A very common question from our clients is - "how long does SEO take to start working?" We wish there was a simple one size fits all answer, but unfortunately, there isn't.
So, to help you understand the realities with search engine optimisation, we will walk you through the variables that may affect SEO, as well as a likely timeline to start seeing results.
What Results Are You Looking For?
Depending on the results you are looking for, SEO could start working immediately.
That isn't a typo.
If you are looking for:
- improved site structure,
- increased site authority,
- fewer meta issues, and
- fresh content...
... then the good news is that the results you'd get from implementing an SEO strategy will usually occur within the first month.
To give you an example, our first-month checklist includes:
- identifying content clusters to improve site structure and build additional content,
- auditing metadata to identify and implement quick-win optimisations, and
- identify backlink opportunities.
The above means that some results will start becoming visible within the first month.
However, most business owners don't come to us looking for site improvements, they are looking for...
How Long Until We Get Leads From SEO?
This is the real question most business owners need to ask when it comes to SEO.
More clients from organic traffic = more growth for your business.
To get leads from SEO, there are more factors at play that can affect the timeline that it takes to get results from SEO. These include:
- how much traffic you are getting when you start SEO,
- how old your domain is,
- how well your website is designed for conversions,
- the competition from other industry participants,
- where your business is located,
- who your ideal target market is,
- whether you have any existing penalties from Google or other search engines, and
- whether you have already addressed some technical factors (e.g. sitemaps & meta descriptions).
So, depending on all the above factors, we generally see SEO results between 3 to 6 months. In fact, we consistently see a jump in traffic and rankings around the 3-month mark... consistent enough that we call it the magical 3-month mark.
This increased traffic doesn't always equal more leads and conversions just yet, but it does increase the amount of data that we have available to assess how traffic is interacting with your site.
If we are seeing increased traffic but low conversions, then we will often recommend that conversion rate optimisation (CRO) be added to the SEO campaign. This involves monitoring how visitors are using your site (for example, through heat-maps) and making ongoing changes to improve your conversion rate.
The outcome that we like to see for our clients is more revenue.
CRO can help increase conversions from your traffic meaning that you get more leads. As long as your sales process is solid, these increased conversions will result in more revenue.
Typical SEO Project Timeline
Depending on who you work with to improve your SEO, this timeline may look different. However, this is a high-level overview of our process:
Month 1: SEO R&D
In the first month of an SEO campaign, we get started with some SEO Research & Development):
- Website audit
- Keyword research & strategy design
- Link-building opportunity assessment
Once the website audit is complete, we immediately start implementing on-page SEO optimisations.
Month 2: SEO Foundations
In the second month of the SEO campaign, we continue with the on-page optimisations and start laying the foundations for increased traffic:
- fix duplicate content issues
- fix meta descriptions, title tag issues, sitemap,
- identify low word count pages
- content strategy considerations
Month 3: Content Optimisation
While continuing to lay the foundations, we start to optimise the content on the site. This is usually through identifying topics to produce content about. It also includes assessing existing content for improvement or repurposing.
We are also full-steam ahead building links to improve off-page SEO.
Month 4 & 5: Follow The Process
An SEO campaign can be tedious and time-consuming, so month four is usually about embedding the process and building momentum.
Following the process now will see results compound over time as any work that is done month 4 will continue to reap the rewards 12, 24, or 36 months into the future.
Month 6: Conversion Assessment
At month 6 we should have seen some improvements in traffic, so we need to ask the all important question.
Is the increased traffic resulting in increased revenue?
If not, we need to look at conversions and quality of traffic. If the site is attracting our target market, but they are not converting, we may consider adding conversion rate optimisation at this point.
The Unbreakable Rules Of SEO
The benefits of SEO to your business are undeniable. Despite this, we see inevitable mistakes being repeated time and time again, sometimes by our clients and other times by associates that we know are working to improve their SEO.
The unbreakable rules of SEO is a framework to follow to make sure that your SEO campaign is a success.
#1 SEO Efforts Compound Over Time
SEO activities that you do now will continue to pay off long into the future. The idea is to consistently build upon these so that your results compound over time.
#2 Do Not Stop Early
SEO can be a test of patience. A common mistake is to stop the campaign too early. Commit yourself to at least 12-months for your SEO efforts.
#3 Budget Accordingly
Most businesses have a budget for their expenses - office rent, payroll etc. Make your SEO campaign a budget item so that you do not feel the financial pressure of paying for SEO before you start seeing results.
#4 SEO Is An Investment
Just like any other investment, SEO should provide you with a return on investment (ROI). Keeping the previous rules in mind, understand that you are investing in SEO to generate a financial return in the future.
#5 Don't Obsess Over Vanity Metrics
Traffic and rankings are good to be aware of, but the real metrics that you should be obsessing over is leads and revenue. Track rankings and traffic, but make sure that you are capturing data about leads and revenue.
We will add to these rules over time so be sure to check back often.
How Long Does SEO Take To Start Working?
If you've skipped to the end, I wanted to provide you with a real quick summary.
Generally, SEO takes between 3 to 6 months to start to see results.
Although, improvements to site structure, metadata, and content can be seen relatively quickly.