old website will be easier to rank.
Most of the time.
On the contrary, if your website is packed with SEO errors, then it’ll take a while before you can hit the ground running.
It might even be faster to build a website from scratch than to fix up everything!
That’s why when hiring an SEO agency, you should always have them audit your site first.
Without a healthy website backbone to work on, your site won’t rank on Google even with new shiny content pumped in.
It’s vital to fix technical SEO errors before jumping into trying to rank for keywords.
That said, if your site is already old and is healthy in terms of technical SEO, winning keywords and shooting it up Google results shouldn’t take too much time!
Quick note: If you want a professional audit on your website, you can get one for FREE by signing up here!
How Much You Are Willing to Spend on SEO
Here the thing:
SEO has one of the best ROI numbers of all your digital marketing options.
Don’t believe us?
Check out Ahrefs’ comparison on SEO vs. PPC. There you can get an idea of just how much cheaper SEO is in the long run than other digital marketing strategies like PPC.
But back to the topic.
How fast your SEO efforts will work depends on how much you are willing to spend on it.
One thing you need to know is that SEO work never ends.
It’s a long-term strategy.
You keep pouring in work, and in 6-12 months, it’ll bring you results on autopilot.
But even once you start getting results, there’ll still always be something to fix, new content to write, and new ways to fight off competitors trying to beat you in the SERPs (search engine results pages).
Since there’s always work to do, the question then becomes:
How much work are you going to do in a month?
What’s your budget for SEO services?
Because yes, if you dump a million dollars on SEO every month, you’ll probably see results come in fast.
Now, you probably don’t have that much to spend on SEO.
But if your budget is $1,500/month for SEO, there’s only so much work that you can get done in a month.
That might just cover the technical SEO aspects of your site. Then the next month you can start working on adding new content.
However, if you go up to something like $5,000, you can probably fix technical issues, fix on-page SEO, get new content into your site, get good graphics, and more.
SEO pricing can get tricky.
Generally speaking, the more effort you need to put in, the higher the price will be. And the more effort you put in, the faster results from SEO will come in.
The Quality of Your SEO Strategy
Not every SEO company will provide you with good SEO results.
Some of them just don’t know what they’re doing.
Or, some of them might be using black hat techniques which can hurt your site’s ranking on search engines.
That’s why you should be very careful when choosing between SEO agencies.
Pick a poor one, and no matter how much money you give them, they won’t bring you any SEO results!
There are a set of SEO questions that you should ask before deciding which SEO to work with.
You’re going to need someone who knows what they’re doing for your SEO to work.
If you want to see those SEO results come in as quickly as possible, get an SEO agency that has worked with dozens of website owners and has a track record of delivering SEO success to them.
Last, but CERTAINLY not least, is your competition.
We put “certainly” on all caps because this is one of the most significant factors in determining how long it will take you to achieve SEO success.
It’s all about the industry you’re in.
If you’re selling something extremely niche – such as potatoes that you can print your face on – you’ll probably win every keyword you go after with minimal optimization efforts.
The same is true if you’re a local business in a low competition city. All you have to do is some local SEO basics and boom! You’ll appear on top of the Google map pack.
On the other hand, trying to rank in an industry such as motivational speaking or SaaS, you’re going to be up against some pretty stiff competition.
Take a look at the stats for the keyword “motivational speakers.”
9,800 people search this every year.
As a result, every motivational speaker will try to get these people’s attention by ranking for this keyword.
This brings the KD (keyword difficulty) up to 35, which means that if you’re going to join the fight, it’ll take time and effort to win.
Why You Shouldn’t Take Your Foot Off The Gas
Your website’s age.
Your website’s health.
Your budget for your website.
The quality of your SEO services.
And the competition your business has.
Those are the five factors that will determine how long your SEO takes to see results.
Combine all of those and you should have an educated guess of how long it’ll take before you top the search results and bring in qualified traffic.
However, there are a lot of curveballs that you can run into.
Remember, SEO is not static.
It’s not something that if you put x amount of effort, it’ll take you x months to win.
The Google algorithm is always changing.
Your competitors are going to keep fighting you.
And search trends are always going to keep shifting.
That’s why you can never take your foot off the gas.
Yes, even if you’re getting a decent amount of traffic from Google six months in, you shouldn’t stop.
If you do, you’ll drop places in the search results.
And what you’ve built will fall apart.
SEO success is not like advertising success. It’s not something that you achieve and then stop. It goes on and on and on.
Yes, once you start gaining traction, it’ll be easier for you to rank for good keywords and get more traffic.
But if you take your foot off the pedal?
You’ll lose out eventually.
Ready to Start Working on Your SEO?
SEO is not something you can “try” and wait to see if it’s doing well.
It’s either you commit to it, or you don’t.
Because a half-hearted SEO strategy that you work on for 3 months isn’t going to bring you anything.
It might sound intimidating, but SEO does work.
And the way to make it work is to take the first step!
Take the first step today, and in 6, 12, or 24 months, you’ll be glad you did.