How Long Does SEO Take to Produce Results?

Watching the time to see results.

In a world of instant gratification, SEO is not. But as the saying goes, nothing good comes easy. Search engine optimization takes time.

Once you build momentum though, you can expect results. You should find your organic channel driving the most traffic to your site, and often being the largest contributor to your revenue online. Let’s now look closer at how long SEO takes to see results and the factors that come into play.

How Long Does It Take to See Results from SEO?

Depending on the website, it could take up to one year to see the kind of results you are hoping for — but for many, results could happen in months. At one point it took us two years to rank No. 1 out of millions of results for a certain target query. So a precise answer to how long will it take is: “It depends.”

In some instances, certain fixes can produce near-instant results. For example, if something is hindering the site’s being crawled and indexed, like a robots.txt file that’s blocking the search engines, a correction can make an instant impact.

But, in most cases, several months to a year is the timeframe. And even Google confirmed this:

Google quote: SEOs need four months to a year.
Screenshot from Google’s video “How to hire an SEO”

How many months? It depends on many factors, which I’ll discuss in this article.

That said, let’s look at the contributors that impact how long it will take a website to see results from SEO.

5 Factors That Impact How Quickly You Can Get SEO Results

1. Your Website

The website is the weapon we take into the SEO battle. Entering into a gunfight with a dull knife is not going to be a rewarding experience.

Remember: It’s not the job of SEO to make a pig fly. You need useful, quality content to rank in search. But even with that, if a website has been unmaintained for years, it’s going to take a lot more work to get it to a place where it can start competing in the search results.

Let’s also not forget the work that goes into cleaning up a low-quality link profile or a Google penalty situation, which must be done before you can start competing.

2. Your Industry

Some industries are held to a higher standard than others in the Google universe. What that means is that if, for example, your website has “your money or your life” content (aka YMYL), you may have more work to do in order to compete. It’s important to understand things like Google’s “Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines” and its guidance on expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (E-A-T) and on making sure your content passes the “needs met” test.

3. Your Competition

Whether or not you get traction sooner rather than later also hinges on your competition online. If, for example, you are targeting a more competitive space that is saturated, then it may take longer to gain visibility in the search results. So, you need to understand your competition in order to beat them. What is their SEO strategy? What do they have that you don’t? Getting these insights can help you move along further and faster.

4. Your Resources

A big contributor to how fast you can get results is your resources. What I mean when I say resources is the size of your budget, the type of SEO you invest in and how seriously you take it.

Getting recommendations and implementing them are two entirely different things. For example, don’t expect to get fast results if you:

5. Your Strategy

Keep in mind that when you invest in high-quality SEO services, there’s a lot more to it than simply ticking boxes on an SEO checklist. The SEO strategy you apply to your website has a lot to do with how fast you see results. You’ll want a roadmap with an SEO audit, which lays the needed groundwork to identify any site issues, architect the content in an SEO-friendly way, and go after a whole-SERP strategy.

At the end of the day, SEO takes time. It’s a long-term investment you will want to make in your site so that you can continue to be relevant in the search results and reap the rewards.

If you’re ready to explore what it will take to see SEO results for your business, contact us today.

Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay, Inc., a global digital marketing firm providing search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with him on LinkedIn and other social networks from Bruce's author page.
Comments (14)
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14 Replies to “How Long Does SEO Take to Produce Results?”

I am working on my website on daily basis and your article was a real boost for me. I am entering this gunfight with huge guns now. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

This is really good. SEO is such a long process. This gives me insight how it exactly works! Thank you so much.

Great post. When we discuss timelines with our search reputation management clients, we preach patience and try to give them a six month expectation for long-term results.

I totally agree with all this..However, a lot depends as well on if your client ( or friend as sometimes the case may be) –LISTENS to your advice and IMPLEMENTS the strategy laid out for them. Some people expect the SEO person to be the one end-all: a copy writer, image creator, web designers, social media manager and GMB expert for the rate of the lowest package they think they can “afford”.

Hi Bruce,
I find this article very interesting as I’m new to the industry, only to realize it would take some time to see the changes in optimizing the website’s SEO. I’ve been bugged by this same question since I started. Thank you so much for clearing the air for me. I really do appreciate it.

Regards,

Solid article! You made several points I agree with. SEO takes time. Most people quit too early because they don’t see the results they are looking for. I think people have this idea that Google is able to compute things instantly whereas, in reality this is far from the truth. It seems to me that they have a lot of inbuilt processes to actually slow things down and thereby prevent SEO’s from manipulating the search results. Links can take anywhere between 3-6 months to kick in, so it would be safe to say that a SEO campaign can easily take 6 months plus to deliver results. Difficult to explain to clients that want instant results but that’s the brutal truth.

No one understands that SEO activities are to be done on daily basis, and its on-going process, clients and non-technical business owners want in stant results and they think that Adwords is the best option for them, which is wrong perception. I’ll happily share this blog post with many who expect results from SEO.

Dear Sir,
I have 01 Question if you answer, please. I am working as an SEO Professional for the last 3 months for a single website that was newly started. I had fixed the Robots.txt file, Schema.org etc. also working on several SEO Off-page factors by increasing the Backlinks. SO I have seen the improvement of my website Ranking.

Here the question is that it is through Backlinks or it is through Robots.txt & Schema.org??

Great post. When we discuss timelines with our search reputation management clients, we preach patience and try to give them a six month expectation for long-term results.

I’m not convinced about EAT. I’ve been working in the automotive sector for thirty years and share a wealth of valuable information for private motorists. Certainly, the content is of better quality than competitors. Yes my website does not compete for the four huge volumed search phrases.

The lion’s share of SEO continues to lend to links. The algorithm is not intelligent to the point where it can comprehend valuable content against link power.

IT Support

I totally agree with all this..However, a lot depends as well on if your client ( or friend as sometimes the case may be) –LISTENS to your advice and IMPLEMENTS the strategy laid out for them. Some people expect the SEO person to be the one end-all: a copy writer, image creator, web designers, social media manager and GMB expert for the rate of the lowest package they think they can “afford”. Most of these clients dont realize the TIME that goes into an audit, strategy and implementation, let alone the time for SEO to produce results.

Hi Bruce,
I find this article very interesting as I’m new to the industry, only to realize it would take some time to see the changes in optimizing the website’s SEO. I’ve been bugged by this same question since I started. Thank you so much for clearing the air for me. I really do appreciate it.

Regards,
Chris

After optimizing the SEO of a website, it will typically take around 3-4 months before you notice significant results. This may seem like a long time, but it’s in line with Google’s official guidelines on the topic.

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