SEO has long been a proven marketing strategy—but how long it takes to show results is an often-elusive statistic. It seems like we should expect a quick turnaround, because our actions typically lead to instantaneous results in the digital age. SEO is about playing the long game and oftentimes takes weeks to months to see results. This blog post will walk you through both the importance of implementing an SEO strategy, and the expected timeframe it takes to see results.
Why Does SEO Take So Long?
For companies who are taking their first step into the world of SEO, their situation is often tricky. They have a brand-new website, perhaps a new domain name, high-quality content and a beautiful layout—but their website is just that: brand new. Older domains, even ones with a low-quality user experience, often win out in ranking. Though it remains unclear just how much weight domain age carries, older sites are generally more built-out and have more back links (more on this in our next MSB blog post), establishing a certain level of trust that is naturally favored by Google.
SEO Isn’t Only About Rankings
Rankings often dominate the SEO circle but any good SEO company knows it’s about more than just rankings. If your SEO strategy gets you ranking well but doesn’t include improving user experience, your high rankings aren’t likely to last long. This is because your site users care about how your website looks and feels. If your site loads too slowly or isn’t intuitive to navigate, users are going to leave in favor of a different, prettier, faster site, increasing your bounce rate, decreasing your conversion rate, and effectively dropping your rankings.
The SEO Implementation Process
Step 1: RESEARCH & AUDIT.
If you want to create SEO strategy for a company, you have to understand the entirety of the company first. An audit will reveal your website’s current status in terms of SEO strategy and will create the core of the implementation plan.
Step 2: TECHNICAL IMPROVEMENTS.
The next step is largely dictated by the audit. A site might need a total overhaul, or it may need a handful of straight-forward site accessibility improvements. The size of the gap that you need to close in order to catch up influences how much time it will take to begin seeing results from your SEO work. There are a variety of SEO tools you can use, but the ones we use most often are Moz, SEMRush, and Google’s suite of analytics and webmaster tools.
Step 3: CONTENT CREATION.
Whether it is optimizing existing pages or creating new ones, content is the predominant way to build authority. Users respond well to high-quality content—and when users love it, Google is bound to love it too.
Step 4: WHAT’S NEXT?
What follows creating a great site with great content will depend on your industry, goals, and competition. The rule of thumb here is generally as follows: do what the competition is doing, but better.
The most important step of all doesn’t deserve a number (though perhaps infinity works if we’re being mathematically philosophical): SEO strategy never stops. Just as your concept of search engine optimization before you read this article might now seem outdated, our current approach to SEO will soon be obsolete. Google’s algorithm is constantly changing, which means SEO strategy requires agility and adaptability. So: study up now and always be on the look-out for announcements from Google and other industry leaders for the latest in SEO.
So, What’s the Answer?
If I have to pick a number, the answer is: 4-12 months. But, keep in mind that even if you see your ranking improve within 6 months, year-over-year data will give you the best indication of your strategy’s performance. While it requires some patience—but if it is well-executed and carefully tracked, SEO is bound to bring you some traffic and conversions with little financial overhead.