No question gets asked more often about search engine optimization (SEO) than how long will it take to work. Much of the definition can depend on various factors, so it is not easy to say.
In most cases, people begin seeing SEO results within three to four months when discussing existing websites that already have some amount of authority. When you are talking about a new website, then it can take anywhere from six to 12 months before you begin seeing SEO results.
The truth is that there are no less than 20 other variables that can determine success in SEO efforts. It will be best to begin by noting that most SEO experts will agree that SEO is “working” when a website is growing and gaining visibility in search engines.
It is important to understand that there are no guarantees with SEO, so one website gaining traction after only a few months does not mean that another will only need the same amount of time. When asking how long SEO will take to work, we are usually talking more about how much time must pass for SEO activities and campaigns to begin bringing results that are satisfactory both for a client and an SEO specialist.
Every single SEO project will be different and have independent influences from different variables and factors. Here are some of the factors the influence how long SEO can take to work.
How Quickly will SEO
What a website has been involved with in the past can significantly impact its SEO future. A website developing large amounts of low-quality links or accepting guest posts not adding value for visitors will not have SEO advantages.
It will be worse if a website has a manual action or lost visibility after a Google core algorithm update. Google claims that there is no ill will after lifting a manual action and the website has made significant improvements, but a website still needs to go out of its way to really improve and recover.
Semrush is perhaps the single best all-in-one SEO tool for people to use and check the visibility of any website and how the website is doing in organic search results. It is easy for a person to go back in time and examine a website’s history using Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and Wayback Machine.
A bad domain history can negatively impact the SEO future of a website. Domain histories generally have negative impacts on websites in such cases as previous owners using domains as part of their Private Blog Network (PBN) penalized by Google, domains used to having adult content, domains used to containing pure spam or malicious content, domains that had pure spam manual actions, or multiple spammy links pointing to the domain.
It is also possible for a domain history to be a positive, such as when a domain used to host a very high-authority website or there are many high-quality links pointing to the domain.
The general rule is that the older and more authoritative a website is, the quicker and bigger its SEO effects will be. New websites are always at a disadvantage in this respect because they always require more time to see SEO effects.
When there are no other factors hindering a website and it is creating new high-quality content, the most popular scenarios are that a new website usually needs six to eight months to begin seeing its first SEO results and two to three years to get real traction. An existing website that is at least two to three years old can begin seeing the first SEO results after three to four months and an existing site with some authority and good content can really begin to take off after about a year of intensive SEO activities.
Previous SEO Activities
Prior SEO campaigns or lack thereof may also have a major impact on how quickly and how big SEO results will be for a website. When a website has never been optimized for SEO, it can be very quick improvements after basic SEO optimizations are performed.
When SEO activities so far have been more on the black hat side of things, such activities may negatively impact the future progress of the website. If a prior SEO specialist or firm had a high bar, then the new SEO campaign may be more challenging to get results.
You can never avoid the truth that content still matters in today’s internet. You are going to need to focus not only on the quantity of your content but the quality as well.
When a website only has a few basic info pages and no blog with articles or guides, it is starting from scratch. The website will need many new high-quality articles added over the course of at least six to 12 months, and two to three new articles per week.
If a website has hundreds of obsolete and low-quality content pages, it may need to prune some content before there can be any SEO effect. A website with 100 or more high-quality articles that help bring in organic traffic has a clear SEO advantage over a website with no blog section.
Just like content, current visibility in search engines also plays a role in determining how long SEO can take to work. Even when a website is a few years old and is clean in terms of spammy SEO techniques, it still needs more time to grow if it does not have any SEO visibility.
Websites with no SEO visibility are the same as brand-new websites yet to build authority with Google. In these cases, you can expect the SEO results to take six to 12 months.
Websites with limited visibility and relatively good rankings can make SEO progress much more quickly. Initial SEO results may be achieved within only two to three months.
There is no denying the importance of backlinks because they are such a major ranking factor for Google. Some websites have aggressively sought backlinks in ways that could damage their
If a website has absolutely no backlinks, then it must grow like a brand new website that has yet to build authority and trust. If a website has thousands of spammy backlinks, SEO growth could be hindered until there has been some cleaning up and removal of the links.
Websites with many high-quality authoritative links have clear SEO advantages. You can check your backlink profile using a tool like Semrush or Ahrefs.
Technical SEO is important because if a person does not perform technical SEO optimizations, their website cannot achieve its full potential. Technical optimizations help make websites accessible both to users and search engine robots.
A website may not be able to gain visibility when it has critical technical mistakes or a lack of technical SEO optimizations. In-depth technical SEO audits must be the first step of any new SEO project.
View an SEO audit checklist.
Website Speed & Performance
Speed will be a Google ranking factor that can also impact the SEO progress of a website. There are many facts you need to be aware of.
