How Long Does SEO Take? – contributed by The SEO School

How Long Does SEO Take? It’s one of the questions I get asked the most, how long will SEO take?

It’s perfectly understandable why website owners are keen to have a timeframe for their SEO.   Many rely on their websites to drive sales and business growth and they really need their SEO to kick-in so that they can start to reap the benefits of their investment.

Truth be told, it’s not actually possible to give a definitive indication of how long SEO takes.  No SEO expert worth their salt will commit to a timeframe, simply because the search engine environment is so dynamic and there are so many variables involved in SEO – some of which are beyond your control.

While it’s not possible to know how long the whole process will take, the good news is that you can get a fairly accurate idea of when a well-constructed SEO strategy will start showing results.

First up, you need to know that there’s no instant fix with SEO.  It’s not a magic wand.  And it’s not about speed.   But the layers of tools and techniques that you put in place will have a powerful cumulative effect, building momentum over time until you reach the stage where your SEO is generating the right amount of leads and sales and you have reached your desired position on the search engine pages.  Then you can settle into more of a holding pattern.

But remember, SEO doesn’t have an actual ‘end’.   Google is constantly updating its algorithms, so there’s always something that needs to done.   SEO really is an ongoing commitment but trust me, your business needs a strong online presence in order to succeed, and it needs SEO.  Your investment will reap dividends.

What timeframe should I set for my SEO to start working?

Generally, you should budget for at least six to 12 months’ worth of work on your SEO strategy.  You may see some early gains, but sustainable results will only be evident over time and with ongoing attention.

Why does it take so long to see SEO results?

In my experience, setting realistic expectations is pivotal to success.

Even if websites are operating in the same niche markets, each one is unique and there are many different factors which will influence their SEO.  From competitor activity to content quality, there are lots of different things to consider – all of which can impact on the time it takes for SEO to start delivering the goods.

Let’s look at some of these factors in more detail:

Competitor activity

If you’re up against lots of competing businesses in the same online space, it can take longer to see results from your SEO.  The more they invest in their SEO, the higher up the rankings they’ll be and the more resources you’ll have to commit if you want to leapfrog them.

If your competitors are dominating the search results, it’s really worthwhile analysing what they’re doing.  Get insights into their keywords and discover what practices are delivering results for them, then you can use this intelligence to fire up your own SEO and beat them at their own game.

Content strategy

Content is crucial.

Quality content that answers readers’ questions, addresses their needs and solves their problems is first prize.  If you publish a consistent flow of fresh, relevant, authoritative and well-written content (which includes carefully researched keywords of course!) onto your webpages, Google’s spiders will be encouraged to crawl your site more often and you’ll be rewarded with higher rankings.

Users will also be encouraged to visit your site more often because you will have a reputation for new and engaging content that is meaningful and relevant.  Quality content will enhance the user experience which is a key ranking factor for Google and as such, will influence how fast your SEO starts working.

Backlink profile

Link-building is an essential element of Google’s algorithm.

Naturally, older and more established websites are likely to have a stronger backlink profile, but even if you’re up against a really tough competitor, earning high quality links is something that you need to work on if you want to SEO gains.  Remember, the focus should be about quality rather than volume.

Website design

You’ll get faster results if your website is SEO-friendly.  Mobile optimisation, page loading speeds and URL structures are all key elements of good website architecture which in turn will influence how quickly – and how effectively – your SEO will work.

SEO isn’t a quick fix.   It takes time and effort, but whether you are a small local business or a large multinational corporate, SEO is a valuable investment.  But it needs to be SEO that is right for your business and for your target market.  Making sure that you are doing the right things at the right time is critical to success and patience is key.

Some businesses outsource their SEO to a specialist agency whilst others go it alone.  The important thing is to make sure that your strategy is results-driven and tailored to your business’s specific needs and goals.

I recently launched a new self-managed SEO course to enable small business owners to take charge of their own online visibility.  I wanted to share all the knowledge, insights and trade secrets that I’d accumulated over my 20 years as an SEO specialist in Perth and so I designed The SEO School as a practical, hands-on way for website owners to learn and implement their own SEO.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the course, read what past participants say about The SEO School or simply get some free SEO tips, tools and tricks, please visit



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