Featured SE Optimization SE Positioning

How Long Does it Take to See SEO Results?

SEO Targeting
Photo Credit: Augur Marketing via flickr

“SEO is a long term game. It needs hard work, consistency, smartness, and most importantly patience.”

Robin Khokhar, founder of Tricky Enough

When a company begins to develop a SEO strategy or work with an optimization firm, the single biggest question on everyone’s minds is, “How long until our site tops the SERPs?”

It’s a fair question to ask. Brands (especially those who are just starting out) are in a hurry to gain visibility, leads, clients and sales.

The only problem, however, is that this inquiry is exceptionally challenging to answer on a broad scale.

There are a myriad of variables that SEOs must take into consideration before even contemplating a tentative answer. Elements such as competition, baseline traffic, target market, and a wide array of other components must be analyzed to understand a site’s current standings.

In an effort to address this topic, let’s first dive into some of the most influential aspects that impact a site’s rise or fall in the SERPs.

Four Authoritative Aspects of SEO

1. Website Domain

At a foundational level, domain names play a significant role in how a website ranks. In just this one area, there are a variety of factors that control how a site fares.

While aspects of your domain, such as keyword inclusion, will impact your property, elements like the site’s age override these sorts of ingredients.

As search engines revolve around trust, the older a site is, the more credence it is given.

Even if the domain is rather old, you may have just acquired it from another business. Unfortunately, business owners aren’t privy to the site’s reputation up to that point; if it was abused, it will take longer to repair.

2. Keywords

Targeted keywords are going to help websites drive the type of traffic they hope to earn; the more organic traffic they gain, the higher they rank (usually).

If, however, you have strong competitors ranking for the phrases you aim to target, you might want to reconfigure your list to focus on less aggressive long-tailed keywords if you hope to gain visibility.

Keywords themselves, however, are beginning to lose a bit of their potency as Google continues to place a greater emphasis on user intent. Keep this in mind when developing your strategy.

The search words and phrases your company targets will have a direct correlation on how long it takes to attain higher rankings; be sure to optimize for intent above all else.

3. Optimized Content

Content is, in many ways, the heart of SEO; this is what helps your site rank, educates consumers, elevates visibility, drives sales, etc.

In order for your content to be worth the effort of creating, it needs to be remarkable, not just optimized.

Content needs to be written for humans, to be highly informative and educational; to be entertaining; to target user intent; and it needs to solve the consumer’s problem.

This is a tall order, but it is absolutely achievable.

Your content’s superiority or inferiority will have a sizable impact on your SEO timeframe.

4. Referring Domains and Link Quality

Another aspect of how long it takes your site to top the SERPs is the average number of inbound links held by your competitors; using tools like Ahrefs can help you uncover this information. The average number will help you to establish a general goal to aim for in the link-building department.

The number of inbound links, however, is not the sole indicator of a competitor’s link strength.

To gain a more comprehensive view, analyze the quality of the links and determine their domain rating. Evaluating a rival’s link profile in this manner will allow you to more thoroughly understand the number of high-quality and low-quality links they have, giving you a clearer view of what you need to do to top them.

Outside of these elements, there are quite a few other ranking factors that will determine how long the road ahead is.

There are also more personal facets that must be considered as well.

Personal Impact Points

There are two major ingredients that are unique to your company that will play a significant role in your timeline.

The first is your brand’s key point indicators (KPIs).

KPIs are the measurements by which your company can determine if the efforts are failing or succeeding.

Your businesses’ KPIs might be to see a 15 percent increase in rankings for your top three keywords. You might want to see a boost to your site’s domain authority. You might be after more organic traffic. Or you could simply be pursuing an enhanced number of conversions.

These metrics are going to be specific to your company’s goals, will be fundamental in measuring the success of your campaign, and extremely instrumental in determining how long it will be until your site begins to see results.

The second, and possibly most influential factor that will guide your waiting period is your company’s budget.

Your SEO budget will directly impact how many links are built, the quality of links acquired, the amount of content that is produced for your brand, and many other elements; of course, all of this will affect the time to the top.

Fortunately, there are variety of ways to make SEO more affordable so you can get the most bang for your buck with any firm that you employ.

So, How Long with This Really Take?

All of this brings us back to our original question.

The fact is that timelines will greatly vary from case to case and from brand to brand. All of the above factors (and many more) will all cause timeframes to fluctuate.

For a more of a definitive answer, Ahrefs released a study exploring this question, and (unsurprisingly) came to a similar conclusion. The company did say, however, that 95 percent of brands don’t crack the top 10 within a year.

The bottom line is that SEO is not a quick fix; it is a long game that requires patience, persistence, and consistency. Continually refine your strategy with these three virtues in mind, and you can land your site at the top of the SERPs. . . eventually.

What SEO strategies have you found to produce results relatively fast? Do you think keywords will eventually die off to intent-based phrases?

About the author


Tina Courtney

Conscious online marketer, web executive, and multi-faceted writer Tina Courtney has been creating and fostering online innovations since 1996. Tina has assisted many clients in maximizing online production and marketing efforts, and is a staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney and JDate, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, influencer marketing, community management, lead generation, and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, and accomplished life coach.  Learn more on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+. Visit My Google+ Profile


Click here to post a comment
  • Hi Tina,

    I am running a local seo agency and most of the time my client ask the same question and it become difficult to give them a perfect answer as you clearly mentioned it depend on many things, however if keywords are easy to rank then i give them 3-6 month of time and if keywords are difficult then i don’t give them any deadline as i am not sure about that, this works the best for me.

