Semalt Explains How Long SEO Takes Before Showing Results

After doing something new to your SEO strategy, feeling a bit anxious is normal. You may be wondering if it is going to influence your rankings positively or negatively, and you wouldn't be able to say until your SEO efforts begin to show results. 

There are three main factors that influence how long it takes before your website begins to feel the impact of SEO. These factors are:
  • Competition 
  • Inbound links 
  • Content
One of the most common questions we get is how long does SEO take? While this question is common, it is also one of the most frustrating questions to answer. We say that because clients will want a definitive answer like in 3-5 days' time, and it simply doesn't work that way with SEO. There is no way to know exactly how long SEO will take because of all the variables involved. 

While there are factors that must be considered when optimizing a site, it is important that we consider how these optimization variables have been used by your competition. All of these make a complicated answer more difficult to answer. The best we or any SEO professional can give you is a range that typically spans from four months to about a year. 

It is important to point out that there is no formula to arrive at an answer; however, picking a time frame is more than just guesswork. Figuring out how long your SEO will take starts with evaluating the data behind the three variables mentioned above, beginning the optimization process, and evaluating how soon results start to show. After this, we extrapolate using all the data gathered until this point to get an idea of how long it would take to get to a particular position on SERP. 

The influence of your completion in how long SEO takes

If you're selling a product like watermelon-flavored sardines, you're most likely not going to face any competition. However, if you sell products and services that are in high demand, you should be prepared to face varying degrees of competition. For example, a local pizza shop will face less competition than a brokerage company that services a large city. 

Why the competition matter is that it gives you more webpages to surpass as you climb the ranking ladder. The more webpages you compete against, the longer it will take for you to reach the top of SERPs. This will follow a consistent pattern where it is both faster and easier to outrank the first low-ranking pages. But as you progress, each subsequent page will require more time and effort to beat. That is because of the fact that top-ranking webpages usually have SEO professionals pulling strings and the volume of competitors. 

The correlation between the number of competitors within a niche and how good the SEO experts behind these top-ranking pages are one aspect of competition that is usually neglected. Its basic logic, the more the demand for a product, the more companies dive into that niche which causes an increase in competition. The competition forces these companies to either improve their services in order to take a larger share of the market and remain profitable. Such conditions are an opportunity for big companies with deep pockets. They get to hire the best SEO professionals in the industry, leaving little or no room for other companies to rank higher.
If this situation sounds like what you're facing right now, you have a long and tough road ahead. Not to worry, we will be there with you every step of the way. 

We need to evaluate all aspects of your competition's SEO and look beyond just where it stands today. This will mark our starting point. We will also be studying their activities over the previous several months and track their activities moving forward. Doing this is vital as it provides critical information on what they are doing, so we know how much more effort we need to put in order to outrank your competitors. 

The role of Inbound links in how long SEO takes

Links are one of the fundamental ranking factors for search engines, and Google, in particular, takes them seriously. They also have an influence on how long SEO takes for a website.

The first factor to consider is the volume of links to the website. Generally, more links will help you achieve better SEO success quickly, but the quality of links influences the impact of these links on your SEO. Fewer high-quality links from a relevant website with high authority have a greater influence on your result than many low-quality links gotten from irrelevant websites. 

Having high-quality links also puts you ahead of the competition because they are very difficult to gain. What this means is that your competition will find it more difficult to acquire or replicate these links. High-quality links usually last longer when compared with links that are generated using automated methods. 

You should know that the speed at which you earn links and the speed at which you have earned similar links in the past is also a factor worth considering. That is because an abrupt increase in the links you've acquired may appear unnatural to Google's algorithm, and it will penalize your website for attempting to manipulate ranking. 

When acquiring links, always ensure your method is acceptable according to Google's Webmaster Guidelines. If your link acquisition method doesn't meet Google's guidelines and there is a sudden increase in the number of inbound links, you will trigger a manual review of your site, which may lead to a penalty. 

So generally, acquiring high-quality links quickly is a smart way of increasing your ranks quickly. The link velocity should be relatively stable and appear natural. If you follow Google's guidelines, you have nothing to worry about. 

How contents influence how long SEO takes

Content can be categorized as the nucleus of SEO. Therefore, the content you publish on your site plays a vital role in how quickly you see results. When discussing the impact of content on SEO, we are referring to the quality of content. 

Several top-ranking sites on SERPs spend days polishing their content before they get published. Publishing Five or Ten 300 word articles every day isn't going to change much, except they are made with the finest materials. Do not misinterpret this and decide to write One 4,000 word article. A search engine such as Google doesn't pay much attention to the number of words but instead, the quality. According to Google, an article is perfect once it has properly covered all aspects of information a reader may expect to get. So a 20-word article may be perfect as long as it does justice to the topic. 

You may have heard that publishing new content slowly is one of the best ways to optimize content and it which comes from the ideology that publishing lots of content at the same time will appear unnatural to Google, which may hurt your ranking. It is understandable to believe, and we saw some logic to it; however, Google has debunked this myth. 

If you have several amazing pieces of content already, there is no reason from an SEO perspective not to publish as soon as possible. The sooner you have your content indexed, the sooner it can have a positive impact on your ranking. Choosing not to publish your content as soon as it is finalized only slows down your SEO. 

While age doesn't actively influence the ranking of a page, older pages often rank better than newer ones. On this note, we recommend you create and maintain a constant publishing schedule rather than publishing in bulks unnaturally. We say this for two reasons:
  • It encourages readers to revisit your site more frequently, which sends a positive user experience signal to Google, which improves your ranking speed.
  • It tells Google to crawl your site more frequently as new content is being uploaded on a regular basis. This will speed up your SEO efforts.
Deleting content is another factor that can positively impact how long your SEO takes. The key here is to figure out which contents serve as propellers and which contents are anchors. By deleting content that brings you down, your SEO can take effect quicker. 

Ultimately, your goal should be to create contents that continually improves, content that is original and useful to its readers. 


Setting a time frame on how soon your SEO will take effect is just an educated guess. Our job as SEO experts begins to look a lot like that of meteorologists in this area. Despite our vast knowledge, tools, and experience, we aren't always 100% correct. And just like how you feel when you expect a sunny beach day, but it turns out to be one of the most frustrating downpours ever, you just have to understand that we can't control everything with SEO, and sometimes, we make mistakes in reading these signals. 

Part of our job as professionals is to manage our client's expectations, and while many fail at this, we perform exceptionally well. 

Interested in SEO? Check out our other articles on the Semalt blog.

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