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How long does it take for SEO to work?

Just how long will it take for SEO to kick in?

So, you’ve given your website the long overdue SEO revamp that it needed. You’ve researched keywords, and then intelligently stitched them into content that answers your customer’s questions.

You’ve done it so well, that surely it can only be a matter of days (if not hours!) until you’re flying up the Google rankings?

You might give it a day or two and then try out your keywords in Google. Disappointingly, you’re still only coming up on page four of the results which, as you already know, is not where you need to be.

You give it a week, and you may have shuffled up a few places, but the changes haven’t had the immediate impact you expected. Has something gone wrong with your SEO, or is this just a delay we should expect?


Why does it take SEO so long to make an impact?

If your carefully-optimised content has failed to have the quick impact you were hoping, it’s important not to worry. Unlike regular marketing, SEO digital marketing operates to a different timescale and disseminates a wider recognition of your brand in different ways.

It takes Google time to not only recognise your website, but to assess the quality of its content too. It makes comparisons with similar websites, and makes a judgement about its relevance to particular search terms.

Every time you update your website with new and relevant content, you are beginning a process that ends with your website moving up the Google rankings. That is why a successful SEO strategy is an ongoing process, not a one-off event.

After an initial launch, or large-scale SEO revamp of your website, continually adding to or improving your SEO content will keep nudging you in the right direction. But it doesn’t happen overnight.


How do I know if SEO is working?

Traditionally, non-digital marketing strategies were easy to keep track of. You placed an advert either in printed or broadcast media, or perhaps handed out flyers, and then waited for new orders and enquiries to come in.

If the strategy wasn’t working, you perhaps pulled it or tweaked it until you found a formula that delivered the required results. With SEO, it’s a more difficult process to gauge.

The easiest way to check how your SEO is faring is to try searching for your Google keywords.

Try it one week after your SEO content has gone live, then again a fortnight later and see if anything has changed. Put in place a process to formally track the positions of the keywords for which you are trying to rank.

The traction your website receives will be more after 12 months, compared to what it receives after a few weeks.

How long do SEO changes take?

Even subtle changes to SEO can have a dramatic impact on where you appear in the rankings. Conversely, wholesale changes can barely shift you at all. In fact, anyone who tells you they can accurately predict how long it will take for your SEO to have an impact is probably not being completely honest.

There are lots of factors to consider, and in the world of Search Engine Optimisation, every website is unique. Ranking for a specific keyword could take anything from 24 hours to two years depending on your site’s history, your industry, the difficulty of the keyword and your location.

Generally speaking, SEO companies will often cautiously suggest that changes will take anywhere between four and six months to make an impact, but this is by no means an exact science.

The principle to remember is that the more carefully-tailored keyword content that you can write for your website, the more likely it is to climb the rankings.


How long does it take for Google to rank your page?

Before Google can rank your page, it needs to know that it exists in the first place.
Software programmes called ‘Googlebots’ crawl through millions of web pages, collecting and collating information which is then added to Google’s vast web index.

For a bot to collect this information, it needs to be able to read your website. When you conduct a search on Google, you’re actually searching through Google’s index rather than the whole web. Googlebots are continually crawling through webpages, so it’s likely your website will be discovered relatively quickly.

This is no guarantee that it will rank particularly highly, mind. In fact, on average it can take between 90 and 180 days for your website to feature in the top ranks of a keyword search, and even then a number of elements need to be in place.

The domain age, content quality and keyword competition all play a part. Attempting to circumvent the system can backfire, and Googlebots can tell when a website has been stuffed with keywords.

The smarter your SEO, and the higher the quality of your content, the faster your website will receive a decent ranking. After all, Google is trying to provide its users with the correct answers to the questions they are asking. If your website has those answers, there’s a much better chance that you will rank in the search results.


How long does SEO take to get results?

Ranking #1 for a small generic group of keywords is not the be all and end all of a SEO content strategy.

Over the past few years, SEO has become a lot less mechanical and more focused on delivering high-quality information.

Google wants to give its users answers to the questions that they’re searching for.
The more industry-specific questions you can answer as part of your SEO strategy, the quicker you will see more consistent results.

If you use your SEO strategy to not only achieve a high ranking in relevant search results, but to establish authority in a particular field, then you’re more likely to turn Google searches into customers and leads.

Your SEO content strategy is likely to deliver results slowly at the beginning, but will then gather pace as your authority grows and your presence in the Google rankings strengthens.

In short, you have to play the long game. However, when the results start turning in your favour, you will see that it is a game worth playing. With this in mind you can see that there is no simple answer to the question ‘how long does it take to get results’ however if you are working to a clear strategy and providing high quality answers that will help users, you should expect to start seeing initial results after six months, but the acid test typically comes after at least a year.


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Further reading on SEO

Aqueous Digital’s Guide to the Top 501 SEO and Digital Marketing Terms

Aqueous Digital’s Ultimate Guide to the cost of SEO in the UK

What is Technical SEO?

What is Local SEO?


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