Semalt: How Long Does SEO Take?
One of the most common questions in search engine optimization is "How long does SEO actually take?". Obviously, it is not so easy to answer how long it takes for your website to reach the coveted top spots in the Google ranking. However, there are various factors that can contribute significantly to the SEO duration and the ranking success of the desired website. In this blog article, we explain what these are and how typical mistakes can be avoided.
How does Google Ranking work?
Google wants to provide its users with the most useful information possible. Whether they're looking to buy a pair of pink running shoes or are looking for inheritance information, Google ranks them to ensure they are connected to quality content that provides the information they need or answers their question.
Search engines rank your website based on relevance to searcher intent. Whether and at what point your page finally appears in the search results depends on several aspects, which we will deepen in this blog article. Generally speaking, priority is given to quality content with quality content from trusted websites.
Step 1: Indexing
In order for a website to end up in the search results, it must first be indexed. So-called "crawlers" are used for indexing, bots that use links to fight their way through the vast number of websites on the Internet, analyze the content found, and report the results back to Google. Algorithms then sort the indexed web pages based on relevance to certain keywords and determine the ranking in search results for those keywords. You have various options for accelerating the indexing of your website with the help of clean indexing management and control via robots.txt.
Applying for indexing
Google provides website operators with various options for applying for indexing. The only requirement is a free Google account, but it is not guaranteed how long indexing will take.
Enter website with the Google Search Console
With the help of the Search Console, you can monitor the performance of your own website and also enter your own sitemap, which is then crawled by the search engine. This process can take up to 24 hours and is limited to ten URLs per month.
Meeting General SEO Criteria
The various aspects of your SEO strategy also allow you to increase the frequency with which your site is crawled by robots. If you want your site to rank as high as possible in search results, in addition to good keyword selection and the creation of high-quality content, other factors must be right, all related to the duration of action of your SEO measures.
Step 2: The ranking
As important as indexing is for your visibility, it is of little use if the website ends up at the bottom of the search results. As you probably know, your goal is to get to the top positions in organic search results with your website. There are many SEO myths and each one tells a slightly different story of how exactly the positioning in the Google ranking comes about. One faction claims that newly indexed websites rank particularly well because they are tested in this way (newbie bonus).
On the other hand, the other fraction claims that Google initially distrusts new websites and defers their ranking until they have proven themselves (sandbox principle). However, after various changes in the algorithm, there is, now, more confusion about the ranking than ever before.
Therefore, in 2017, Ahref conducted a study that showed the average time it takes for a website to rank well on Google. To do this, they analyzed how old the top ranking for any two million keywords was and came to the conclusion that the average top 10 search result is more than two years old. Just 22 percent of the search results in the top 10 are less than a year old.
Which factors influence the SEO duration?
In principle, three important factors can be distinguished that can influence the time required for you to experience visible success and the first good results of your SEO measures:
- Your current situation and planned SEO measures
- Your SEO competition
- The search engine algorithm
The foundation of every successful campaign is of course your website, on which most of the search engine optimization measures take place. If this is poorly optimized, whether, in terms of content or technology, this poses the first challenge to SEO success and slows down your success. The goal is not only to satisfy your visitors but also the search algorithm.
The first important step to be successful in the Google ranking is the technical optimization (technical SEO) of the website. Attention is paid to fundamental factors such as the accessibility of the content and its indexing. It should of course be easy for the Googlebot to crawl your website and analyze the content so that you can achieve good rankings as quickly as possible. Care should be taken to provide an XML sitemap, to use the "follow" and "nofollow" attributes correctly, and to avoid security gaps related to SSL certificates or 404 errors.
In addition to the technical optimization, the content also has a major impact on your positioning in the search results. An important keyword here is the relevance of your content. Does the content match the user's search query? Do you have content that matches the search query or do you need to create new ones? It's not about writing pure SEO texts, but about understanding the search intent behind a keyword and solving the user's problem.
Trust and link profile
But it's not just about good content and technical measures. Building trust is just as important. Google evaluates various trust signals that indicate to what extent the website is reputable, how the user finds his / her way around, and what he / she is looking for. It usually takes a lot of time for a domain to gain trust for a specific topic. Fast occurrence can be achieved by more positive signals in a short time.
How long it takes to build trust depends on a variety of factors. In addition to the website itself, it also depends on budget and skill. While it is quite possible to have good rankings within a few weeks in smaller industries, it takes much longer in large, established industries. As described above, Google prefers content that has been indexed for several months or years and also preferably from a well-known domain. Age is a kind of vote of confidence for the search engine.
Another trust-building factor that can increase your Google ranking is a quality link profile and strong backlinks. Without qualitative backlinks (incoming references from third-party domains) to your site, it will take longer for your SEO activities to take effect. Search engines prefer any website that has many and above all high-quality backlinks and places these pages in the top places.
In the early days of Google, backlinks were pretty much the only way to measure a website's ranking, but that has changed to this day. But even if backlinks have lost some of their importance in the meantime, they still play a very important role in today's off-page SEO.
Your SEO competition
Another factor that influences the time it takes for your website to rank well is the competitive situation in your industry. So specifically: How good are the rankings of your competitors? If your competition is significantly better off in the search results, you probably have to contend with high competition to reach the top rankings. If you work in a niche with your product/service, the effort and costs are rather low and you will reach the goals of your site faster.
