How Long Does SEO Take?

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.

Back in 2019, I said “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.”

However, this isn’t really the case anymore, especially starting in 2021 with the release of Google’s “Core Web Vitals”.

How Long Does SEO Take?

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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.

How Long Does SEO Take?

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 still important, but, I don’t think this will always be the case. Say what??? Yeah…. hear me out…

Google is getting more and more concerned about things like “Search Intent” and even the speed of and optimization of your website. I think because of this, backlinks are becoming less and less relevant.

I’ve been able to rank client pages at the top of page 1 with no backlinks, even though competitors have backlinks. That isn’t to say that will always be the case, but it seems to be going that way.

In my opinion, if you work hard on getting quality traffic to your website, backlinks will come naturally.

With all of that said, I’m not against building links by using different white-hat link building techniques. Good backlinks will never hurt you. Spammy ones will though.


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 (Steveo). I've been doing Digital Marketing for over a decade. I have a degree in Interactive Media, have worked at several different marketing agencies, and have been running my own businesses for over 10 years. I'm a WordPress, SEO, and Google Ads expert. I know what needs to be done to get results.