“Are we there yet?”
That simple phrase may take you back to family road trips, spending hours on the road that seemed to stretch on for days.
And, of course, there was that little voice coming from the backseat, whining impatiently until the trip was over.
But, have you ever caught yourself using that same phrase when it comes to SEO?
“Are we there yet?”
“How long until we get there?”
Hopefully, when you dove into the world of SEO, you set clear ROI goals that would indicate when you’d “arrived.”
Once you started work on improving your website’s SEO, it probably wasn’t long until the question came up:
How long does SEO take in order to see the results we’re looking for?
Today, we’re going to dissect exactly how long SEO takes to work.
And if you’re still feeling impatient, I’ve also got some of the best tips to increase the speed of your SEO results.
Let’s get started!
How Long Does SEO Take? Answers and Tips for the Impatient
The Short Answer
So, how long does SEO take to see results?
Actually, the short answer is this:
The time it takes to see the effects of your SEO efforts depends on several different factors.
Most people think of SEO like a journey from point A to point B.
However, SEO is more like a creative hobby, such as painting.
What does that mean?
Think about this:
The goal of any painter is to create beautiful results from hard work.
However, this isn’t a once-and-done thing. A good painter keeps improving as they work.
Thus, the more effort they put into painting, and the longer they paint, the better their results will be.
SEO is the same.
The general consensus among SEOs is that you’ll probably start to see some results at about 4-6 months of consistent work.
However, the longer you work at SEO, the better results you’ll see.
So, what can make your wait for SEO results longer or shorter? Let’s talk about some of those factors.
The Long Answer: What Affects the SEO Timeline?
Saturation of the Subject
When your main goal is to rank higher in the SERPs, you’ll need to beat out the other competition in order to accomplish it.
So, how much competition will you need to beat?
Obviously, if your main topic has low competition, you’ll be able to reach higher in the SERPs in less time.
And if there’s a lot of competition to beat?
At the very beginning of your SEO efforts, you’ll probably notice your rank increase dramatically, beating out very low-ranking pages. However, the closer you get to the first page of Google, the more difficult it’ll be to beat each competitor.
If your business is in a sector that’s thoroughly saturated online, don’t throw in the towel just yet.
Selecting longtail keywords is one of the best ways to get around the competition and rank higher in less time, even in a subject with a lot of competition. We’ll talk more about this strategy below.
Local or Global
It’s much easier to win a race against 30 runners than a race against 300 runners.
The same is true with SEO: When you’re trying to rank high for one specific location, it can be much easier than trying to rank high for worldwide searches.
So, where exactly are you focusing your efforts?
Local businesses have the advantage of narrowing themselves to a specific geographic region. This eliminates most of the competition for them.
On the other hand, worldwide (or even nationwide) results are much harder to get, and will thus take more time and effort.
The Amount of Content You Produce
Much of SEO is based around the use of keywords. So, it makes sense that producing more content gives you the opportunity to use more keywords, thus improving your rank.
Long-form content in particular has seen great results in SERPs.
Of course, not all your content has to be 3,000-word ultimate guides. But your content should always live up to its promises. So, if you promise to explain a topic thoroughly, your article will only rank if it accomplishes that.
Another reason why content affects how long SEO takes to work involves the negative side: keyword stuffing.
When you produce content that’s stuffed with keywords in unnatural places, this will slow down (if not stall) your SEO results.
Producing regular, authoritative content that delivers on its promise builds trust in your website, and helps your rank. We’ll talk more about how to do this below.
Backlinks to Your Website
It’s no surprise that backlinks are on our list, as this has been touted as one of the most important ranking factors for Google currently.
The more authoritative backlinks that are linking back to your site, the better your website’s SEO will be.
Once again, though, there can be negative results from backlinks which can slow your progress.
Backlinks will hurt your SEO results when they’re low quality, irrelevant or spammy.
So, make sure that your website only has backlinks coming in from websites with authority.
You can check out the quality of your backlinks with Monitor Backlinks, and see the Domain Authority, Page Authority, Spam Score and MozRank of any links coming in to your website.
Pick up a 30-day free trial here if you don’t have an account yet!
In short: Quality backlinks will help you see faster SEO results, while spammy backlinks will seriously slow down or even do damage to your SEO efforts.
Age and Quality of the Website
One ranking factor that Google watches is the age of a website. So, if your website is brand new, it’ll take some months before you see any results because you don’t have a strong online reputation yet.
However, if your SEO efforts are starting on a domain that’s already a few months—or even better, a few years—old, that could help you see results faster.
The quality of your website when you start working with it will also make a huge difference to how long SEO takes for your business.
That includes important factors like site speed and security, which indicate a strong, high-quality site.
Having a site that loads quickly is already a good start. You should also consider having an HTTPS certificate, which means your website is more secure and builds trust in your domain.
The Methods You’re Using
Quick link building schemes and copying content from other websites, along with other questionable practices, might seem like shortcuts that will get you to your destination faster.
But remember: SEO is not a one-time trip, as we mentioned above.
Sure, using questionable SEO methods might get you some quick results. However, these won’t last into the long term. Using these methods will eventually result in a penalty from Google, which will ruin your SEO efforts.
In short: It’s not worth it.
Building up a working knowledge of SEO best practices and learning how to implement those in an ongoing SEO effort is the best way to improve your rank.
It might be slower, but the results you get from using proven SEO methods will last long into the future.
So, how long does SEO take? It all depends on these factors:
Still looking for ways to speed up your SEO results? Let’s discuss some of our top tips for fast SEO results.
Top 5 Tips to See Faster SEO Results
1. Aim for the Right Keywords
Keywords are an essential part of your SEO strategy.
So, how do you know if you’re aiming for the right ones?
Above, we talked about how competition can affect your ability to rank for certain keywords.
