To be competitive in the online market, your website must rise to the top of the Google search engine results page (SERP). And the only way to do that is with a solid, ongoing SEO strategy.
This may sound like an eCommerce 101 question, but how long does SEO take?
What we’re really asking here is “How long will it take to see a trending uptick in impressions, click-through rates (CTRs), and conversions from SEO efforts?”
Read on as the experts at Exclusive Concepts break down what’s involved in evaluating a website’s SEO needs, developing an effective SEO strategy, and implementing those tactics. We then discuss what some reasonable expectations are for how long SEO takes to start paying off, as well as what many clients experience while they’re waiting.
Let’s dive in.
How Long Does SEO Take to Produce Results?
Business owners understandably want to know how fast they’ll get results from a new SEO strategy. The bottom line, however, is that there is no guaranteed timeframe. Like all things eCommerce-related, the most accurate answer is “it depends.”
What, exactly, do those results depend upon? There are several things, including:
- How well or quickly the implementation of our recommendations goes
- How fresh the content on your website is (that impacts the “freshness” algorithm on Google)
- How technically sound your website is (that directly affects crawling and indexing)
SEO is not a one-size-fits-all proposition, nor are SEO results guaranteed in a one-for-one production scale. Much like an exercise regimen will make some participants world-class athletes while others will simply get slightly lower cholesterol numbers, SEO is complicated and unique to the website in question.
A Variety of Factors Dictate How Long SEO Takes
Google’s algorithm is nuanced and complicated — and Google is constantly revising it to process more website elements for reliability and authority. That means that any approach to cracking the algorithm must also be complex and targeted.
The first stage of any SEO plan is all about analysis. Like an auto mechanic, we need to look under the hood and run through a few diagnostics before we start recommending any maintenance solutions.
There are a lot of factors that will dictate how long your SEO will take. These questions can help narrow down the timeframe that fits your situation:
- How big is your website overall? Are we optimizing 100 pages or 100,000?
- Has the website already been optimized already? If so, further optimization may see diminishing returns.
- How high is the site’s domain authority? This will impact the timeframe, no matter how aggressive the SEO strategy.
- Is search demand for your product or service related to specific seasons, like end-of-year holidays or summer vacations?
- How competitive is the industry landscape your business is entering?
- What’s the extent of technical issues on your website? How quickly can they be addressed?
- What’s your overall SEO budget? A limited budget can mean fewer options in terms of strategic implementation.
- What type of SEO tactics are you willing or able to implement? For example, link building can move the needle quickly, but it comes with higher costs and risks.
- Is your website brand new or has it been around for more than a year?
In the most general sense, most SEO strategies yield at least the first signs of a performance trend in the 3-6 months. But — and this is a big but — that depends on your goals for optimization and how quickly your team can implement the recommended changes, among other things.
The Sandbox Effect: New Websites and SEO
Launching a brand-new website is exciting. It’s important to temper expectations for that fledgling website, though, because SEO often takes longer to manifest results when a website has no history. The most realistic expectation for a new website’s SEO to payoff is longer than it is for a veteran website.
Why? Think of it like this: When you’ve got a newbie on your sales team, you don’t give them your biggest client on their first day. They might shadow a more seasoned salesman or assist on a couple of pitches before soloing. In short, they’ve got to demonstrate skill before you can trust them to deliver on their own.
Google works similarly. The search engine giant wants users to know they’re getting the most authoritative and reliable content at the top of their searches. So, it’s understandable that a website with little to no history, tentative content, and few if any backlinks has difficulty gaining traction on the SERP in its first few months.
John Mueller, Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst for Google, advises that it can take up to a year for Google to figure out where to rank new websites. He adds that “significant fluctuations” in search rankings are to be expected within that period.
Other channels, like paid and social, can also impact performance, depending on your strategy. This underscores the need for patience and diligence in your SEO strategy, especially if your website is new.
Sample Findings: How Long Does SEO Take in Real Life?
To get a sense of SEO timeframes, let’s look at three real-life examples of implementation and results.
- Example 1: Initiating an FAQ Schema on ExclusiveConcepts.com
- Time: The markup began getting impressions one day after implementation. However, an FAQ schema doesn’t necessarily lead to more clicks. There was no improvement in traffic from this limited SEO strategy.
- Example 2: Creating a new page for “Online Cooking Classes” for a kitchen supplies client (note that the website had high domain authority (65) and the term had relatively high keyword difficulty)
- Time: First impressions for the page came the day it was created. First significant impressions (>100) for the keyword “online cooking classes” arrived 113 days (3.7 months) later. The site achieved a consistent page-one ranking for the keyword 134 days (4.4 months) after the new page was created.
- Example 3: Implementing broad optimization strategies on all website pages (except the homepage) for a clothing retailer
- Time: A noticeable improvement in impressions and total clicks was evident in the first three months of the campaign, but CTRs and average rank positions stagnated. Around the five-month mark, the website began gaining real traction in the SERP, with organic keywords yielding a 27% increase in ranking on multiple pages.
The Takeaway: Be methodical and patient, it will pay off.
The bottom line: most clients see SEO results within 4-6 months. Impressions and sessions often improve faster when new content is initially implemented and crawled. Although other metrics may show wins sooner, revenue is typically a six-month growth opportunity from a sound SEO strategy. In short, SEO adjustments take time but they’re likely worth monitoring and making changes as needed. It’s an ongoing process but an essential one.
Next Steps: Get more information about EXCLUSIVE’s SEO services and contact us for your free eCommerce analysis so we can provide a holistic solution that creates SEO gains (and more) for your business.