How Long Does SEO Take to Work?

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Business owners and digital marketers are obsessed with the latest, trendiest marketing fad or gadget. Digital ad spending increases year after year, reaching $605 billion by the end of 2020 according to predictions. 

Likewise, social media marketing is also on the rise. Social media advertising reached $25.56 billion in 2019, a 107% increase from 2016. 

There is no end to how money you can spend chasing the latest marketing craze. Marketing fads come and go, however. Some marketing strategies, such as PPC, disappear the second you stop pumping money into them. 

While we need to keep up with marketing and digital advertising trends, we also need to invest in time-honored digital marketing strategies like SEO. SEO is literally the foundation that the Internet is built upon. The trouble is that it can take some time to see results. It’s not quite as immediate and exciting as other marketing strategies that favor fast results over longevity. 

So, how long does it take for SEO to start working? We’re going to delve into search engine optimization to give you an idea of what to expect and a time frame for your digital strategies. 

To do this, however, first we must have an understanding of SEO and how it works. 

What Is SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimization. It’s how a website is configured to appeal to search engines. A large part of its appeal is that it offers organic search engine traffic in a way that no other digital marketing discipline can. 

The content that search engines return are known as ‘search engine results pages,’ or SERPs. Each SERP contains a mixture of web content that matches the search criteria, sponsored ads, videos, and local listings. Search engines results are constantly changing and are determined by algorithms, which determine which results are best suited for the user’s specific query. Search engine algorithms are constantly changing, too. 

Google is the main search engine, as it makes up a huge percentage of web traffic. It’s certainly not the only game in town, however. There’s also Bing, DuckDuckGo, and Yandex. 

Calculating SEO is a very complex equation with a lot of different variables. It’s comprised of 3 main components, which are assessed to come up with the SEO ranking. 

On-Page SEO

On-page SEO is the most basic form of SEO. It’s what most people who don’t know much about search engine optimization think of when they consult an SEO agency. It’s based around how search engines assess web pages to come up with an SEO ranking. 

Search engines use web crawlers, which are known as spiders, to first assess and then summarize a website’s content. These are then stored in a massive database. When you do a search for “Where to buy sneakers near me,” for instance, that query is run through the database, which then returns the most pertinent results.

Spiders crawl a website looking for a few different things. The first is keywords. This is how often select words or phrases show up on a website, which is known as keyword density. This was the standard on how SEO was determined during the early days of the Internet. When a business owner asks to rank #1 for a particular keyword or phrase, it shows they’re still thinking of SEO in those terms. 

Not all appearances are considered equally, however. There are different factors that give a keyword’s appearance more weight, such as where it appears. Spiders will crawl the page title, headers, and tags to determine what a web page is about. Having keywords in those key areas are weighted more heavily than simply having those words appear in the text. (More on that in a moment.) 

Some other factors that are determined to calculate the on-page SEO score are:

  • Internal links
  • Mobile responsiveness
  • Page authority distribution
  • Keyword stemming 

Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO is most commonly known as link building. It’s where a search engine consults links back to your website that are relevant and authentic, from a trusted website with a high authority.

Pages with a higher authority give more weight to a link. This is why a link from a well-established source, such as Forbes, are so important and in such high demand. That’s also why high quality links have become so difficult to come by as the years have progressed. 

Building up your SEO requires having a thorough backlink strategy. These are the steps you can take to help attract links to your web content. 

  • Write authoritative content that will people will want to link to.
  • Look for guest posting opportunities
  • Finding broken backlinks

Technical SEO

Technical SEO are the other factors that a search engine assesses to evaluate a website. Technical SEO factors usually relate to how a website performs. It’s gotten more important as the years have progressed, as more people are browsing the Internet with mobile and the Internet, as a whole, has become more entwined with our daily lives. 

Page load time is one common factor that becomes more important with each new algorithm update. The bounce rate, which is how long it takes for a user to leave your website, goes up for every second a page takes to load. The bounce rate for 1 to 3 second load times is 32%. If a page load time goes from 1 to 5 seconds, the bounce rate becomes an eye-widening 90%

Mobile responsiveness is another factor that’s very important for a website’s technical SEO score. At this point, over half of Internet traffic comes from mobile devices. Search engines know this and rank pages accordingly. 

Internet security is also one of the most important factors for calculating technical SEO. This involves using secure web technology such as HTTPs.

Finally, having a page that loads smoothly is one of the final technical SEO considerations that plays a big part in how a web page ranks in the SERPs. Having too many redirects or 403 errors will weigh heavily against a site’s overall SEO score. 

How Long Does SEO Take To Work?

There is no simple, straightforward answer to this question. As you can see from some of the topics we’ve already discussed, it can take a while for SEO to really start working. It’s worth it, though, as it’s almost the only way to get regular, consistent, organic traffic to your website. 

