how long does seo take

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the foundation of a successful online marketing campaign, but it’s a process that takes time. Just as it takes time to build up an accounting practice and develop a positive reputation in the community, it takes time to build up an online presence and credibility.

But exactly how long does it take? Why does SEO take so long? 

Good SEO Takes Time. But How Long?

It’s no secret that proper SEO takes time, but how much time? That’s a question that’s difficult to answer without knowing more about:

  • Your website
  • The keywords you’re targeting
  • How much content is on your site

For some sites, high rankings can be achieved in just a few months. For other sites, results can take a year or more. 

According to Google, SEOs need 4-12 months to start seeing the benefits of search engine optimization. While Google made that statement in 2017, not much has changed since them. Semrush, a leading SEO tool, says it takes 6-12 months to start seeing results from SEO.

If you’re going to engage in SEO, and you should be, then you need to be in it for the long-haul.

SEO Can Achieve Long Lasting Results

If SEO takes so long, why bother?

For starters, search engines are where your customers are. A report from Visual Objects found that 76% of consumers check out a business’s online presence before they step foot in their building. Search is where the buyer’s journey begins.

And if they cannot find your business in the search results, they will visit your competitors instead.

Beyond that, SEO helps build and grow your online presence. The efforts are paid back and then some if you can achieve your goals. Why? Because if your site can achieve high rankings – and maintain them – you will continue to get targeted traffic to your website organically.  

Let’s say that you’re a CPA in New York and you want to start working on SEO for your website. According to Ahrefs, the website that ranks #1 for the phrase “CPA New York” receives about 2,100 visitors from all of the keywords it ranks for. That particular site that ranks #1 for “CPA New York” ranks for a total of 1,000 organic keywords and has zero paid keywords. In other words, much of their traffic is likely coming from just search engines.

Pages rarely rank for just a single keyword, so the time and effort put in to SEO pays off when your site ranks for multiple search terms and you receive steady streams of traffic from those rankings. 

Traffic = targeted leads that can easily turn into clients for your firm.

Why Does SEO Take So Long?

You know how long SEO can take and why it’s worth the effort. But why does it take so long to achieve those results?

  • SEO is a complex and ongoing process with many moving parts.
  • Search engine algorithms are sophisticated.

Gone are the days when a website could stuff its web pages with keywords and rank high in the search results – and that’s a good thing! But it also means that search engine algorithms have gotten more complex and look for more things when analyzing a website in order to determine where it should rank in the results. 

Google, for example, uses several algorithms to rank websites, including:

  • Neural Matching, which uses AI to better connect words and concepts.
  • BERT algorithm, which helps Google better understand what people are searching for.
  • Natural Language Processing, which looks at more than just keywords and considers sentences, paragraphs and the sentiment of the searcher.
  • AI spam fighting, which also uses AI to detect and eliminate spam from the search results.

With so many factors in play, SEO has become complicated. It takes more time and effort to develop and execute a good SEO strategy, and it also takes more time for search engines to recognize and trust your website enough to increase its rankings.

The Components of a Good SEO Strategy

A good SEO strategy will have many components, including but not limited to:

  • Website Audit: Analyzes the pages on your website to find ways to improve speed, readability, mobile-friendliness and more.
  • Keyword Research: Looks for search terms that your target audience is looking for.
  • Competitive Analysis: Takes a look what your competitors are doing to see what’s working, what’s not working and how you can do things better.
  • Content Strategy: This includes blogs, guest posts, videos, graphics, press releases and more.
  • Content Creation and Distribution: The content you create needs to be distributed via your website, other websites, social media and more.
  • Link Building: Great content attracts links, and outreach can also help you acquire links through guest posting or other meaningful contributions.

The goal of SEO is to develop a website that positions your business as an authority in the field. That is achieved by creating valuable, relevant content for your website and other outside sources, such as social media accounts and other credible websites.

The Importance of Natural Link Building

Link building plays an important role in SEO because links from reputable websites give your website credit in the eyes of Google. Think of it as a referral of sorts. When you have multiple credible websites linking to yours, then you must be a good source of information for that topic.

But link building has to look natural, and natural links take time to build. If you build a website today and suddenly have 200 links pointing to your site tomorrow, search engines may see that as fishy – because it is.

Links should be acquired steadily over time, and that, of course, takes time.

SEO is All About the Long Game

SEO is a slow process, but it’s one that pays off. For businesses that need to generate leads in the short-term, SEO can be combined with strategies like online advertising and PPC, which can bring traffic to your website immediately.

SEO is complicated. We can help. 

Book a free consultation today to get started.

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