However, if you are active in an area with well-known brands and strong keywords, and in the worst case with a new website, the measures to be taken must be much more extensive to achieve the same goal.
As you battle for the top position on Google, make sure you track it per keyword. Finally, the strength and relevancy of individual websites count, not just the overall strength and authority of your domain (age, backlinks, and traffic).
The search engine algorithm
Another crucial criterion for SEO duration is the search algorithm. Even if your site is indexed and fully meets all ranking criteria, it can still take a few weeks or months for the first results to show up. This is because the search algorithm is a form of quality assurance. It prevents the placement of irrelevant or even incorrect information on the first pages of search results.
In short, the algorithm should ensure that the information from the search results really satisfies the needs of the user. Therefore, Google released an update in 2018 that focuses on the quality factors of expertise, authority, and trust. In general, these Quality Guidelines are also referred to as Google EAT.
Of course, this also has advantages for search engine operators. They bind users to the search engine and get to know the people behind the queries, generating relevant user data that can in turn be made available to advertisers.
How is a sustainable SEO effect built up?
Below we describe a plausible scenario, which SEO measures are to be taken one after the other and what results you can expect. Keep in mind that it depends on how well or poorly your site is optimized, how strong your competition is, and how intensively your site is maintained. For the first visible results, you have to reckon with about 3-6 months. For noticeable visitor growth, you usually have to be patient with about 9-12 months.
Phase 1: Analysis & planning
In the beginning, there is the analysis and planning phase. They identify where the problems with the website lie and how they can be rectified. At the same time, the positioning of the company and its competition are determined. This lays the foundation for all further steps.
Therefore, you must take care to do the analysis well with a latest-generation SEO tool such as Semalt's Dedicated SEO Dashboard. Indeed, the Dedicated SEO Dashboard is an all-in-one tool that is equipped with several features to perform SEO tasks in a short period of time.
Among these features we have the:
Google Search Analysis: This DSD feature allows you to do an in-depth analysis on the competition to know their keywords that attract traffic and also understand their promotion strategy. In addition, you can use this Dashboard feature set to display your site's positions in Google search, as well as the TOP pages and keywords it is ranked for.
SEO-technical audit: One of the competitive advantages of this tool is that you can perform a complete analysis of your site. Everything from technical audit and speed check to plagiarism check is now on the same platform.
The biggest advantage of this tool is that it allows you to reduce the number of tool subscriptions thanks to its many features.
So, I invite you to learn about each of these features on demo.semalt.com.
Phase 2: Evaluation
Once all the data has been determined within the first phase, the evaluation follows. What is going well and where is action needed? Within the evaluation phase, the data from the analysis is combined with the targets to create an action plan.
Phase 3: Technical SEO Modification
This is where the actual optimization phase of your website begins. Technical adjustments and further revisions of your website can be carried out continuously based on the action plan. In this phase, no results are evidently visible, these usually only take effect after the revision has been completed.
Phase 4: Content creation and optimization
Ideally, the content creation and optimization process begins at the same time as the technical revision. However, the technical adjustment must be prioritized first and then sustainable optimization of the content begins. Due to the search engine optimization, the first improvements in the ranking can already be seen here.
Phase 5: Link building
Once it has been determined whether a link strategy is necessary in order to build up new and topic-relevant links and possibly also to break down old links, it is a matter of continuously optimizing these off-page factors. Slowly you can expect a noticeable increase in rankings, traffic, and lead generation.
Now it is obvious that the SEO measures that have been worked out can be easily processed. However, this has not been the case for a long time, as the search engines often put a spanner in the works, and measures are suddenly prioritized in a completely different way. The search behavior of users is also changing and content has to meet completely different requirements. Therefore, the regular questioning of the measures, an examination of the success, and a certain flexibility to be able to cancel measures again are part of every successful SEO strategy.
How long does SEO take? Here is Google's answer
Google itself has officially commented on the question of how long it takes for the various SEO measures to actually work and how to hire a useful SEO consultant. Maile Ohye, Google's long-time SEO expert, says that in most cases, it takes four months to a year to implement initial improvements and see the resulting rankings.
A brief summary of the SEO duration
The answer to the question "How long does SEO take?" depends on many factors working together. With a bit of luck and skill, the first results will be visible after a few weeks. However, it usually takes at least 4-12 months to achieve measurable success. The SEO duration depends on your existing and planned SEO measures, how strong the rankings are in your industry and whether you yourself meet the search engine's ranking criteria.
As you can see, it is difficult to make a firm and generally valid statement about the SEO duration and the time until your first ranking success. Many factors play a role: how well or badly your site is optimized, how strong your competition is, how old your domain is and how intensively the website is maintained. On average, 6-12 months can be expected to measure noticeable traffic and ranking increases. You should see SEO as a continuous improvement process - whether adding new content, updating existing content, or launching new off-page link-building campaigns.
Above all, it is important to use intelligent SEO tactics and strategies to gain a long-term advantage over the competition and not always to focus on the keywords with the highest search volume. In order to get information about the SEO duration and its effects that are tailored to your website and your ranking goals, it is best to discuss the necessary measures with our SEO experts! Contact us for a personal free initial consultation!