How Long

Does SEO Take to Work?


I think one of the most often asked questions I receive is “how long will this take to work?”. The “this” in reference is almost always SEO. This is a very difficult question to answer mainly because of the dishonesty of a lot of my competitors. I don’t say this to talk down on them, that’s not really necessary. In fact I probably feel more sorry for them than anything because they feel a need to over-promise to clients in order to land them, when honesty usually sells much better. But I digress.

Getting back to the topic of how long it actually takes to rank or have SEO take affect. This depends completely on factors that are somewhat out of your control. You can however get a general idea of how long something will take by asking yourself a few questions:

established websites

How established is your site?

If you have a well established site you should be able to see improvements directly related to SEO within the same month you do the work. I have had a lot of established clients see huge ranking increases their first month largely because they are already established.

On the flip side, sites that are brand new with no awareness usually need a good 4 to 6 months of consistent work before they are able to see gains. This isn’t due to anything but major search engines not paying attention to new sites until they prove themselves. Once you start putting up good content, social media etc. search engines will take notice and crawl your site more which will help SEO work faster.

man working on SEO

What work are you doing?

The second question to ask is what work you are doing for your SEO. If you are going the cheap route of blog links and comments it will take potentially months or years for any benefit. Sites that haven’t shut down the ability for SEOs to add rank increasing links to them, usually get much less attention than higher quality sites.

Think of it as the easier it is, the more likely it won’t help for quite a while. If you however create some groundbreaking work that is picked up by an editor of a large magazine and you provide them with additional resources that result in some press from them, that will take affect most likely in a very short period of time.

Play it safe and go with difficult time consuming SEO practices that will once finished provide way more value than easier and usually cheaper tactics.

How is your site coded?

How well is your site coded/setup?

Having fresh content on an established site won’t help much if you have outdated code. Its no secret that Google rewards websites that have mobile friendly views and fast loading content. User experience is key and the easier it is for users to access your content the better your chances will be.

It will be difficult to gauge just exactly how long SEO will take to work but a good SEO should be able to give you a decent timeline of when you should expect improvements. Make sure you get straight answers up front and if someone guarantees overnight success I would suggest moving on to someone who will be honest with you on the results you can expect.

Until next time!

-Joseph Stevenson

  • Ok, yes, I get this question almost daily. 🙂

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