  • yes, it’s completely true SEO – search engine optimization is a long-term process and it takes a time to show the result. I have an example of my site: distanceeducationdelhi.co.in/. I was working on my site since last 6-7 months and I get the results now some days before. I was working on both off-page and on-page aspects of SEO but focusing mainly on off page SEO and then finally I get the result on my targeting keywords.

    Thanks Tina for sharing these helpful tips about SEO.

  • Hi. Thanks a lot. comprehensive answer)
    Have a question: is it important what seo tools I use?
    I’ve bought SerpStat and it seems good. Will it be effective?

  • If it takes a year to see a significant improvement in SEO results then one might as well spend the time learning SEO oneself rather than relying on others (of unknown or dubious ability) — or at least think seriously about ways to improves sales (if one is selling something).

  • Very good post, thanks! Hoped my site will go up on google little bit faster but it’s true, it takes a time for that.

  • We’ve been saying for a long time that keywords importance will diminish, however it is still the name of the game ! We’ve also been told (by google) that keywords in the domain name will be considered spammy, but i still see quite a few high ranking websites having the main keywords in the domain!!!
    Is it also your experience ?

  • The problem I want to mention is link quality. Choose the strong, quality links, the same topic with your site. That helps index of your website increase, SEO keyword rankings increase.

  • Hi Tina,

    I agree with you that SEO is a long game that requires patience, persistence, and consistency. Domain name , keywords, backlinks etc are the real backbone of SEO..great post….thanks for sharing..!!


  • Whitehat SEO takes time for results but it gives long term results. For low competition keywords at least 3 months it will take as per my experience.

  • I remember not too long ago that Neil Patel did a similar “study” about the same topic. He was able to get the site ranked in about 4 months. However getting a site ranked in 4 months is not the same as ranking well enough to get visits and conversions. As the article mentioned, patience, patience and then a little more patience covered with good content.

  • Very helpful. I’m just starting out and it’s cool to know there are some people out there who dedicate time to giving such helpful tips.

  • Hello tina,
    I really am inspired by your view “SEO is a long term game. It needs hard work, consistency, smartness, and most importantly patience”.
    Really an informative article to go through … Your article is simple but effective about the matter, Your ways will really help the readers who write blogs and also those who do digital marketing for better SEO.
    Thanks for the great article.

  • It would take minimum 2-3 months for you to see the results but there are cases where I was able to rank website in a month. Focus more on getting quality back links, relevant keywords thereby improving user experience.

  • It depends upon Keyword competition and the way you build content and links. There are many other factors also.

  • I learn that for a competitive keywords, it needs 4 to 14 days to get ranked in among 6th pages. If you have good domain authority, it could achieve less than 4 days.
    But, you need to share the fresh articles to some bookmarks. G+ is the best place to share.

  • Hi Tina,

    I am working as a SEO Exe. for last 7 years; I am also facing the same problem. Most of our clients every time are asking when we rank & when we get leads and it is very difficult to give them a perfect answer. I simply told them it is totally depend on how much your keywords are competitive.

  • thats right patience is key i was monitoring my website but it took it six months to rank from page 6 to page 1

  • The problem I want to mention is link quality. Choose the strong, quality links, the same topic with your site. That helps index of your website increase, SEO keyword rankings increase.

  • it is very difficult to judge the SEO results. I thing it totally depends on your keywords search volume. High search volume keywords will always take long time to see the results.

  • Good article for seo, I definitely enjoyed every bit of it and I have you bookmarked to see new information on your blog

  • Once upon a time the strategy was to identify those keywords that were the most relevant to your business, got the most traffic, and wasn’t very competitive. It used to be you would figure out 5-10 keywords that were your “golden keywords” and would bring in the majority of your traffic. When someone comes to us and says “I need to be #1 for a such and such keyword,” we know they’re stuck in that paradigm.

  • I have learned a lot from this article on the SEO strategy. This will be good result to my website for ranking. Thanks for sharing!

  • There is no way to tell a customer how long their website will be on fist page or first position. It depend mostly of what are the others websites strategies and age of our target (and of course quality of SEO service).

  • It would take minimum 2-3 months for you to see the results but there are cases where I was able to rank website in a month. Focus more on getting quality back links, relevant keywords thereby improving user experience.

  • Great post, and i have a problem want to mention is link quality. Choose the strong, quality links, the same topic with your site. That helps index of your website increase, SEO keyword rankings increase.

  • Hey , Tina Courtney thanks for sharing your knowledge with us. I agree with you that SEO takes a long time to show your website on the first page of Google. It is a lengthy process and we should follow the Google guidelines .

  • The great mistake some business owners, entrepreneurs make when it comes to their SEO is a lack of patience. In order to see good results, they’ll have to wait for up to 12 months depending on the competitiveness of the industry. Sometimes a year or two if they had any penalties or back hat SEO in the past.

  • It totally depends upon the work and efforts you do to push the website ranking up. On page factors and the OFF page and quality of links…

    SEO is a long way to go and also competition is growing daay by day..