This is an obvious question when you’re making a considerable investment over time. How long does SEO take to work? The technical answer is SEO works from the moment work is effectively completed on the page.
The real question clients want to know is:
“At what point can I start seeing results?”
And the answer to this question varies from client to client. Sometimes it takes a lot of different practices to move the needle in ranking. Sometimes it takes only a few tweaks to a page or a really good backlink to significantly improve a page’s organic ranking.
To cover these facts, the answer that people get from most SEO companies is this:
“It will take 6 months to a year to see the full effects of an SEO campaign.”
There are more moving parts than what meets the eye
The reason this is the most accurate response is that it does take time to see the effects of many different practices being applied to your website. Think of the process in its most basic of categories (also referred to as the pillars of SEO):
- Keyword research
- Content creation
- On-page optimization
- Link building and promotion
Keyword research happens in the first month of a page being published (or re-optimized). Once the strategy is set into place the basic bones for the content are sent to be written into a blog post, resource content or a page on the website.
Content is then created to cover the topic in its entirety and with the intention of being the best piece of content that is aiming to rank for a specific keyword/ keyword topic. This takes more research, drafting and finalization.
Apart from optimizing the text on a page, there are images, meta tags and structured data to think about. Not to mention if you have a video or any other form of media on the page. If a competitor’s page has a tool or some other way of engaging visitors on their page, these are also methods that must be considered for inclusion to properly compete for the top position. The best SEO companies optimize pages not just for technical SEO but for the user experience as well.
Finally, building links to a page can take months (if not years in the highest levels of competition) before the quantity and quality of backlinks surpass the top pages. If we could just pile on thousands of links at once and rank at the top-we would all be doing it.
These are just the BASIC elements that go into an SEO campaign. Take a look at this diagram of on-page ranking factors that can influence the success of your page. Not every element is required in every situation. In competitive niches, these elements should be applied to increase the performance of your page.
Optimizing a page is not always a straight line
SEO isn’t always a straight line. There are some links that work well for sites and others that websites don’t react to at all. The process of traffic generation and improving organic ranking positions means guiding and “optimizing” the page to get the most search visibility possible.
When you consider the basic process for publishing a page, building links and then optimizing the results, it’s never a short-term project. For long-term results, there are no “magic bullets” or quick fixes to make (even though there are tweaks that get big results).
For this reason, most SEOs will safely say it takes 6-9 months (or up to a year in some cases) to get the results you’re looking for in the performance of your website.