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how long does seo take

How long does SEO take to work?

As a website builder and SEO consultant there is a question that comes up fairly frequently when speaking to clients, so I will try to answer it in this article. The question is, how long does SEO take to work?

In short, the average amount of time it takes to see real results in a correctly executed SEO campaign is 4-6 months, and this is just an average! Sometimes it takes much longer if the competition is high, and it can be far quicker for low competition keyword phrases.

How long SEO takes has changed!

In recent years SEO campaign has got far harder to judge. In the beginning competition for many keyword phrases was low. With fewer competitors you could rank pretty easily. But the web is a far bigger place now. It no longer works to just identify 2 and 3 word phrases for many industries. Those have been done and competition is usually so high you will be lucky to get in the top 50.

For many businesses long tail keyword phrases need to be targeted to drive traffic to your website. The bottom line is that if you’re focusing on a small group of generic keywords, you’re probably not being found by most of the people who are searching for you.

SEO today is driven by people doing searches that are more like normal questions, with 5 or 6 words, rather than two or three keywords. People have learnt how to use the internet and that if they type more information into the search bar the quality of pages returned is usually more focused on what they are looking for. These keywords are much easier to rank for, because they’re not as competitive. Not only does the searcher get better results, you get better traffic as the it is more likely that the searcher has found exactly what they are looking for and it’s not false traffic.

Therefore the objective, when it comes to rankings, is not to rank for a few top keywords that remain the same over time, but to focus on a much larger number of natural language searches that is growing and changing rapidly.

Do website rankings matter?

Yes. But not as much as you think they do. When optimising a site the overall aim is not just to get more traffic, but to get relevant traffic. It’s no good getting 100 hits for your site, if none of them convert to sales. Getting 10 hits which result in some sales due to getting the correct customer to your site should be the main focus of your SEO campaign, and that’s what I tell my customers when they ask, how long will SEO take to work on my website?

The real question is, how long will SEO take to generate more leads and sales on my website?

So when will I see SEO results?

Now we can answer the question a little better. How long will SEO takes to work depends on factors such as:

  • how long your domain name has been registered,
  • how long your completed website has been available on the internet,
  • how much SEO has been done on it previously and if any damaging SEO has been implemented,
  • how much content is on it, and much more!

Each site is different, each starts in a different place due to these types of factors.

This SEO timeline might help explain how long an SEO campaign takes to start showing results:

  • Stage 1 : Research and discovery phase can last more than one month depending on complexity of the site and competition in the industry. Sometimes this phase is far quicker.
  • Stage 2 : In some cases the website needs to be overhauled, and this of itself can take months. For example it might mean changing the whole structure of the website if key elements such as content are not featured high on the page and thus losing SEO weight.
  • Stage 3 : Content building takes time too, we could add 10 posts a day, but google and other search engines don’t like to see this, posts should be released at a sensible rate perhaps 1 or 2 a week so your site does not get marked up as spamming! This can be frustrating for clients, even though SEO is being done, it’s unlikely you will see any results yet, the ground is being laid to get better rankings with technical and content changes.
  • Stage 4 : Continued content creation and technical optimization and link building (which may include cleaning up low quality links). At this stage you may see increases in traffic but this could be 6 months after the beginning of the campaign. It won’t be anywhere close to the improvements you should 12 months into your SEO efforts.
  • Stage 5 : Social media management should be considered now to drive traffic and customers through online marketing and advertising. Perhaps even some very targeted paid adverts on Facebook may be suitable to get more likes and sales.
  • Stage 6 : From this point on, your activities may be consistently focused on content creation and promoting that content, or you may be doing things that are more creative.  This could be 12 months down the line, but you should be seeing some results. SEO is ongoing and if you stop your SEO at this point it’s likely you may begin to lose rank.

How long does SEO take to work? At minimum it takes 4 to 6 months to start seeing results.

Ultimately SEO takes time and money. Quitting after 2 to 3 months is a waste of money, if you think you should have seen results but aren’t at 3 months then stopping then will just mean you have wasted those fees for 3 months work.

If you don’t have a good budget then don’t even start with an SEO campaign, put your money in targeted adverts instead. SEO is a long-term marketing tactic, and shouldn’t be seen as a way to generate sales quickly. Get it right and manage your expectations and the ROI is far better than paid adverts or many other marketing campaigns. So How long does SEO take to work? At least 12 months with a healthy budget and lots of patience!

how long does seo take to work?

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