First of all, web crawls only happen every so often. Changes to your website take a moment to get indexed and for your SEO score to adjust accordingly. Generally speaking, web crawls happen every hour or two. Indexing scores are only assessed every day or two, however. 

The first SEO keyword you’re likely to see results for are your company or brand names. This is when people are looking up your company, specifically. You can rank for your company or brand name in just a few weeks, usually. 

Ranking for common keywords and phrases is a more difficult matter, however, as there’s a lot more competition for those results. It can take from 2 to 3 months to rank for an uncommon keyword. It can take several years to rank for common keywords that have a lot of competition. 

Overall, you can usually start to see significant results from focusing on SEO from 4 to 12 months, according to Google. Having a solid SEO strategy can streamline that process, helping you to see results as quickly as possible. 

Consider local SEO, for instance. Local SEO is almost guaranteed to be less competitive than a broader market, as you’re dealing with a smaller pool with less competitors in it. Focusing on local SEO is one quick way to help your web page climb the SERP results. 

An example of an SEO strategy for local SEO would be to check and make sure all of your business listings are up-to-date and accurate, most importantly with your Google My Business page. Next, you could reach out to other members of your local community for guest posting opportunities, which are often much more accessible than giant websites like the New York Times.  

Why SEO Takes So Long

There’s no real way to game the SEO system. The days of black hat keyword stuffing are long gone. In fact, trying to artificially boost your web page’s SEO ranking artificially is far more likely to do harm than good. 

SEO takes so long to see results as search engine’s main priority is to return useful, relevant content to the user. They’re very careful to make sure a website is the real deal. Otherwise, the web quickly becomes unusable, as you might remember if you remember the days before search engine algorithms were so robust and bogus SEO tactics still worked. 

Let’s look at some of the factors that determine how long it will take to start seeing SEO results. 

Your Competition Also Uses SEO

Search engine optimization is no longer an industry secret. It’s a well-established part of the business world at this point. This means that virtually everybody is also trying to show up in the SERPs. 

Of course, this becomes much less of a factor when you’re dealing with less competition. That’s where finding unique niches comes in, which have less competition. 

Quality > Quantity

As we discussed earlier, search engines’ main concern is how useful a website is. This means having content that is actually useful, interesting, engaging, and entertaining, that bring real value to your audience. This means focusing on quality over quantity. 

Say you’re wanting to rank for a particular keyword. In the old Wild West days of black hat SEO, you’d simply hire an SEO agency to church out content around those keywords with no thought of usefulness or context. This type of content was dirt cheap and you usually got what you paid for. 

Who’s going to want to link to a poorly written, misinformed, boring article though? Nobody. 

Instead, if you invest some time, energy, and resources on producing high quality content, people will link back to your website naturally. 

Again, this shows how there’s no real magic wand or fast forward button to SEO success. People that offer you guaranteed results in a specific amount of time probably have a bridge to sell you, too. Tread carefully. 

Simply put, some of the main factors that influence SEO ranking simply aren’t for sale. You can’t bribe a journalist from Forbes to link back to your website. You can’t fake an industry whitepaper that establishes you as a thought leader in your sector. 

Examples Of A Good SEO Strategy

You won’t see success with SEO overnight. It’s a good example of the old adage, “slow and steady wins the race.” 

As an example of what an SEO strategy might look like, you might start by determining what keywords you’re trying to rank for. Perhaps you’ll do some keyword research and find some SEO phrases in your niche that are relatively low competition. 

Next, you might start developing some blog posts around those keywords. If you’re not already hosting a blog on your website, you absolutely should. Search engines heavily prefer websites that are regularly updated, for one thing. It’s also a piece of digital real estate where you can fit in as much content around in a particular niche as you want. 

Once you’ve got a keyword strategy in place, you’ll have a better idea of how to implement your SEO strategy. You might find local businesses in your niche, for starters. Then you can reach out and inquire about guest posting opportunities and start building backlinks to your website. 

Once you’ve got a list of keywords and some content to promote, you can use these assets as part of your social media marketing efforts as well. This is just an example of how SEO can play a part in your other marketing efforts. You don’t need to focus on one or the other. Instead, you should be doing both. 

Focusing on the latest marketing trends and technology while also investing in time-honored, established business techniques like SEO is a recipe for success. You’ll only get more successful as time goes on, as well. Your company will become increasingly entrenched in your industry as time goes on.

Ready To Find Out How SEO Can Help You Succeed?

SEO is the foundation that the Internet is built on. A solid SEO strategy is fundamental to digital success. That requires a solid SEO partner in your corner, bringing high quality content to your audience and keeping up with the latest technical innovations and trends. 

If you’re ready to find out how an SEO rockstar can boost your brand to success, contact We Rock Digital today and begin your path to success. 

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How Long Does SEO Take to Work?

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