How Long Does It Take For SEO To Work

How Long Does It Take For SEO To Work

Digital marketing campaigns have the ability to bring your long term success when it comes to growing your online presence and expanding your audience. So, how long does SEO take to start working? It is important to understand how SEO campaigns work in order to avoid having unrealistic expectations.

Our team utilizes comprehensive SEO services and content marketing. This includes writing unique blog posts, social media marketing, link building, properly incorporating long tail keywords, and more. All od these ranking factors will influence the organic traffic brought to your website.


You Should Expect to See Results From SEO Within 6 to 12 Months…

SEO should show results within a 6- to 12-month period. By results, we mean a measurable increase in traffic and associated leads or conversions. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have achieved your goal by this point, but any business that is investing in SEO should expect to be able to see progress within this timeframe.

It’s impossible to give a figure that applies to all websites, and the best that an SEO can do is give a best-guess estimate based on analyzing a website’s current performance and the proposed strategy.

There’s no getting away from the fact that SEO takes time. Google (and other search engines) want to show the best result for any given search query, and it takes time to deserve to rank. You’ve got to earn top search visibility.

But with the right strategy in place, 6 to 12 months is a long enough period to be able to see the impact of SEO efforts and to be able to justify ongoing investment into growth.


The Factors That Determine How Long It Takes to See Success From SEO

To help you to further understand how long it takes to see SEO success, let’s take a look at the factors that determine this.

  1. Your Website’s History

Whether or not you’re working on a new domain is one of the key factors that influences 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 9 to 12 months, rather than 6 to 12.

However, an established domain doesn’t automatically mean that you’ll see quicker results. You likely won’t see quick results if the domain has previously been affected by a penalty, a core algorithm update, or has had SEO work that goes against Google’s webmaster guidelines.

When working on a new project, it’s always a good idea to build up a picture of the site’s history. While you can get an idea of site performance by looking at impressions on Google Search Console, the SEMrush Organic Research Tool can help you figure this out very quickly.

Enter your domain into the tool and set the ‘Estimated Traffic Trend’ to all time. This will show you the site’s estimated traffic over time.

The site has lost a significant amount of organic visibility in the example below, suggesting that there’s a problem that needs fixing or a quality issue that needs resolving. A new SEO strategy on a site that’s lost visibility like this will likely take longer than 12 months to see results in line with previous performance.

Organic Decline through Organic Research Tool

On the other hand, this next example suggests no previous site issues or declines in visibility, suggesting that the right strategy could drive expected results within the typical 6 to 12 months period.

Organic Growth through Organic Research Tool

Estimates on how long it takes to show results are usually given based on a site with no historical issues that need resolving first. Always consider how a site has performed over the last 2 to 3 years to help put projections together.

  1. The Competition

Results can be seen far quicker in low competition niches and low competition search queries than competitive ones.

Trying to rank a website for competitive personal finance keywords (e.g., ‘credit cards’)? It could take 2 years or more to earn prominent page 1 visibility. On the other hand, for local or narrower lower competition keywords, it might be possible to show promising results within 3 to 6 months.

  1. Your Resources

You can’t control a website’s history nor the competition.

But what you can (usually) control is the resources that are allocated toward an SEO project. It’s important to understand exactly how this plays a huge part in the length of time it takes to see results from a campaign. The more resources you’re able to allocate toward SEO, the faster you’ll usually see results.

The most important resource you need is time. Let’s give an example…

Two websites owned by small businesses are competing for the same keyword. They’re both aware that the key drivers of SEO success are technical SEO, content, and backlinks. Both employ the services of an SEO freelancer. For simplicity, we’ll assume that both of these sites start on a level playing field.

Website A engages their chosen specialist for 5 days of time per month, whereas Website B engages theirs for just 2 days.

Of course, website A should expect to see faster results.

Be aware that conversations around the time taken to see an impact must take into account the resources being allocated, understanding that the best way to reduce this (within reason) is to allocate more to the project.

It often makes sense to put together a backlog of action points at the start of a campaign (detailing all of the opportunities and actions) and then prioritize this around the allocated resources. This can help to show the opportunities that are still outstanding that could be brought forward with more investment.

Let’s Look at the 3 Silos of SEO Success and How These Impact the Time to Results…

There are 3 key silos to SEO success, and each of these can impact the time that it takes to see results. Let’s take a look.

Technical SEO

If technical SEO issues exist on a site, they will need to be resolved before you can experience the growth you’re looking to see.


Technical SEO relates to things like:

  • Crawling and indexing
  • Site speed
  • Canonicalization
  • Structured data
  • Duplicate content
  • XML sitemaps
  • Hreflang
  • and more

Resolving issues around some of these areas will have a bigger impact than others, but the fact remains that any technical problems should be fixed.

You can identify technical SEO issues with your site using the SEMrush Site Audit Tool and see a list of areas that need your attention:


Houston SEO Experts

Stop missing out on potential customers and become a force within your industry! From excellent web design and social media management to Google Business Listing optimization and a weekly-updated blog, the team at Houston Small Business Marketing is here to help you get to the next level. Grow your business when you expand your reach online. If you are tired of giving away potential customers to your competitors, contact us today!

We dedicate ourselves to working closely with business owners to come up with a marketing plan that helps them succeed. We provide each customer with a free consultation for your website and social media to let you know how you can improve your placement online and grow your engagement with local potential customers looking for your services. Contact us today to learn more about the services we offer.


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