How Long Does It Take For SEO To Work?
Updated: Sep 27
As any SEO expert can testify, the most commonly asked question by any client is, “how long will it take for me to rank first for my chosen keywords?”
While this is a more than reasonable question given how much clients are often required to invest in SEO, it’s also slightly misguided given the contemporary nature of search engine optimisation techniques and how they’ve evolved during the last decade.
In this post, however, we’ll attempt to answer (or at least rephrase) the question in detail so that you can manage your expectations as an entrepreneur or a business owner!
The New SEO - How it’s Different Today!
Historically, SEO focused on the simple strategy of identifying a minimum of five keywords that were most relevant to a client’s business, while these would ideally be largely uncompetitive and capable of generating high volumes of traffic.
From an outreach perspective, the number of backlinks created was also far more important than their individual quality, creating a scenario where clients could achieve a synthetically high ranking in a relatively short period.
But, times have changed! with modern SEO driven by natural language search that requires the deployment of less generic and so-called ‘longtail’ keywords.
The latter are typically longer and more specific phrases that are increasingly likely to be used in the modern age (particularly during voice searches) and, while they tend to generate lower volumes of traffic, they also offer significantly higher conversion rates.
With this in mind, contemporary SEO strategies should combine a broad portfolio of specific, longtail, and branded keywords while focusing on natural language and the organic search trends that are now driving consumer behaviour across the globe.
This practice should also be part of a long-term SEO strategy, which usually focuses on the quality and sustainability of outcomes rather than speed.
The Truth About Rankings and the Goal of SEO.
With these points in mind, perhaps a more pertinent question would be, “when will SEO start to generate leads and sales for my business?”.
This question reflects the actual core goal of search engine optimisation, which is ultimately to drive target customers towards your business and facilitate the optimal conversion level.
Of course, achieving high organic search rankings plays a pivotal role in realising these objectives. But this only represents part of the SEO journey rather than the outcome of the techniques used.
But now that the question has changed, does this make it easier to answer? The short answer is no, as once again, the success and longevity of an SEO campaign will depend on a variety of different factors.
These include; the age of your website and its current level of optimisation, the nature of its content, as well as the existing backlink profile. Your financial budget is also a key consideration, as you’ll need to invest in high-quality SEO and display a willingness to perceive this as a long-term commitment.
In general terms, however, most SEO firms will advise that it will take anywhere between four and six months for you to see tangible results while reaffirming that this is a gradual process that will improve your business prospects incrementally over time.
That is why you should curb your expectations and refrain from abandoning your SEO strategy too early, as any improvements that you witness after six months will be dwarfed by those present at the end of a year.
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