The question about how long it takes for a website to get ranked on the first page is one of the most asked in the years I’ve been in the business. There is no simple and easy answer to this because unfortunately, the question is misguided. This question traces its roots all the way back from the knowledge of how SEO worked years ago but no longer does today.
The Difference Between Old SEO and Today’s SEO
Several years ago, one of the main strategies for SEO was to figure out the keywords that matched your business the most, provided the best results in traffic and were being used the least. Webmasters before would identify between 5 to 10 main keywords which would bring in traffic and start using them. That is why when someone approaches our agency and says that they need their site or brand to be ranked #1 for certain keywords, we know that they are stuck in this kind of pattern.
This sort of strategy with keywords is faulty. The reason behind this is that it is very rare or not possible at all for a single or a core group of keyword phrases to become the catalysts in driving a lot of traffic to a website – at least not as effective compared to long tail keywords. The point here is that if you simply focus on a few generic keywords, you probably won’t be found by most of the users searching for you.
The SEO of today is being driven increasingly by searches using the natural language, that is, people who perform searches using normal questions instead of just a couple of keywords. This change happened because users have been exposed to tools such as Google Now and Siri which they speak to instead of just typing their inquiries. A growing number of users are also more detailed in their searches to find what they need faster and because search engines today are now capable of catering to such.
These types of keywords are a lot easier to rank for since they aren’t as competitive as two or three words. They are more relevant because they have more detail and the traffic from such keywords result in a better rate of conversions. Also, the number of searches using long tail will stack up compared to just using a core group of keywords. That is why the goal in ranking is to focus on identifying these natural language searches that users make which change rapidly.
Rankings Aren’t Everything
We all know rankings are important, but they shouldn’t be the only metric you need to focus on. If you like asking the question, “How long will it take for my website to reach the top rankings?” then you are mistaking outputs for results.
Many SEO firms promise high rankings because it is an output that they can sell easily. Although emotionally satisfying, they are worthless if they cannot generate sales or leads, which is the result most businesses want. This is the main reason why you only should hire a reputable SEO firm that focuses on getting results and not just outputs.
This Is the Question You Need to Ask
Now that you have an idea of how SEO has changed over the years and that you are looking for results instead of just rankings, the question you need to ask is “How long will it take for SEO solutions to start generating leads and sales for my company?”
How Long Does It Take for SEO To Start Working?
We are now ready to answer you with the right question you are asking us. And the answer to this is, well, it depends. Frustrating? It might be, but this is the truth. SEO depends on how long a website has been up, how much SEO has been performed on it in the past, how responsive a website is, how much content it currently has and many other factors. You can’t find two websites that are alike even if they are within the same industry.
The good news is that we can provide you with plausible scenarios on what your SEO efforts may look like in the first several months of working on it and the results you can expect.
1st Month – Start off with research, website auditing, keyword strategies, and planning. If you are able to perform your research faster, then the technical changes you need for the first month on your website can be done sooner. In most cases, a thorough research phase can last more than a month.
2nd Month – Start doing the technical on SEO, which is, performing modifications to the site based off of the results you obtained in the site audit. There are some instances where a full overhaul of the website is needed and can take months to do so. You can also start doing other SEO activities such as working on building content and your link profile. You won’t be seeing any results while the overhaul is in progress, but you can still begin doing SEO while waiting.
3rd Month – This is when you start focusing on the creation of content. You can do blogs, FAQs, articles, expanded product or company information, whitepapers and much more. The ideal time to have started this is right after performing the strategy and planning stage. However, budgets can restrict what can be done as soon as possible, and the technical overhaul needs to be prioritized first. If this is the case, you will begin seeing some improvements in ranking by the month’s end. If the improvement in ranking translates to leads and sales, then that’s good, but you shouldn’t expect these just yet.
4th Month – Continue with your content creation, technical optimizations to the website and developing a sturdy link profile. On this month, you could expect a significant increase in traffic, rankings and lead generation. This won’t be the same as performing SEO efforts for 12 months, but the results should be ideal enough to know that your SEO is working.
5th Month – By this month or even earlier, you may begin applying social media management into your SEO plans to bring more eyes to your content and therefore improve traffic directly to your site. This effort will also improve your link profile and generate leads in itself. You may continue putting out content and even engage in some media or PR outreach. You should see an increasing pattern of the traffic coming your way through SEO, and the leads you get should be growing..
6th Month – Once you have reached a traffic of 5,000 visitors every month or by this point, you can start taking advantage of conversion rate optimization. This enhances the traffic you get and further improves their conversion to leads and sales. By this time, you may be focusing consistently on content creation and its promotion, or you may be doing other more creative activities. These can vary depending on the type of company and website you have.
Most SEO agencies today will tell you that it would take 4 to 6 months to even start seeing results. Generally speaking, this estimate is quite accurate, but you should bear in mind that this is only the point where you will start seeing results. Your SEO results will grow as time goes by as long as you continue its efforts.
Whatever the results that you get in the by 6 months’ time should be considerably less compared to what you’ll get after a year. There will come a time where you will see results going down and this will only be a matter of maintaining the SEO efforts instead of growing them.
Do Not Stop Before the 6th Month!
A lot of companies take for granted or underestimate just how much money they can get with a successfully optimized website. In the SEO world, success rarely comes in the first 3 months, even if you have a healthy SEO budget.
Don’t go into this activity with unrealistic expectations, so you don’t have to think about justifying the costs if you aren’t seeing results in the first few months. If you don’t have the budget to fund a 6 to 12-month SEO campaign, then you may be better off investing your money elsewhere first. Spending money on just a couple of months of SEO in most cases is just like throwing money out the window.
Search engine optimization is a tactic in marketing that starts slow but will pick up steam the longer it is being applied. Don’t think of it as a strategy to generate sales as soon as possible. By making the right investment and being in the right mindset, SEO is a tactic that will give you one of the best returns on investment today.