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How Long Does SEO Take To Work?

How long does SEO take to work? How long for backlinks to take effect? How long does SEO take to see results?

These are all great questions, and questions you should ask before committing time and money to an SEO campaign.

The short answer to the question, how long does it take for SEO to work, is simple: Generally, it takes a while.

How long is a while? That depends mainly on your SEO starting point: 

  • The overall SEO-readiness of your website
  • The number and quality of links pointing to your website
  • The position of your website relative to your SEO competitors
  • The competitiveness of the keywords you need to target
  • The budget available to implement the SEO campaign

How Long for SEO to Work? As Long as It Takes for Google to Be Impressed

When you’re trying to predict how long does it take for SEO changes to take effect, you must first recognize that a lengthy timeframe is built in to the whole field of SEO. Here’s why.

Google has had a love-hate relationship with SEO from the beginning. On the one hand, Google wants SEO specialists to optimize sites in ways that make a company’s website easier to use and provide the highest-quality information possible. Why?

Because if people using the Google search engine get lousy organic results, they’ll stop using the Google search engine. If they stop using the Google search engine, Google’s advertisers — the people who produce the vast majority of Google’s revenue — will spend their ad dollars elsewhere. That’s the love part. Google provides plenty of information to coach SEOs on how to optimize websites the right way.

The hate part comes in when SEO specialists try to manipulate Google’s search engine so lousy websites and lousy web content rises to the top of Google’s organic results. Unfortunately, overaggressive or outright unethical SEOs have taken advantage of loopholes in Google’s system to do just that. And, if you’ve ever experienced the frustration of doing a search on Google and clicking on a prominent link that doesn’t meet your needs, you know how frustrating that is.

If Google spots unethical SEO tactics, or what it deems to be unethical SEO tactics, it may take action — from warnings to suspension to permanent delisting of a website. To be banned from Google — which has a market share of organic search in excess of 90 percent — is the kiss of death for most companies. Thus, the risk of taking shortcuts, of trying to manipulate Google’s search results, is extremely high. 

Why Does SEO Take So Long?

This is why it takes a while for results to kick in on Google. Any big change in your SEO profile that occurs overnight is liable to look like manipulation in Google’s eyes. For instance, adding pages to your website, in general, is a good way to improve your rankings — Google sees fresh content as being valuable in itself, plus it shows you are committed to informing and educating your website visitors. However, if you add, say, 1,000 pages to your website in a couple of days, Google may interpret that as a blitz attack using substandard or auto-generated content simply in an effort to give rankings a quick and substantial boost. Even if you have a budget and army of copywriters able to produce that much content, you’re likely to be far better off spreading out the publication over several months or longer — doing so demonstrates to Google you have a long-term commitment to quality content. 

Another area where fast action can be counterproductive is in link building. How long does SEO take? To a large extent, as long as it takes to build a portfolio of high-quality inbound links. Why? Because of all the 200-plus ranking factors in Google’s algorithm, a backlink profile is usually the most important, and by a wide margin. 

This is why SEOs are so tempted to create a lot of links quickly. Bad idea! Just as with content, too much link building activity too quickly makes Google suspicious. There are all sorts of link building scams and gimmicks circulating around the Web, and they should be avoided at all cost. You’ve got to live with the idea that “a while” is the usual answer to the question, “How long dies SEO take to work?”

When Fast SEO Results Are Possible

There are situations where SEO changes take effect quickly. For instance, if you sell a very specialized product or service, there are probably not a lot of competitors fighting for the same keywords. With a systematic and decently funded SEO campaign, you may be able to put a lot of distance between your website and the competition in a matter of a few months — perhaps even faster. Another possibility is the situation where you are able to get one or two backlinks from very, very, very prestigious websites. When Google sees a super-important website linking to your content, it concludes your business must be something special — something Google search engine users will want to see. Yet another fast-track SEO situation arises when circumstances beyond your control come to your aid. Maybe a big SEO competitor goes out of business. Maybe some lower-priority keywords you’ve been doing well with become wildly popular on Google searches. You can’t budget or plan for circumstances such as these, but they happen. SEO is not always a brutal, uphill battle.

How Long Does SEO Take to See Results? Competent SEO Helps Enormously 

The ability of your SEO firm can speed up results, slow them down or eliminate them entirely! An effective SEO campaign requires careful strategy, selection of the right tactics, efficient execution of tactics, precise collection of data and intelligent analysis of that data to produce continually improving results. 

Considering there are more than 200 ranking factors in Google’s algorithm, considering that every company has a unique starting point for SEO, and considering the continuous evolution of SEO best practice and user behavior, there are hundreds of options that could be combined to create a campaign. The challenge is to identify the right options and the right emphasis.

To discuss how to improve SEO results, contact us now or call 855-883-0011.