How Long Does SEO Really Take to Work?

Patience may be a virtue, but when you’re sitting there patiently waiting for what seems like forever, you’re edging towards leaving patience for money. As they say, time is money. When it comes to search engine optimization, patience truly is a virtue that will bring your website right into the gates of Google’s first page. If you’re reading this right now though, that probably means you’ve been anxiously waiting or wanting to know the elusive SEO answer everyone wants to know. HOW LONG DOES SEO TAKE TO WORK? CAN I SEE AN SEO TIMELINE? WHEN WILL I RANK IN GOOGLE? 

I know you’re not yelling, you’re just excited, that’s great because we are too! But first, let’s take a deep breath because we’re going to need it. And while you’re here, gently close your eyes, think of something that brings you happiness, breathe in, breathe out, smile. Repeat this a few times and focus on the peace you feel within. Goosfraba. Now hold on to that warm, happy feeling as we talk this out…

There’s no sugarcoating it. It’s going to take time. I’m sure it’s something you hear a lot, as it’s something I say a lot, a lot. Generally speaking, the SEO community agrees that it can take an average of 6 months to see results from organic search, but there are many factors we’re working with. If you’re more of a visual and auditory person, this video should help you understand what we’re working with.

Okay, I get it but why does SEO take time?!

Imagine that Google is the ruler of the internet and your website is a lowly subject in Internetland. You want to be noticed by the ruler though, and every time they think of a certain phrase, you want them to think of you. You want to be special in the ruler’s eyes. You can’t just tell the ruler “Hey, look at me, I’m amazing, show me to everyone. LOVE ME!” The goal is to show Google the ruler that you really are as amazing as you say you are. SEO isn’t like one of those movies where the girl has a makeover, and as she walks through the halls of the school everyone turns to look her way as the quarterback realizes she is the one he was looking for all along and she’s suddenly pretty and popular with a boyfriend. Technically speaking that’s called rebranding and PR, not SEO. SEO is more like healthy weight loss. But we’re getting off-topic here. 

SEO is a gradual process because it’s about building trust and authority. You’re going to have to work for your recognition. But getting Google’s attention, and keeping it, isn’t easy.  

Go on…

First, you get Google’s attention by trying really hard. An audit would be a great place to start in identifying what changes you need to make on your website (we actually have a free audit you can try here). Once the weaknesses have been spotted, there’s work to be done. 

But hold on, what else would Google care about when the spiders are crawling your website?

They actually give us some insight into ranking factors here, but it’s not really straightforward. The reality is, there are many different factors that are taken into consideration by Google’s algorithm such as:

  • Engaging Content
  • User Experience
  • Mobile Responsiveness
  • Website Speed
  • Social Metrics
  • Schema Markup
  • Unique Content
  • Crawlability
  • Internal Links
  • External Links
  • Citations

There are a few other factors and their importance varies; it even changes over time. There are arguments surrounding every factor in the SEO community on how important something like social signals actually are. Then there are widely accepted concepts like the importance of content. Either way, it’s the goal to eventually do the best and do the most, with the highest quality possible for each ranking factor when possible.  

Now that we know the things Google is considering in ranking, there’s a lot more work to be done. What does your website look like? Does it play well with others? Is it engaging, making people stay awhile? And is it simple to navigate and interact with? These are all necessary things that make a good site great. Your website should be your primary marketing tool and the way your business is represented digitally. You want it to look good inside and outside, to be friendly to everyone it meets, no matter where they are coming from or who they are. Tablets, Macs, 4G speeds, and that they all find it easy to use. There’s a lot of work that goes into building an SEO friendly website because there’s a lot that goes into ranking it too.

Once you have a pretty good idea of the structure of the site from the frontend and backend, you make way for the king. That’s right, content. You can have a perfectly good site, clean, sleek, sexy but if you don’t have any content on the website, it’s going to be hard to get noticed. 

Really. Content is explanatory, content is engaging, content tells your story, and creates action, it has a purpose. It’s an art really. Say as much as you can, but be very precise and don’t repeat yourself or ramble. Tell everyone everything, but don’t be pushy and salesy. Show the world your value, how you provide a solution. And don’t forget that this is all for the people and Google just wants to make sure it’s what they want to read. Which is why keyword research is also a thing, an important thing at that.

