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How Long Does It Take For SEO To Work?

Updated: Dec 20, 2021

When it comes to SEO, everyone wants quick results. Our SEO team gets asked all the time, “how long does SEO take?”

While it is a case-by-case basis, SEO, in general, can take up to a year to start seeing concrete results. However, there are ways to boost that timeline to happen sooner than 12 months.

SEO, otherwise known as Search Engine Optimization, takes time and patience, and it’s not a one-time deal. It’s an investment that requires maintenance and ongoing attention to see any sustainable results.

google algorithm changes in a yellow, green, and red circle

Since the search engine algorithms are ever-changing, a good SEO team is essential for ensuring your website is up-to-date and contains everything it needs to rank your website and keep it consistent on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page).

Let’s dive into the reasons why SEO takes time, a month-by-month breakdown of expectations, how you can increase your ranking possibilities, and more!

What Is SEO, and Why Does It Take So Long?

Before diving into exactly what SEO is, you first have to understand why it doesn’t happen overnight.

As we mentioned above, Google is constantly updating and improving the algorithm that crawls and indexes pages, as well as improving the functionality of the search engine.

Google’s main reason for existing is to give its users the exact answer to whatever they may search for. Because of this, their crawlers thoroughly check every website they index to ensure it’s going to give its audience exactly what they need.

When SEO first started, there was an abundance of shortcuts or schemes such as keyword stuffing or duplicating content to trick the algorithm to get higher results. As a result, Google started to make it harder and harder for websites to rank by creating a list of factors your page must possess, pass, or contain even to begin to show up on the SERPs.

As it became more challenging to rank, it also started to take much more time to see the results of SEO.

5 of the 200 google ranking factors

Now onto the fun stuff! Learning exactly what SEO is and what it refers to.

As we’ve discussed in previous blogs, SEO breaks down into three main points:

  1. Technical SEO

  2. Off-site SEO

  3. On-site SEO

Technical SEO includes optimizing the technical infrastructure, or backend, of your website. This includes your website speed, mobile optimization, structured data markups, and more.

Off-site SEO refers to the optimization done off of your website, for example, submitting your website to your local chamber of commerce or taking part in guest blogging.

On-site SEO focuses on changes you can make to your website to improve your search rankings. This includes your page titles, metadata, alt text, and almost anywhere text is utilized on your site.

the 3 types of SEO with examples

While your primary focus might be just one or two of these classifications, taking advantage of SEO best practices in relation to all three categories are essential to your search engine rankings, organic growth, and overall web authority.

Four Factors That Can Affect How Long Your SEO Strategy Takes

To help you better understand how long it takes to see SEO success, let's look at four of the main factors that determine this.

1. The History and Age of Your Website

Whether or not you're working on a new website is one of the critical factors that influence the time it takes to see results from SEO.

A new domain will almost always take longer to show success than an established one, given that it hasn't yet built up any authority or earned any backlinks. In comparison, an established domain will usually have earned at least some level of authority and have some backlinks pointing to it.

A brand new domain should expect to see results within 6 to 12 months, rather than 3 to 6 months.

2. Your Content

Your website content is one of the most important aspects of your SEO and ranking. In fact, 72% of online marketers describe content creation as their most effective SEO tactic.

Content, even without a keyword strategy, will end up getting you traffic. Producing large amounts of quality content will not only establish your website as an authority, but it will indirectly be targeting more and more keywords.

content marketing fact in a purple looking glass

3. Your Keywords

Choosing the right keywords is essential for SEO success. If you aim for keywords that are too difficult or with too much traffic, you’ll get lost in a sea of competitors. But choosing the right keywords with the perfect amount of difficulty and volume will help boost your website high on the SERPs.

The keywords your competitors choose are also important. Doing research into what keywords your competitors use, and creating better content surrounding those keywords, is one strategy marketing professionals often use to help boost SEO.

4. Your Page Speed and Mobile Optimization

Along with content, page speed and mobile optimization are direct ranking factors you can’t ignore. Having a slow-loading webpage or one not optimized for smart devices can increase your bounce rate and reduce dwell time.

