How Long Does SEO Take To Start Working?

One of the somewhat difficult parts of the SEO profession is coping with every client’s expectations. Not everyone is familiar with how SEO works, and because of that, some demand immediate results. But when it comes to SEO, that simply is not the way things are working. The unfortunate practice of telling clients what they want to hear, instead of how it is, often leads to this misunderstanding. The thing is, SEO is a dependable process that sometimes takes a long time to start working, as it’s affected by numerous factors. However, if given enough time, and in the right hands, it will produce excellent results.

How much time does it need for SEO to start working?

Normally, everyone wants to see quick and efficient results. But due to everything involved in SEO, it’s difficult to give precise numbers about when the results will show. Since various factors like competition, quality, and other similar variables are in play, it can be hard to give the right answer right away. SEO requires a lot of time, dedication, and energy, and works the best in long run. Even with the best SEO link-building professionals, it will need at least a couple of months until all the hard work placed in different strategies start to show the first results.

To better understand how this works, let’s first explain some basics.

What is search engine optimization?

In simple words, it’s a process of website optimization that helps websites rank better on search engine result pages. With a proper SEO marketing campaign, websites will improve their online visibility, increase their traffic, and reach the right audience. In return, depending on the type of website, it will benefit your business operations.

What affects your SEO?

Because many factors affect SEO, it can take from 6 to 12 months to see the first significant results. In some specific and extreme cases, it can go as far as a few years until the full potential is achieved. Why makes it have such a wide time span? The simple fact that there are so many factors that can influence it and because the digital marketing environment is constantly changing. On top of it, you have to start working on your SEO and make adjustments and improvements along the way, if you expect to get results sooner. Companies that provide SEO services can take an educated guess, depending on the industry you belong to, for example. Also, it depends on what your goals are.

A woman checking out some magazine.
Just like in magazines, your content needs to be informative and well-formatted.

To explain this a bit further, here is a few most common factors that can affect the time SEO take to start working:

  • Content on your pages
  • Link building efforts
  • Competition on the market

Content on your pages

Obviously, the quality of your content plays a great role in the SEO world. However, the length of your content is accounted for as well. Not really as a direct ranking factor, but simply because larger content provides more space for other elements like keywords and links. This is the reason why you won’t do much with too short articles, for example. But you also don’t want to go to the opposite extreme. If we talk about numbers, the size between 1000 and 2500 words seems to give the best results for articles.

Another important variable is the rate at which you publish new content. With a steady influx of fresh content, you have more chances to provide up-to-date information to your readers. Which can eventually make you favored by search engines.

Link building efforts

Without a doubt, links are important for SEO for several reasons. Quality backlinks from authoritative and relevant websites mean a lot for your SEO. But there is also a matter of quantity. Even though one high-quality backlink is worth more than dozens of low-quality links, you still need to have plenty of links from different referring domains. Creating a healthy backlinks profile takes time, so you can’t expect to see results at least for a while. Also, the rate at which you obtain backlinks is something search engines like Google observe. You need steady growth if you don’t want to attract unnecessary attention. Too many links in a short period of time can raise suspicion and even earn you a penalty.

Racing cars on a track.
Your competitors will not stop for you to catch them.

Competition on the market

If you take business websites, for example, you can’t expect you are the only one that optimizes your website. All your competitors are probably doing the same thing investing in their SEO. This makes things more difficult. Even if your SEO starts showing results after a while, it will require additional efforts to stand above competitors. You can expect first true results only after thorough research and adjustment of your strategy in comparison with competitors.

Basically, this is much harder for websites that are just starting out. Those that exist for years, in most cases, are established websites with more content, links, authority, and experience. To compete with them, you need all the necessary help you can get. Even then, it can be hard to compete for a certain keyword. the best course of action is to focus on long-tail keywords, where competition is lower.

What should you do for your SEO?

Considering there are many other factors that can help you rank higher, there are many methods that can help your SEO while waiting for the first efforts to give results:

  • Make sure your website is well designed with the proper structure – everything from internal linking to user experience can help your optimization efforts. Make your website friendly for visitors. But also make it easier for search engines to crawl it.
  • Focus on mobile devices – given the fact that a large percentage of visitors are using mobile devices, you have to follow the trend. Today, almost every website is responsive. Which means, optimized to properly show on different devices. Google also prefers to crawl mobile pages first.
  • Improve your technical SEO – to get concrete results a bit faster, don’t forget your on-page optimization. Deal with all the meta tags, format your content the right way and pay close attention to the internal linking structure.

Finally, SEO is a continuous process. It’s not something you can do once and be done with it. If you want your website to continue to give results, you will need to regularly maintain it.

Track and monitor the results

Once you start getting the first results, start monitoring them. See how your website ranks and performs over time so you can react and make adjustments if necessary. Make sure to review the results at least once every few months. Continue all the efforts like it’s a never-ending process, because, in reality, it is.

Checking the website analytics on a laptop.
Monitor the results to see what is working.

Because of that, be ready to wait for about 6 months because that’s the least time necessary for your SEO to start working properly. And don’t forget that, even when it starts, it’s far from over. Remember that you still have competitors to compete with. And if fail to follow that pace, you will quickly be left behind in the digital marketing world.

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