It takes a minimum of three months for you to start noticing results from search engine optimization (SEO) initiatives. And, that’s only when you’ll start to see your numbers change. For a realistic analysis, 6-12 months is a better timeframe, depending on the project.
While it may seem like a long time to wait to find out if an SEO project has been successful, there are a host of reasons behind it that I’ll touch on below.
Why does SEO take so long to show results?
To understand why SEO takes so long to prove its worth, you need to know a few basic things about the technical side of SEO.
Whenever you create a new page or add new content to an existing page, search engines have to crawl, index, and begin to serve that content to users.
Once that content begins to show in search results, it will need to start working its way up to the first page. This happens through relevant search queries by users, backlinks, clickthroughs, and more.
Results are also affected by things like:
- How long your site has been around
- Whether the content is being added to an existing or new URL
- How well you already rank for a related topic or keyword
- Whether your content is high-quality or not
- How strong your competitors’ content is
- Your business’s seasonality
Want to know more? Ahrefs conducted a study of what it takes to rank in Google SERPs.
When you consider all the things that can affect your rank, it may make you wonder whether SEO is worth it.
Ultimately, it depends on your business and marketing goals, but since SEO doesn’t have any costs outside of general overhead, it can be well worth the wait.
For example, I’ve been part of projects that increased organic conversions by over 250% after about six months. Although it took time, the ROI was undeniably worth it.
When will I start to see SEO results?
Even though your content may take a while to start showing you its full potential, you should begin to see results come in before the 6-12-month mark. Depending on the factors mentioned above, you could start seeing results within 30 days.
Once your content does start to show in search, it should just keep growing from there. However, if you don’t maintain your content or update your website with fresh content, your results will plateau and eventually begin to drop.
How can I track SEO results?
Just because it may take a few months to really get a feel for how your content is going to stack up SEO-wise doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be keeping an eye on it.
You can track your website’s SEO performance using all kinds of different methods, but my favorite tools are the basics:
If you don’t have them set up for your website, you’re missing out on valuable information that you can use to fuel and shift your overall SEO strategy.
SEO results and you
SEO requires time, effort, and patience. You can’t just publish a blog post and then expect your sales to go up by 1000%. (But you can maximize results by repurposing your SEO content for emails, infographics, and more!).
Before you start publishing content and hoping for the best, build a solid strategy that focuses on targeted keywords, topic, user, and competitor research, and Google best practices.