The speed and performance of a website influence the experience of its users. Google pays a lot of attention to its user experience and wants websites to provide the best user experience possible.
With a new Core Web Vitals update coming soon, it is safe to assume that speed and performance will be as important as ever. A website will almost certainly be negatively impacted if it is doing far worse in terms of speed and performance.
It will be bad when a website has a Google PageSpeed insight score of 12/100 and all of its competitors have scores of 90+. When a website has a score more along the lines of 80/100 score and competing websites have similar scores, then it can fully focus on another aspect of SEO.
Google Page Experience
Google page experience signals are a group of five metrics that are considered by Google when ranking websites. The signals currently include Core Web Vitals, mobile-friendliness, HTTPS, and intrusive interstitial guidelines.
How long SEO can take to work for a website will depend on whether a website complies with Google page experience signals. If a website does not meet page experience signals, then it may not be able to make any SEO progress until these issues have been resolved.
If you want to speed up the SEO results the site will get, make sure that it passes all of the Google page experience signals.
Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness is more commonly known as E-A-T and are the three components of a high-quality site as defined by Google in their Search Quality Evaluator Guideline. If a website has lots of E-A-T, it can start to see positive SEO gains within one to three months.
A website with no E-A-T will probably at first need to gain a bit of expertise, authority and trust before it can see huge SEO effects. This is a bit similar to the situation in which a brand new site is and six or more months will probably be necessary.
Hiring the right SEO consultant, SEO specialist, or SEO firm to do SEO work for the website can be one of the most important factors influencing how long SEO will take and how big its effects will be. A website will grow more quickly as long as its SEO specialist knows what they are doing, has enough experience (at least three to five years), is really passionate about SEO, has laid out a clear SEO plan and strategy, and is not a scam SEO artist whose only goal is to make quick money.
Again, SERP Matrix backs its SEO work with an SEO services guarantee. We guarantee to provide services as outlined in a client’s SEO agreement, and if we fail to complete services per the written agreement, then a portion of fees for which service was not performed will be refunded.
Know how much money you are going to be willing to spend to get SEO results and commit to spending it. You can achieve real SEO results whether you only want to spend a few hundred or several thousands of dollars.
Technical SEO Audit
A technical SEO audit of a website is incredibly important. It will have a purpose to examine the site in terms of SEO, its visibility in search engines, and its potential, detect any technical problems and issues that may hinder the site’s growth, recommend solutions and fixes, prioritize SEO tasks, and more.
Implementation of technical fixes
Technical SEO audits only work if the fixes recommended are implemented. People can conduct the best technical SEO site audits imaginable but will not have any SEO impact without implementation of the recommendations.
Quality And Quantity Of New Content
You are going to need to become a content creating machine to get SEO results. New content is still the best way to create real SEO traction.
Websites that publish a few new articles every day will have much bigger and quicker SEO effects than websites that publish only a few articles a month. The former can see SEO effects after two to three months while the latter could need several months.
It is always better to publish a few high-quality articles a month instead of creating many more lesser quality articles. Adding low-quality content does more harm than good.
Scope Of SEO Activities To Be Conducted
The length of time it takes for SEO to work will often depend on the nature of the SEO activities you are carrying out. Always be careful when hiring an SEO specialist or agency to do SEO for you and know exactly what types of activities an SEO contract will involve.
A website will not make much progress if its SEO strategy focuses only on link building. When an SEO strategy is diversified to include new content creation, link building, and technical optimizations, then it will probably be making quicker progress.
The niche a website falls into can also have an impact on how quickly or slowly it grows in terms of SEO. A more competitive niche can mean a longer SEO timeline.
When websites are in highly competitive niches such as finance or law, then it could require several months or years to see any results. This is especially true for new websites.
Compliance With Google SEO Guidelines
Sites that comply with Google SEO guidelines often have the best chances of achieving great SEO results and continually growing in the long term. That said, a website that does everything the white hat way may not grow as quickly as a website that has found an SEO “trick” that seems to be working miracles.
A website that is not involved in any manipulative SEO techniques can be making slower but steady progress. The effects of an SEO strategy that complies with Google guidelines will sooner or later snowball, while the awesome SEO results achieved as a result of some mischievous and spammy SEO techniques are always short-lived and may be totally wiped out any time.
Google Core Algorithm Updates
Google core algorithm updates will always have winners and losers, and nobody can control which group a website will be in following the next core update. Google remains pretty clear about what it values and is looking for in websites.
While you can control the scope of your SEO campaign, you cannot control how a core algorithm update will impact a website. Websites that suffer from Google core updates typically deserve it because they either overdid SEO optimizations or lost relevance.
Find SEO Help in Houston, TX | SERP Matrix
When you are seeking assistance with SEO in Houston or a surrounding area of Texas, you will want to get in touch with SERP Matrix. In addition to SEO, we also handle content writing, PPC advertising, and social media marketing.