It’s common knowledge in the digital marketing industry: SEO takes time to show results. But how long does it take, exactly? The SEO community generally agrees on a timeframe of 3 to 6 months; while in fact 8 months is the average amount of time before an article ranks at its full potential.
In this article, we explore the factors that can influence your return on investment. It pays to be patient when it comes to SEO: here’s why.
The Impact of Quick Fixes
The results of SEO can be quick—really quick. When you correct technical issues on a website, for example, the impact will often be instantaneous. Whether it’s a migration gone wrong, a new website published with a “no index” tag on all pages or a bad manipulation of DNS changes, we’ve had first hand experience correcting these fixes. As such, our specialists understand how these changes can boost organic traffic.
Organic traffic can also increase quickly after the release of a Google algorithm update, where rankings shift along with what the search engine deems relevant and authoritative. We’ll delve into that later in the article.
So Why Invest in SEO Beyond This Point?
The running of SEO campaigns can be compared to gardening. For a website to survive, it needs constant care. In the same way that planting a seed will eventually lead to a tree, you will prevent your site from disappearing from the SERPs—the moment you decide to look after your SEO. Over the years, your hard work will become increasingly evident as your continued efforts have exceptional results.
For our clients, this is the first step before any SEO campaign. It is vital to have a strong foundation, so the best possible results can flourish in the long-term.
How Long Does it Take for a New Page to Rank?
The short answer: if the SEO agency did a good job, you’ll rank within a few days.
The long answer: as an SEO agency, our job is to build content strategies that our clients can rank with over the long-term.
If the targeted keyword was achievable (a keyword Google’s E-A-T guidelines allow you to rank for); if the brief was well prepared; and if the content aligns with SEO best practices, your new post should rank quickly. With that said, don’t expect the page to rank at the top of the SERPs right from the beginning. Your ability to rank in the top 30 positions will depend on the level of competition for the keyword, and the associated level of authority and trust that the search engine requires for top results.
How Long Does it Take to Improve the Rankings of an Existing Page?
Generally less than a month. Once you implement updates, it should take a few weeks to start seeing results after Google’s re-indexation of the page. If, after a month, the rankings for the page don’t change, you can safely assume that the changes were not sufficient.
How Long Does it Take for a Backlink to Impact Rankings?
A good backlink–one that looks as genuine as possible and that comes from a trustworthy and authoritative website–has the potential to change the course of your SEO campaigns.
If you look at successful websites in Ahrefs or Semrush, you’ll see that the referring domains and the organic traffic trends are almost always correlated.
If you’re seeing absolutely no impact on your rankings from a backlink acquisition within a month, it either means that you need more links to beat the competition or that Google is simply ignoring it.
Most importantly, backlinks allow you to build your profile and level of authority on a certain topic. For backlinks in particular, quality matters much more than time.
How Long Does it Take for a New Domain to Rank?
Most SEOs will explain that when you start a website from scratch, Google will place your domain in what’s known as the Sandbox. It takes from 3 to 12 months to “get out of the Sandbox” and once you do, you’ll be able to rank more easily. However, other SEOs (like the founder of Backlinko, Brian Dean) believe there is no such thing as a Google Sandbox.
Regardless of which view you take, one thing is certain: domain age is a ranking factor for all websites. The older your site is, the more trustworthy you will appear to search engines. For websites aged:
- 0-12 months – Google trusts few domains of this age.
- 1-3 years – with consistent SEO efforts, Google will trust your website a little more.
- 3+ years – Google has a lot of trust for your website.
After a certain period of time, domain age has nearly no impact.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if Google’s Sandbox exists or not: as long as you understand that Google takes time to trust your website and rank it as such.
Example: The Lebara Case Study
It’s all well and good to talk about how long SEO takes, in theory – but what does a concrete example look like? For this, we can look to Lebara — an established website and seller of SIM plans in Australia.
Between November 2021 and February 2022, our specialists published a total of 132 new pages: each with detailed explanations on how to call various countries. It took six months to see 100 clicks per day, and this figure grew tenfold by the 12 month mark.
The Timing of Lebara’s Results
|Months since publication||Clicks (monthly)||Impressions (monthly)||Average ranking|
The clicks leading to these pages represent 50% of all the clicks the website is receiving.
What Our SEO Team Had to Say About Time in SEO
At Vine Digital’s last SEO meeting, the million dollar question was asked: “how long does it take to see results?”. There is a lot of contention surrounding this question, even amongst our own team: each of our SEO specialists have experienced both short and long term successes, through many different SEO strategies.
The takeaway here is that SEO is not a one size fits all approach. There is no way to predict outcomes. Through working with a dedicated specialist however, you can continually optimise your SEO efforts month on month, with a strategy tailored to your business objectives. With this investment, your website can become a valuable source of leads and sales in the long-term.
So there you have it: a breakdown of the time SEO takes to generate results. As you’ve most likely gathered, there’s no simple answer but ultimately, SEO is a long-term investment. While quick technical fixes can lead to immediate results, authority and trust take time to build. To maximise your business’ results, get in touch with our experienced specialists today.