How Long Does SEO Take?

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When people ask me “How long will it take to see results from SEO”. I usually tell them 3-6 months. However, it isn’t that cut and dry.

SEO takes time. It isn’t a “set it and forget it” thing. SEO isn’t like how it was several years ago where you can spam links on non-relevant sites and place your keyword on the page 20 times to rank in the first position. Google and other search engines have grown so much smarter, and now it’s all about the searcher and their search intent.

The truth is, there’s really no exact way to tell exactly how long SEO takes. Let’s dive into some of the factors in why we can’t say exactly how long SEO will take.

Website Age and Authority

While some websites can see results in as little as a week or two, others can take 6 months or more.

This is especially true if it’s a new website. Why is this?

When you look at the top ranking websites for the search query that you’re trying to target, you’re most likely seeing websites that have high authority and are established. You probably won’t see websites that have a few pages on there with no traffic.

A good example is this website that I started. It launched in April of 2018. Notice that it didn’t really start to get any traffic until June/July. Why? Because we were competing with established, high authority websites like Etsy. Even now, we’re still competing with them and always will be.

Traffic Trend from SEMRush

Fixing Website Issues

Does your website have any technical issues like 404 errors or broken images? If you have any major issues like those, you aren’t going to rank as high as you should. Search engines love fast websites with no major issues and will favor them.

You can do a quick website audit using my favorite too, Website Auditor, for free if you have under 500 pages.

Website Speed

How fast does your website load? Speed is actually one of the biggest ranking factors. Why? Because a slow website is frustrating to users. People are impatient and don’t like waiting for more than a few seconds. If Google and other search engines see that your website loads slow, they won’t rank you above your competition, even if you have amazing content.

To check your website speed, you can use tools like Pingdom, GTMetrix or Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

I will say that even though speed IS VERY important, I wouldn’t recommend getting caught up in the actual scores that the tools give. Just look at the overall load time. If it’s under a couple of seconds, you’re good.

On my site, for example, Pingdom gives it a C rating, but the load time is only 1.21 seconds, which is perfectly acceptable in my book.

Website Speed Test

SSL Certificates

You need to make sure that your website has an SSL certificate. Your website host should offer this for free. If they don’t, find a different one that does.

Why does it matter? First,?Google has hinted that websites loaded as HTTPS instead of HTTP will see a ranking boost. Maybe not immediately, but they are working towards it being the standard.

And let’s not forget about the users – GlobalSign recently did a study showing?84% of users would abandon a purchase if data was sent over an insecure connection.

People abandoning purchases and backing out of your website because it isn’t secure is a BIG problem. Not only have you lost sales, but search engines see this too, which in turn will hurt your rankings.

Website Content

Do you have GOOD, well-written content on your website? Do you just have a few pages or are you consistently adding valuable content?

Chances are, your competitors ranking on the first page for your keyword you’re trying to target has a blog, with pages getting added on a regular basis. Most of the time these don’t need to be 2,000-word blog posts, but it should be relevant content that is well written. I would recommend writing a new page or post at least once a month – more often when your website is just getting off of the ground.

But What About Backlinks?

It’s true that backlinks are VERY important, but I’m a proponent of getting backlinks naturally. And get this… so is Google!

This is largely my opinion and I know some may not agree. This is probably one of the most heated subjects in SEO. People think that it’s perfectly fine to go out and buy links or exchange them. However, I’m against this. Why? Because it’s against Google’s Quality Guidelines when pertaining to Link Schemes. Basically, if it isn’t acquired naturally, then it is against their guidelines.

Could you get away with buying links? Sure you could, and a lot of people have. I just see a future where Google will catch up to these people, and I don’t consider it “White Hat”.

With all of that said, backlinks are a really big ranking factor now, and likely will be for the foreseeable future.

In my opinion, if you work hard on getting quality traffic to your website, backlinks WILL come naturally. It may take longer, but it’s the right “future proof” way that will make Google happy.


As you can see, there are a lot of ranking factors, and it’s next to impossible to tell someone how long it will take their website to start ranking. If you work hard and consistently at it, I have seen most new sites start rank within 3-6 months. However, if you don’t put in the work, it may never rank.

Stephen O'Neal

Stephen O'Neal

My name is Stephen O'Neal. I specialize in digital marketing and helping businesses step up their game online through Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Marketing.

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