How long does it take for SEO results to be seen?
If you’re reading this article, you’ve probably already have SEO in the works, or you’re thinking about making it a part of your overall digital marketing strategy. And, you probably want a straight answer, e.g. X weeks or X months.
Well, let us give it to you straight: there is no straight answer.
BUT, we can give you a month-by-month breakdown of what you can reasonably expect to happen once you set an SEO plan into motion. And we’ll give you the reasons why.
Fact: SEO is not designed for quick results.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, as the saying goes, and neither are great search engine results rankings. The reality is that SEO is not the work of a moment, and anyone who promises quick results is selling something.
SEO is like a serious relationship—you have to commit, and commit for the long term. If you’re in it for quick thrills, or you believe in “no. 1 at first sight”, well, look elsewhere. If you get into SEO, you need to have the right mindset, which means knowing what SEO is really for, and the kinds of results you can expect from it.
SEO is all about establishing yourself as an authority in your particular field. It’s about showing people why they should choose you and not your competitor. True, you may be able to generate leads and conversions once you have established your authority using SEO strategies, but this is not necessarily the raison d'être or the end goal of SEO.
SEO is all about making sure you are found on search engines, and that when you’re found, your target audience comes to regard your business, over time, as the go-to for their needs. It’s not about making a quick sale. It’s not about insta-leads. It’s not about an overnight traffic boost. (That is, if your SEO is done right.)
And just as Einstein wasn’t regarded as an authority in Physics in a day, and Michelangelo didn’t make his name in the art world in a week, SEO won’t establish your authority just like that. Like any great undertaking, it takes time and patient, consistent, carefully planned effort. And just like the Theory of Relativity or the Sistine Chapel ceiling, the results of that patient, consistent, carefully planned effort are well worth it.
What determines the length of time it takes for SEO to show results?
It’s not that we don’t understand why you’d ask how long SEO results take. After all, the money you spend on SEO services doesn’t grow on trees, and when you pay for an apple pie, it makes sense to ask how much longer it’ll be before the pie comes out of the oven.
But there’s quite a lot that goes into an SEO pie, which is why giving a straight answer like “6 weeks” or “6 months” just isn’t possible. Allow us to show you 3 main factors that affect the speed of your SEO results.
1. How long you’ve been doing SEO.
Sites that have been around for a while (i.e. years) generally have an easier time of it in terms of SEO, versus a spanking new website that has yet to build its online presence or reputation.
This doesn’t mean, however, that you can sit back and relax knowing your website’s got the mileage, because it could also mean that your site needs to be updated for SEO.
Having a solid SEO strategy in place, already, allows you to “hit the ground running” on your way to the top of the rankings. Note that we said “solid”, because there are, shall we say, “not-so-solid” SEO methods out there that might work for the moment, but actually damage your SEO in the long run.
2. What you’ve been doing for SEO.
Having a solid SEO strategy means using up-to-date, SEO best practices. SEO is an evolving animal, which means if your SEO methods hail from the dino age (e.g. keyword stuffing), it could take a few thousand millennia longer for your ranking to get up to speed.
What you’re doing to optimise your site for search invariably includes how much you’re spending on your SEO. Whether you do it yourself, or get an agency to do your SEO for you, how much you spend is invariably linked to how much time and effort you spend on SEO, as well.
Much of this time and effort (and therefore the expense) goes into creating content, and the kind of content you create bears on how well your SEO performs. Poor quality content drives your website visitors away, and when Google sees that your site can’t hold your users’ attention for very long, your ranking is likely to suffer.
Other things that you may or may not be doing that could cause Google to push you up or down the results pages include link building, making your website mobile-friendly, and securing your website with an https certificate.
3. How competitive your industry is.
If you’re selling, say, shoes, t-shirts, burgers, or anything else that a gazillion other businesses are selling, then you know how fierce the competition is—and the competition online is no different.
Businesses in highly saturated industries will naturally find it more difficult to make headway in their SEO efforts for the simple reason that several other websites in your industry are fighting to rank for the same search terms as you.
This also holds true in terms of the physical location of your business. If, say, you run a clinic in an area where there are lots of clinics offering the same services as you are, your SEO will have to work harder—especially if those other clinics are working on their SEO, too.
So when I can see results from SEO?
Having understood the factors that affect the speed at which results from SEO are achieved, it’s easy to appreciate how those factors differ from business to business, or from website to website. Even if two websites in the same industry were published on the same day, no websites are ever really the same—they’ll be worked on by different people with different approaches to SEO.
This doesn’t mean, however, that SEO is completely unpredictable, and the results are left completely to chance. Here’s a table that shows the kind of results you can expect from a solid SEO strategy over a 12-month period.
These results vary according to the Key Performance Indicators or KPI’s set for each month, which are metrics you can check on to find out whether your SEO strategy is headed in the right direction. See, it’s not enough to just wait for your ranking to go up; you need to be sure that what you’re doing is contributing to its rise, even if the results may not be apparent, yet.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
The SEO tasks that are performed during each month likewise vary according to those KPI’s—much like, if a clinic wants to generate X dollars in revenue in a certain quarter, one KPI would be the number of procedures performed. The resulting KPI’s per month will depend on how well the corresponding SEO tasks were performed.
We’ve been helping medical practices and other businesses with their SEO efforts as part of their overall digital marketing strategy for years. We’ve helped them to establish their authority within their respective fields, and more importantly, we’ve helped them to build long and lasting relationships with audiences by helping them to find the quality information they’re looking for.
Working with us for your SEO means not using “get-ranked-quick” schemes, but steadily building up your business’ online presence—slowly, maybe. But definitely, surely.
About the Author
A Mechanical Engineer by training who graduated from the Nanyang Technological University. With over 15 years of experience working in Start-Ups, SMEs and MNCs, he has driven sales revenue and leads across the Asia Pacific region. Shei Wah was one of the SEO Speakers at the first Search Engine Strategies Conference 2011 held in Singapore. As Managing Director, he aims to establish NEO360 in all of the world’s major cities. Even as he works toward this goal, Shei Wah also dreams of his children’s future happiness, and unwinds by doing calisthenics with his former school buddies three times a week.