SEO: How Long Does it Take to Start Working?

SEO: How Long Does it Take to Start Working?

While I was doing my weekly learning, I stumbled upon this article by Jeremy Knauff on Search Engine Journal about How Long Does SEO Take? And pretty much like any other SEOs in the planet, I’ve been asked the same question by clients especially those who are newbies in the digital world.

As much as I would love to pin down a definite timeline on when exactly SEO efforts will take effect, we simply can’t. Our knowledge, tools, and experience can only help us to a certain extent.

In the end, I just tell clients that on-page site optimization can take 2 to 3 months depending on the amount of work we need to fix on your site. External efforts (like link building, etc.) and blog article writing should be done religiously to keep your website on the right path.

As for those who ask me how long it will take to get a site to rank #1, I always try to go the ‘honesty’ route. “I simply can’t say.” It depends on the keyword difficulty and amount of competition. We have to push building links consistently and promotion should be done regularly.

Factors that Affect Your SEO Efforts

Several things influence your website’s performance on organic search. First, and definitely the most crucial one is Google’s ever changing algorithm. Google and other search engines always have always prioritized their users’ experience first – thus, the always updating algorithm. You think you’ve cracked it up now, wait till another update launches and you’re back to square one.

Amount and quality of your inbound links is probably the next strongest factor to monitor.

When I started in this industry, about 10 years ago, it’s all about the numbers game. The more links you have going in your site, the more authoritative your site looks on search engines, thus, they give you higher ranking for relevant keywords.

And then Penguin was introduced in 2012. This algo update targeted manipulative link building tactics and moved SEOs to work on improving their inbound link strategies. Blog commenting and other low quality link building strategies have been scrapped.

Most experts focused on acquiring higher quality links that usually can come off exchanging content with authoritative publishers (guest posting and content marketing), resource link building, link exchange, broken link building, and other outreach efforts.

And since we’re already on the subject, your website’s content quality is another area to monitor. However, you don’t really need to publish articles on a weekly basis. You’d want to focus on doing long form content at least twice a month just so you can keep things fresh on your site and provide relevance to your audience.

That’s the beauty of long form content. You can target as much keywords as you want as you cover as much relevant topic as you can in that subject matter. Since your content is well researched, you are providing value to your audience and improving their user experience. It’s hitting two birds with one stone.

Plus, it’s easier to pitch to blog authors and other subject mater experts. Other websites are more likely to link to you if your content is substantial. I have a client who has invested his time producing high quality content. It may have taken him years to get the results he wanted but it did pay off. Eventually, content marketers are linking to his content voluntarily.

Last, but not the least, consider your competition. If you’re already swamped with competition offline, expect that the market would be the same online. Although, don’t get discouraged. With the right strategy, and a little creativity, you can achieve your goals shorter than expected.

If you want a higher turn around for your investment, I would suggested tapping and using multiple marketing channels. Get data, check trends and find which ones effectively work for you and your customers.

So what’s the safest timeline to set for SEO?

Probably, the safest timeline we can come up with is about at least 3 to 6 months up to a year.

And that is if you’re super lucky – you have so many awesome content, you have a wide network of connections from authoritative sites (like news sites or major content publishers), and you have a massive following and you already have a brand. But if you are new in the industry, with a niche that’s super competitive, a year or more would be a good benchmark.

SEO caters to your long term goals. Just make sure to constantly pour your efforts in optimizing your site and improving user-experience, network and build connections with content publishers, and make your presence known on social media. One day, you’ll be glad you did.