Search engine optimization can take between 4 to 6 months on average to start showing results. But, good SEO is like compound interest and grows more as time goes on. Less competitive keywords can show improvements in as little as 3 weeks, while more competitive keywords can take up to a year.
The whole point of SEO is to provide brand visibility, authority, and ultimately, more conversions. It is an excellent way to make businesses more profitable without paying for ad space.
What Can You Expect From Your Efforts (And An Example Of How It Works)
The very nature of SEO is complex. Having a website alone is not enough to make search engines love it. Plus, there’s also the “organic” part of it (the actual relevance for your users).
Generally speaking, it is safe to say that you can start seeing some progress within 2-3 months. SEO is a game that takes time. Fortunately, even though it takes time to grow, results are long-lasting and compound over time.
To easily understand the nature of SEO, you have to understand what organic means.
Organic means you are not buying ads to The algorithms and machine learning technology used by Google are meant to emulate the way we act and do things online. When you use any of these services, they present you with the results they think it’s best for you.
And they try to do it in the most natural way possible.
For example, if a company has been around for 49 years, plus 20 years online, they have 5-star reviews on every website you can imagine, they have been mentioned on newspapers and blogs, and they constantly engage with their online followers. You can bet they will be ranking strong.
So, if you look for the “best plumber near me” they will show you the plumbers they think are the best solution for you.
And if search engines notice something that is not “natural” they basically vote against it.
Like when you pay $8 for 50,000 backlinks and all of them come from spam comments and scammy websites linking back to you. That will surely get you banned, by the way.
So, it’s crucial to set the right expectations when it comes to SEO. If you’re in a highly competitive industry with a lot of competitors in your area, you can bet it will take a while.
If you don’t have any competitors in your area, or barely a few, your SEO efforts will bring you results much faster.
Ranking #1 is not ultimate goal of SEO for local businesses
Ranking first on Google, Bing, and Yahoo has its advantages, of course. In fact, more than 90% of clicks will go to the results on the first page. But, what good would is that for your business, if out of all those visitors you’re not getting a single call or a new lead?
More so, why would you be disappointed about not getting in the first place if you already managed to increase your website traffic from 6 visitors each month, to over 150 + a good amount of calls?
So, it’s really not just about ranking 1st.
It is really about reaching your business goals and getting people to recognize you and your brand.
You know the saying: Out of sight, out of mind.
Take Into Account Where You Are Standing Right Now
First of all, are you barely starting or do you already have an online presence?
If you already have some kind of online presence, increasing your organic traffic results will be far easier than if you have just built your website. This is because you already have a solid ground to start on.
If you have a new website, or you have never worked on it before, chances are it will take a long time, especially if it is for a highly competitive industry in your area. It will be a long process and more steps are required for Google to notice you and start suggesting your website.
Now You Know Where You Are Standing, But, What Are You Going To Do?
What kind of optimizations are you doing and what do you plan on doing?
Among everything else, results depend on what type of optimizations you do. Creating new content, optimizing existing content, improving user experience, trying a new keyword strategy, improving website loading speed, adding metadata and microformats, and many more.
Depending on which ones you’re doing, results will be seen at different paces, and these aren’t easy to predict.
Some of these optimizations are more relevant and will yield better ranking results, others, might not be as relevant but will make people stay longer on your website or even trust you more.
Relevancy And The Indexing Process
Even if you publish your website today that doesn’t mean that Google or any other search engine will index it right away. In fact, even if you already have a popular website, sometimes it can take from hours to weeks for search engines to crawl it and index it.
Indexing plays a big role in having your website shown on the results page. After all, if they don’t even know your website is out there, how could they even show it?
Once they know your website is there, the site has to be relevant enough to a search term so engines deem it good enough to be shown on the search results page (SERP).
Also read: The 4 Steps to Indexing and Ranking
Conclusion on How Long To Wait for SEO Results
In-depth SEO is complex and somewhat unpredictable. With over 500 yearly updates to the search algorithm and so many ranking factors, you can’t just build a website and expect it to be everyone’s favorite.
- For some businesses with less competition, 2-3 months can be enough to start seeing some results. 6 months or more to start seeing serious results. More than a year to start enjoying the benefits of compound growth.
- Businesses with more competition can take 6 months to start seeing results, 9-12 months to start seeing serious results, and more to enjoy the benefits of exponential growth.
Either way, SEO should always be part of every integrated marketing effort.
It doesn’t need to be a non-stop hyper-aggressive strategy where you solely rely on SEO (just as you can’t rely solely on paid media). That’s the equivalent of having a one-legged stool.
Constant work wins the race here, especially if you align SEO efforts with the rest of your other marketing efforts.