We get this question all the time: how long does it take for SEO to start working? And yea, it’s a fair question to ask, since just about everyone wants to know how long it’s going to be before they reap a return on any investment.
However, the question itself may be somewhat misinformed. See, SEO isn’t a static product, it’s an ongoing service. Occasionally you’ll even see its own job position, a “search engine optimizer” who will spend their entire time managing an ongoing SEO strategy.
Whether hired out as a service or hired internally as a role, your website doesn’t start appearing higher in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) because we added “SEO” to it. It ranks higher because we consistently and methodically add and optimize content each month, even as the rules of the game change.
So with that quick misconception cleared up, let’s take a look at how long it takes for a premier web development firm to get you results.
Without baseline data, it’s impossible to track growth accurately. So to get started, it’s important to implement Google Search Console and Google Analytics as well as SEO software that can track specific keywords.
Using Search Console, we’ll be able to assess your “property health,” submit a site map, set a crawl rate, find broken links, and get Google search performance data. When analyzing your search analytics, we’ll be able to see the search terms for which you’ve received clicks and impression, your position for those specific search terms, and your click through rate (CTR).
If numbers, charts, and graphs aren’t your thing, then Google Analytics would probably drive you mad. However, it’s important that web developers use this tool to collect information on unique visitor conversions, sources of incoming traffic, bounce rate, and average site duration, along with a whole suite of other metrics.
To get a pulse on how well your website is performing, a good baseline is to gather about 30 days’ worth of data.
SEO Audit Duration: 1 Month
Technical SEO for Keywords
Sure, keyword strategy has changed significantly over the past 15 years, but keywords are still critical. Any headline you see touting “keyword optimization is dead” is way off base.
While you don’t want to stuff your pages with keywords until they’re babbling redundancies, it’s important that you optimize your content for the keywords that you think will attract the right audience. That’s not just theory, MOZ researchers have found that “page-level keyword & content-based metrics” were ranked as the third most influential optimization factor.
To use keywords effectively, web developers need to be sure they’re included in four main areas:
- Browser/SEO titles
- First paragraph of body text
- Header 1 text
- Meta descriptions
Although there’s no hard limit on how long or short these elements can be, savvy digital marketers know that you need to pack a punch with relatively few characters. Whether a firm is giving your site a facelift or they’re doing a full rebuild, they’ll most likely comb through each page to ensure optimal character counts in each of the following areas:
- Browser/SEO title ≈ 50-60 characters
- First paragraph of body text ≈ two to three sentences (for mobile optimization)
- Header 1 text ≈ 50 – 70 characters
- Meta description ≈ 100 – 300 characters
Depending on the size of your website this could take quite a few hours; however, it’s not just work hours you have to consider. You also have to assess how those changes performed. You may see an improvement for some pages in as little as seven days, however it’s better to gauge the success of SEO revisions over the course of a month or more.
Technical SEO for Keywords: 1 month
Content creation is the wild card. The faster you want to improve your search authority, the more content you’re going to have to produce. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to hit a certain word count on each blog or even post at a certain frequency.
What it does mean is that you have to know your industry and what your clients are asking about. If you’re in an industry where people ask a lot of questions, and your competitors are answering more frequently, precisely, and comprehensively, then you’ve got some work ahead of you.
Take the subject of SEO for instance. On MOZ’s difficulty scale, the keyword “SEO” is 70/100. If you’re curious what this means:
- 20-35 low competition
- 36-50 medium competition
- 51-65 “pretty tough” competition
- 66-80 very difficult
Because of a weighted average, there are very few keywords between 0-20 and 81-100. That being said, “SEO” is an extremely difficult keyword to rank for. In order to do so, you need to produce amazing content and use “long tail keywords.”
Long tail keywords are very specific three to four word phrases. Oftentimes long tail keywords answer a particular question like, “How long does it take for SEO to start working?”
However, crafting this high-quality content not only takes time to create, it takes time to gain traffic and engagement. While there is very little evidence that the age of a domain affects SEO, there is ample evidence that visits, time on site, bounce rate, and number of page views do.
Case in point, SimilarWeb achieved the number one spot for “website ranking” and “app ranking” within 3 months by improving their bounce rate by 42%, increasing page sessions by 34%, and increasing the average session duration by 65%. But how did they do it?
SimilarWeb de-indexed irrelevant content and focused on what was generating high-quality clicks. Now, this is a pretty extreme example as SimilarWeb literally has millions of web pages across the web. Even so, for a business stuck in the thicket on the sixth page of Google, it’s not unheard of to bump up three to five spaces a month with consistent, high-quality blogging.
Content Creation: Six to 12 months
…And the Answer Is
For SEO that gives you long-term value, you’re looking at an eight to 14 month commitment. So is it worth it to get your site on Google’s first page of results?
Yea, probably. Research from online advertising network Chitika found that page one results received 91.7% of search traffic, leaving only a meager 8.3% for page two and beyond. Those aren’t great odds if you’re trying to drum up business.
If you’d like to receive an estimate about improving your companies SEO within your own industry, reach out to us by clicking here and contacting us today.