Keyword research is vital to identify search queries related to your business and goals. Competitor and consumer research is necessary to do when creating website content. Your goal is to not only discover what keywords are being searched for your products or services but determine the intent behind the queries. 

For example, let’s say you’re a personal trainer. It would make sense that someone who is going to Google “how to lose weight” would be potentially interested in your services. You think, “great, that’s the main phrase I want to come up for” and then proceed to create this whole page about how to lose weight on your website with all of these studies referenced, pictures, testimonials, everything someone would want to know and engage with. But hold on a second. 

With a quick search of that exact phrase, you see that every first-page organic search results show blogs and articles. And they are all pretty popular websites that your small local business is now competing against. Now it’s not impossible to get ranked, it could happen! It would just take a longer time to happen. But with some initial keyword research and a content strategy from your findings, can help shorten the time it takes to have you show up, at least for certain keywords. This is, after all, strategic work that should be thought out to be most efficient, especially since the question still looms…

When will I see results from SEO?

I know, I know, you’re on the edge of your seat. We have a few more things left.

You did your audit, created the strategy, optimized the site, created the content, aligned your H1s and H2s while doing the whole Goosfraba thing in the process. Way to go! The hardest (and to some the fun) part is over and now it’s the big test of patience.

Wait, there’s more I need to rank in Google besides an SEO content strategy? 

Well, yes. Once you’ve made your site perfect in the eyes of Google, you have to make sure your website is also visible for Google’s spiders to crawl, which is called indexing. To index a site is to tell Google you’ve moved into its kingdom and you’re ready for them to visit. 

This is kinda like in Cinderella when the steward is trying to find who the glass slipper belongs to. He only has the list of the eligible maidens who were at the party to search for. He doesn’t know about Cinderella because she wasn’t on the list and if she was she wasn’t making herself known for it.

For Cinderella that took a day, maybe two, to find the rightful owner but it was a small town. But for Google, it takes about 6 weeks.

You have to take into account that EVERYONE wants to be on the top of Google’s list (there’s about 130 trillion last time we checked) and you’re competing with them for attention. 

And then, you have to get other websites talking about your website, basically endorsing it to Google and reinforcing what you’re saying about being the greatest. That is link building and you also have to wait for Google to notice them and take into account that they mentioned you.

Google is a fair ruler however and does notice those who have been around longer. If your website is new, it’s going to take more time than an older site to get ranked because essentially, an older website already has street cred. But if that older website tried to get ahead and hired an SEO “wizard” that promised they would get 1st page and ranked in a month, that SEO wizard very likely cursed the website and got it on Google’s blacklist. This is also known as blackhat SEO and if you think you’ve fallen victim, please call or email us right now.

Do you see where I’m going with this?


Go back to that feeling of peace and relaxation we spoke about earlier. We’ll make it through this. Besides time in general, we should talk about the volatility of Google’s algorithm. 

A great man once said, “With great power comes great responsibility”. Google is the number one used search engine in the entire world. There are over 3 billion searches A DAY. Google wants to impress and serve you. But you need to understand that in all its power and greatness, Google is a fickle creature just like us. It comes from a good place, really. Google’s algorithm is constantly changing and going through updates to provide the best search results for all user’s queries. Google is a machine, a robot, made to make your life easier truly and it’s always looking for the best ways to do that. Therefore the weight of each ranking factor can differ throughout time, and more factors can be added with algorithm updates. 

Then you also have to take your keywords and competition into consideration. Is there a lot of competition? Are you targeting a local or national audience? Remember different keywords and queries are going to bring in different results which is why the initial research is important!

I’m seeing some keywords move up and traffic increase! Where’s my money?

You want to know when you’re going to see an ROI with SEO once all that work has been done. That’s an easy one. Once your keywords are on the first page of Google, you’ll start seeing more traffic to your website. In theory, of course.

You’re telling me… I really do have to wait to start making money on SEO.

Well… yes. However, Google is a Business and as we mentioned, time is money. If you want to be on top of Google, dominate the entire SERP, then advertising with Google is a fast and sure way to increase your traffic. Based on your budget and competition of course. 

At the end of the day, trust takes time to build and, as users of Google we all appreciate it. You want the results you find to be legitimate and trustworthy, always. And in our busy lives, we’re not trying to go to page two of Google (well, sometimes) to find the best dog portrait artist in Denver or how to recover from a mid-life crisis. We want answers and we want the best ones, which our benevolent ruler does provide.