How Long Does SEO Take?

How long does SEO take? The short answer is 6 – 12 months. The long answer is it depends.

The dream of every website owner is to see their website rank #1 on search engines. While having big dreams is good, big dreams also require investments in time and expertise otherwise it is just a dream. The demand of SEO is that of a continuous work in progress. The work never truly ends even when the results start to show.

Some website owners have reported to have seen changes in a matter of weeks of doing SEO. Some others have reported seeing changes in 6 – 12 months. While none of both claims are completely impossible, none either is the yardstick. A number of factors come into play to answer the question “how long does SEO take”.

How Long Does SEO Take?

Below are 4 broad factors we’ve discovered determines how soon before SEO works for any website.

  • Website Age and Authority
  • Link Profile
  • Competition
  • Content Strategy

Let us now look at these factors in more detail to see how each of them relates to the question of how long does SEO take. This will also provide some valuable insights to beginners on how to do SEO.

1. Authority and Age of Website

A careful study of how long before a new website ranks on Google revealed that older websites ranked faster than newer websites on search results. An advantage of older domains is having opportunity to build domain authority over time. New domains are generally characterized by low domain authority.

Matt Cutts, a former Google Engineer once revealed that indeed it takes a while for newer websites to become visible in search results.

According to Matt Cutts:

The difference between a domain that’s six months old vs one-year-old is really not that big at all. As long as you’ve been around for at least a couple of months, you should be able to make sure that you can show up in search results.

Domain authority is largely a function of link profile of the website and amount of trust built over time. This is by no means a discouragement for new domain owners. The secret is to stay on track, publish great contents and build your link profile and trust. Over time, you should be able to see changes with your SEO efforts.

Although it is difficult for new domains with low domain authority to compete equally here but with patience the young shall grow too.

2. Link Profile

Link building especially backlinks is just about the most challenging SEO strategy to execute. Unfortunately, this is an SEO practice no prospective successful website owner can do without. Backlinks are an important component of Google algorithm. So, if you want to rank high on Google, you must build your link profile.

In a bid to build links, a lot of new website owners have been tempted to employ some black hat techniques to rank on Google. However, the consequences that comes with such practice when things go wrong outlive its presumed advantage.

Older domains benefit more from SEO efforts on account of their general link profile. It is worth knowing that Google algorithms have been programmed to detect quality backlinks. So, it really would hurt your SEO to pursue after low-quality links from disreputable websites.

To build quality backlinks, develop and publish quality and SEO contents regularly and promote through social media channels for more engagement. While this might seem like the longer route, the goal is to make your website known. In the long run when you’ve earned trust, your backlinks will naturally begin to grow.

3. Competition

The existing competition is a major factor that must be considered before attempting to answer the question “how long does it take for SEO to work”. If your niche has a greater segregation of high profile competitors, it could take longer for your SEO efforts to gain recognition from search engines.

Most successful businesses thrive by challenging the competition. You can learn a lot by spying on your competitor’s online strategy. While it is true that you can’t completely discover their secrets, you can gain useful insight into their SEO practices such as keyword and content marketing strategies.

Although this seems like a long shot towards gaining ascendancy on search engines, the good news is that it is worth it. Knowing how to spy on your competitor’s online strategy will definitely give you valuable insights on how to rank on Google fast. In some cases, if your competitors’ rank for high volume keywords, you might need to carve out a niche for yourself by learning how to choose keywords for yourself.

4. Content Strategy

Content is king when it comes to SEO. Over the years, both search engines and search engine users have developed preference for great contents.

Just as users will recognize the content they are looking for when they find it, search engines have also been programmed to do likewise. Google algorithm detect when contents do not meet users’ needs by the amount of time it takes users to ditch a webpage (bounce rate).

If your website has been plagued by a high percentage of bounce rate in the past, you’ll need to fix your content strategy. Contents are rated by their ability to meet a user’s needs. This is where keyword saturation plays an important role in telling search engines what your content is about. Google rates web pages based on an E-A-T profile. E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness of both the website and author of the content.

To improve your E-A-T profile, you need to publish only great contents that are in line with Google’s Quality Raters Guidelines.


How long does SEO take to work? How long does it take to rank on Google? How long does it take to get organic traffic?

All these are one and the same question but there’s no telling how long any of these could take. It all depends on your website niche, competition and the amount of correct SEO  efforts you’re putting in. The most important thing is to learn how to do SEO. The fact that SEO requirements are constantly changing doesn’t help too.

However, even though there’s no definitive timing for how long SEO takes to work, working with these 5 Essential Elements to Improve Your SEO in 2020 can help you rank fast on Google.

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