In addition, slow page speeds mean that search engines can’t crawl your pages as fast using their allocated crawl budget, which could negatively affect your indexation.

Month by Month SEO Breakdown

When it comes to learning how long SEO takes, there are many factors that come into play. Many SEO teams will tell you that it takes three months to see results. That’s typically accurate, but this is simply when you start seeing results. Just like fine wine, SEO gets better with age.

Month One and Two

Your first month will include lots of research and audits into your audience, your products or services, the best types of keywords for your website, and more. If any technical changes need to be made, this is when we start to make those immediate modifications that affect your SEO the most.

In some cases, your website might need to be overhauled entirely, which can add weeks or months to your timeline. If you find yourself in this overhaul situation, you’ll be doing “SEO,” but you still won’t be seeing any results at all since the changes being made will only start to have an impact once they’re finished.

These first two months also include content creation. We will start creating blog and article content, video content, and more to ensure Google sees your page has not only technical value but informational value as well.

Month Three and Four

Content creation should continue if you choose. Technical optimization will also continue, as well as developing a healthy link profile (this includes cleaning up low-quality links that may exist). By this month, you may start to see a marked increase in traffic and rankings, but it won’t be anywhere close to the improvements you will see at the six and 12-month mark.

This is also when social media content should start being incorporated. While the existence of your social media does not affect your overall rankings, sharing links to and from your website and social accounts increases your traffic, sending Google the signal that your website offers value to its audience.

Month Five to Seven

Besides minor SEO updates and algorithm changes, your primary focus should be focused on content creation and promoting that content through many different platforms. This content can vary greatly depending on what type of company you are and what kind of website you have.

We should be able to analyze your traffic and insights from the past six months and start implementing strategies to increase your click-through rates, bounce rates, and conversion rates.

Month Eight to Ten

More research will be done into what works and what doesn’t work with your website. We will also be continuing to monitor your bounce rate. If your bounce rate was affecting your rankings, you should increase traffic and rankings once this has been fixed.

By now, you will also know precisely how effective your SEO has been, what strategies worked well, and what provided limited increases in traffic.

bounce rate definition

Month Eleven and Twelve

It's time to focus on any pages that are within striking distance. If you have essential keywords ranking between positions five through ten, then Google is considering giving them a top 3 spot. We will focus on those - build some more quality links to them and really examine the content and try and improve it.

Content will continue to be created and updated on a regular basis, and we will spend time researching exactly what strategies provided the results we were aiming for and why.

Important Metrics to Track for SEO

Five Ways to Speed up Your SEO

While these suggestions do not guarantee your rankings will increase faster than with an SEO professional, these are five of the best ways to increase your chances of ranking sooner on the SERPs.

  1. Publish high-quality content regularly

  2. Use key phrases your audience searches for as FAQs

  3. Optimize your website for mobile-friendliness

  4. Decrease your bounce rate

  5. Have a strong social media presence

Key Takeaways

Proper SEO takes time, patience, and a regular stream of content. While it’s possible to increase your rankings by yourself through trial and error, hiring a professional SEO team that understands the Google algorithm is your best bet.

If you want to perform and fix your own SEO, follow this link to get a free complete local SEO audit.

Zoek is the only agency that is both a certified Google and Wix partner, meaning we know exactly what needs to be done to keep your website up-to-date on all of the SEO best practices. Not only that, but being a Google Partner signifies that our company has multiple employees who are certified in Google AdWords, continuously meet Google's performance standards, show growth in client base, and participate in ongoing training.

If you’re ready to take your SEO to the next level, click the button below and book your free SEO call to speak to one of our experts.


Kellyann Doyle is a Content Marketing Writer at Zoek, an SEO, Web Design, and Digital Marketing Agency that assists small and medium-sized businesses with their online footprint. She earned her Bachelor's Degree in 2013 from the University of Houston with a Major in Communications and a Minor in Marketing and has been working in the Digital Marketing world ever since. When not working, you can find Kellyann trying new recipes, enjoying a good nap, or watching Friends for the 500th time.

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