How Long Does It Take To See Results From SEO?
There’s nothing that motivates a person more than pain. A person can be overweight for months, or even years, and they’re willing to tolerate it as a part of life. But when they’re back on the dating market, or they’re going topless on the beach, or they’re worried about the example they’ll set for their kids, well… suddenly they’re MOTIVATED in a totally different way.
Well, the same thing applies to business owners. They usually don’t make the move to invest in SEO until they’re feeling the pain – the pain from decreased visibility, the pain from lower customer engagement, the pain from not making as much as they always wanted to. And when you’re in pain, you’re not thinking “Hm… I should make a Long Term Investment.”
You want HELP! You want your problem fixed! You want it right now!
But it takes time to see results from one’s SEO efforts. How much time? Well, few people want to hear something like “it depends”, so let’s backtrack.
What Do We Mean By “Results?”
More traffic, and traffic that turns into customers. Think of your marketing efforts as a funnel – it’s not enough to have a high ranking website. It needs to reach people, educate them on who you are and what you can do for them, and then get them to buy. That requires more than just a listing in Google Places.
It’s Like Losing Weight
You’re running, you’re eating rice cakes, you’re skipping the beer, and you’re not always seeing results right away. You might not reach the first page for your major targets, or maybe you’re only moving on tiny keywords.
Another problem with this is that success can be exponential. If you go from the 60’s all the way to Page two, your traffic probably isn’t going anywhere. There really aren’t a lot of people who check that page out. And even if you’re near the bottom of page one, you’re not going to get a business changing boost. But every time you move up that page, you’re going to see big improvements, and sometimes it can be a sudden jump to one of the top three spots (which is where the lion’s share of the traffic is)…
So yeah, 30 days guaranteed is a better answer to someone that’s in pain. But the humble response is a much better answer.
That’s because many of the factors that determine the answer depend on you and your environment. All of them help decide the speed and success of your SEO.
Best And Worst Case Scenarios
We’ve done projects where our context ranked a few hours after posting it online! Generally that’s for video content and press releases. Where there’s not an overwhelming amount of pro competition. You’re ranked number one, you get that engagement, and people start buying. Even a small amount with that kind of speed is positive. That is Utopia, easily.
Worst case scenarios generally involve sites that are “polluted” somehow, marked by spam and viruses and other penalties. This is like cleaning up a sewage dump and turning it into Mount Rushmore. You can spend hundreds of dollars recreating your pages, disavowing spam material, re-establishing your links, and populating your site with original and helpful content, but it does not get crawled into the top pages of a search, you did not get a single visit (apart from you logging in from your computer at home to create traffic), you have waited it out for nine months and the number still does not go up. That’s the apocalypse, for sure.
Somewhere In Between
That’s most of us. It’s somewhere between hours and an eternity. Two steps are crucial in answering the question: (1) assess yourself (a.k.a. audit); and (2) fix time equivalents for your intended activities and add them all up.
Preliminary Step: SWOT
The SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) method still works. Knowing what your abilities and resources are will give you a fair estimate of the time needed for your intended activities. Likewise, knowing your opportunities and threats in advance will put you in the best spot possible to take advantage of your chances, and avoid or lessen the risks.
Firstly, assess yourself and identify your strengths and weaknesses. Do you have a reliable and competent SEO partner? Are you an established and well-known company? Do you have talented content writers? If you answer yes to all these questions, chances are you will see results faster. The list goes on.
As for your weaknesses, after having identified them, you then have to propose ways to minimize them or convert them into strengths. You’ll need to take those into account in planning your SEO strategy. For example, after doing SWOT, you realized that you actually have only a few dozen links. This fact tells you two things: (1) it will take you much longer to see the results you have been wanting to see (because you have a weak link system); and (2) you need to gear your SEO plans towards link building.
It must always be kept in mind that your strengths and weaknesses are under your control. You can do something to improve them.
Opportunities and threats, on the other hand, are not. You have to be wary about them, foresee them, and take advantage of them. An example of the opportunities you can take advantage of to promote your site is the popularity of dance songs nowadays. They easily get viral through social media, reaching billions of people at most. If you can come up with the next big hit, or identify it, at least, you will have a good chance of seeing huge traffic and positive activity.
Simultaneously, you have to be ready for threats. An example of a threat is Google’s changing algorithm requirements. You cannot avoid that. You have to be flexible. Your SEO strategy should allow you to adapt to the changes smoothly, so you can keep yourself in a competitive position for hitting search inquiries.
The famous Roman philosopher Seneca said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” This is what your SWOT analysis should be all about.
Secondary Step: Assign Time Equivalents and Add
After auditing yourself, you can now safely assess all the activities you need to take. From there, designate time equivalents for each activity. You can take appropriate expert or industry estimates. Add them all up, and you’ll get your answer.
For example, if you haven’t done audit before, and you have no SEO partner yet, you will probably need a month or so to do a comprehensive audit, then based on whether your teams have the resources and technology, link building activity should take between three to four months. Website design will probably require a month or two. Content writing will probably require a month or two as well. After listing all the activities and fixing your estimates, you will get your total estimate. It must be a year, more or less.
Before answering the question in terms of time, one should first identify the activities and conditions that need to happen to achieve the desired SEO results. Unless you turn out to be really fortunate, chances are, it will take a really long time – a year or so – for your SEO efforts to work. This is because the environment is ever-changing, even as you implement your identified strategy. Competition, changing requirements, and other uncontrollable factors join in, too. It is important, therefore, to implement your chosen SEO efforts with a lot of patience and stick to the plan through the ups and downs.