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