So, use a keyword research tool that tells you, not just search volume, but a little bit about the competition that you’ll be facing. Some tools even have a difficulty rating for each related keyword.
But if your main keywords have a lot of competition or a high difficulty rating, is it time to give up?
Not at all!
Turn your current keyword list into longtail keywords, narrowing yourself down and weeding out competition. For example, instead of focusing on “shoes for men,” try using keywords like “basketball shoes for men,” “running shoes for men” or “casual shoes for men.”
You also want to try ranking for keywords that show the right intent. For example, someone who’s ready to make a purchase now might include terms like “cheap,” “sale,” “free shipping” or “buy.”
Using our example above, you could go even more longtail with keywords such as “cheap basketball shoes for men” or “running shoes for men free shipping.”
Using keywords that show the right intent gives you two benefits:
1. Makes these keyword phrases easier to rank for
2. Makes them convert like crazy
Another tip for finding the right keywords is getting ideas directly from your website users.
You know that search bar that’s available on your website? Analyze what people are searching for on your website to get real-life examples of the kinds of search terms your target audience is using. You can then use these keywords to position yourself better in the SERPs!
2. Implement an Influencer Marketing Strategy
We mentioned above how important a healthy backlink profile is to your SEO strategy. So, if you’re looking for a good way to build natural backlinks quickly, here’s your answer.
Influencer marketing takes the internet “fame” of bloggers and social media influencers and transfers some of their power and status to you.
Here’s an example:
Joe is a fashion blogger who writes about men’s fashion. He recommends different products and styles to his 100,000 Twitter followers and 45,000 blog subscribers. His website has authority, and ranks well in Google.
Now, imagine your company approaches Joe and offers to send him a free pair of your casual shoes for men. Joe accepts the free shoes, and writes about your shoes on his blog. In the process, he sends a link back to your website.
Contacting influencers, building relationships, and even sponsoring posts or videos is a great way to get relevant, authoritative backlinks to your website.
Want to make this even faster? Do a roundup post!
Here’s how to do it in four simple steps:
1. Come up with a topic that’s relevant to your brand’s niche (tips for buying men’s shoes online)
2. Send out a simple question to a number of different influencers in your niche (What’s your best tip for buying men’s shoes online?)
3. Take the responses and create a roundup post (Buying Men’s Shoes Online: Tips from 25 Experts!)
4. Once the post is published, send a follow-up email to the influencers and let them know
Once this is done, many of the influencers you quoted will be excited to link back to this roundup post so that their followers can see. That’s a bunch of highly valuable backlinks coming straight back to your website!
And, since roundup posts are extremely shareable, the backlinks will keep coming from other sources as well.
3. Don’t Forget Outbound and Internal Links
Inbound links are important, as we’ve already discussed.
But don’t forget about the importance of outbound and internal links.
When you’re writing content for your website, you have the ability to link anywhere you want to. Making sure that all of your outgoing links are relevant and authoritative will help your website’s SEO.
Well, Google looks at the outbound links on your pages and checks for relevance. When you’re linking out to sites with related content that Google already likes, that will help Google figure out what your website is about, and shows that your website is presenting quality information to users.
Internal linking is also essential, as it helps spread the link juice around your website. Linking from your most valuable pages helps give value to other pages, while using many posts to point to one super-informative post signals to Google that this is cornerstone content.
Creating the right balance of outbound, inbound and internal links will help your overall backlink profile, which in turn will help your website’s SEO.
4. Create the Ultimate User Experience
The time that people spend on your site is another signal that Google uses to judge the value of your website.
And one sure-fire way to increase the time people spend on your website is by improving their experience.
Here’s three ways to improve your website’s UX and keep people on your website:
a. Reduce the Clicks
People really don’t like clicking a lot to get to where they want to go. So, make sure that your website is clearly set out, with easy navigation to everywhere that users would need to go.
As a general rule, don’t make people click more than three times in order to get to a page.
Nothing should be so deep that it’s buried under a mountain of other pages, and anything that’s key information should be no more than one click away from your homepage.
Another way to help reduce clicking is to have an easy-to-find search bar on every page of your website.
b. Spice Up Your Pages with Media
According to Jeff Bullas, articles with images get 94% more views, while video is set to become part of 80% of all online content by 2019.
These stats are just samples of the hundreds of studies which have proven that visual content is crucial to internet success.
So, keep people interested by adding custom visual content to your pages and posts.
c. Speed Up Your Load Time
Did you know that about 40% of people leave if a page takes longer than three seconds to load?
Bounce rate has a large effect on your overall SEO profile, so getting your site speed up to snuff is essential.
If your website is currently a bit slow to load, speeding up that load time will probably give you some fast SEO results.
You can do that by compressing your files and removing unnecessary code from the page.
5. Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly
Over 52% of all web traffic around the globe is on mobile devices. This fact, along with recent Google updates related to mobile, show that being mobile-friendly is no longer optional.
To figure out if your website is mobile-friendly, run your website through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
If you find that your mobile website needs some work, there are several ways to improve the UX of a mobile site, such as:
- Use clear, easy-to-read fonts
- Test different screen sizes
- Never, ever use Flash because it probably won’t load for mobile users
- Make sure your site is easy to navigate
Give It Time, and the Results Will Come
While many of us are impatient and would like to see immediate results, SEO is often a waiting game.
A good part of improving your website’s rank involves building trust in your domain, which takes time.
If you’re feeling disappointed with your current SEO results, think about the painter. The more effort he puts in, and the longer he paints for, the better his end result will be.
Using the tips above to improve your website’s UX, produce content that focuses on the right keywords, and balance out the different kind of links will help you see faster results for your hard work.
So, keep working at SEO! The ROI you’re looking for could be much closer than you think.