How long does SEO take to work?

how long does seo take

SEO takes time and isn’t a one-off, set and forget thing!

Improving the search engine ranking of a website is always a matter of urgency. Every minute lost is potential lost traffic and potential lost revenue. As a result, business owners and colleagues are always impatient to see quick results where they see their website soar up the rankings like a hare past a tortoise! Promises are made by eager SEO specialists and results are expected; quickly. But how long does SEO take to work?

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Unfortunately, changes to your website SEO don’t show immediate increases in rank. Search engine algorithms take a much longer view and it is impossible to put any ranking increase down to a single change, unless you are prepared to make very slow, very deliberate changes – one at a time. Though this would allow particular changes to be measured in page ranking, assuming your rivals change nothing during your test. But this would not be an appropriate strategy due to how slow it would be and the reality of ever-changing competitors and search engines.

This creates difficult situation for new SEO specialist brought in to rescue or improve a website’s ranking. Business owners need to have trust in the strategy and be prepared to wait to see incremental improvements in rankings and website visits. Particularly the effects of link building, which grows over time and often do not have any significant improvements for around many weeks. This is for a number of reasons. Firstly, the way Google ranks pages is by ‘crawling’ the page, searching for changes to copy, new links or new content. Pages are not crawled instantly, nor are they crawled regularly. It is a matter of waiting until a page is analysed by the search engines and the effect of any changes flows through to other websites it links to.

Can you increase the Speed of SEO?

SEO improvements have more dramatic results for new, poorly performing sites. The better the SEO base, the less improvement will be seen by continuing SEO efforts. A lick of paint on an old house will make a more striking improvement than a lick of paint on a modern mansion. However, it is important to keep an SEO strategy going – even on the best of websites. To stop and allow a page to stagnate, means a gradual but inevitable slide down the rankings.

Something else to consider is whether “fast SEO” is a good idea at all. If you’ve had a website for 3 years and then Google suddenly see you have an extra 10,000 links pointing to your 3 page website, don’t you think that would look a little suspicious? It is dangerous to push the speed of SEO improvements too fast. I personally did this many years ago when I started SEO work on my own website and found myself with a ranking penalty that took more than 6 months to overcome.

Patience pays off in the long run. Beware of SEO’s offering guarantees and fast or immediate results. What has to be done to make fast results happen is often not in the best interests of your website or your business. Long after you’ve paid the SEO, your website could be damaged by what they did and suffer for months or even years if you don’t realise what has happened.

If SEO was immediate, the whole profession would be different. It would be far more transparent and far more accessible to beginners and experts alike. Immediate results would allow for strategies to be tested and trialled, changed and manipulated; a dream for SEO professionals. However, in this case, all strategies would be identical and there would be page ranking carnage at the top!

How to monitor an SEO strategy

If you are starting out with SEO, or with an SEO specialist, it is important that the strategy used is not going to cause any long term issues. If your questions get any comments about submitting your website to hundreds or thousands of search engines or directories, run. While your SEO may not want to give you a detailed breakdown of what they do (it’s their intellectual property), a basic understanding of what they do and how they do it and why they do it is a reasonable expectation.

The frustrating thing for both the customer and the SEO consultant is that results cannot be predicted. An SEO specialist selling page rank results in a certain time frame may well be able to deliver just that. But those type of promises should be taken with a little scepticism. Why is the page rank being promised? Is that result actually required or useful? How does the consultant know that the results they are aiming for will show an increase in engagement and revenue?

Get an SEO Audit!

We offer monthly reporting for all our SEO clients and where possible establish goals that can be tracked to determine if our strategy is working. Generally, we expect to be working on a clients’ SEO for at least 6 months to get the best results. As internet marketing becomes more mainstream, it is harder to get results quickly and time is essential. If you’re interested in finding out how SEO can help your website results improve, please get in touch!

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