Exploring The Age-Old Question: How Long Does SEO Take?

Hour Glass

By Danny, 4 months ago (4 min read)

For many outside the industry, SEO is a simple journey from point A to point B – point A is a new or unoptimised website and the destination, point B, is a position 1 ranking for that site in SERPs. Simple, right? Well, not exactly! 

A results-driven SEO strategy requires consistency, with the continual optimisation of a website being the only proven way to obtain and then maintain ranking positioning. Therefore, there’s really no solid answer to the age-old question, ‘how long does SEO take?’. 

However, we know this would be a pretty disappointing blog post if we just ended it there, so instead, allow us to delve deeper into why there’s no objective answer to this common query, looking closer at the primary factors that dictate the realistic timescale you should expect before seeing results. 


Factor 1 – The age of your website 

The age of your website plays a fundamental role in how long your SEO campaign is going to take before driving any significant results. While one of the reasons for this is that Google takes into consideration your site’s domain age as a ranking factor, there are a number of associated reasons correlating to the age of your site that perhaps play a more pinnacle role. These include:


The number (and quality) of backlinks 

As one of Google’s primary ranking factors, link building is the bread and butter of any informed SEO strategy. This is because Google considers a link from any high-authority, relevant domain as a vote of confidence in your site, as long as that link is contextualised naturally within its content. The more high-authority backlinks your site receives, the more trustworthy and authoritative your site is deemed, helping you move up the SERP rankings as a result. 

With this in mind, it’s likely that a pre-existing site has already received an array of backlinks from different sites – theoretically speaking, this should put that site further ahead on the SEO journey than one that’s just starting out. Providing these backlinks come from sites with strong domain authorities (DA), a pre-existing site’s link profile will naturally still be stronger than a brand new site, meaning it will typically take less time to start seeing results from your link building efforts. 


The quality of pre-existing content 

Another fundamental ranking factor is the quality and optimisation of your site’s content. Content should always look to be engaging, authoritative and trustworthy, improving the user experience on your site by adding genuine value to the user. This should be paired with solid keyword optimisation across your onsite content, metadata and blog posts, featuring an array of naturally integrated, relevant keywords you wish to rank for. 

Of course, a new site requires new content (which can be a lengthy process to create in itself), so if a pre-existing site already boasts high-quality content that perhaps just requires some small tweaks or better-informed keyword optimisation, you’re likely to see SERP ranking results a lot sooner.

Factor 2 – Market saturation 

In all aspects of business, your industry and competitors have a lot of influence on your realistic goals and expectations. When it comes to SEO, this is no different – the more competitive your market, the harder it’s going to be to obtain that desired ranking. 

While the aforementioned link building and content optimisation strategies will go far in helping you bypass low ranking competitors over time, the fact of the matter is that if you’re operating in a saturated market, you’re eventually going to come up against the industry leaders. 

Of course, these big guns will also have a strong and consistent SEO strategy in place, meaning as you move further towards your goal, so will your competitors. This isn’t to say that, with the right SEO campaign in place, you can’t outrank better known competitors for high-volume keywords – what it does mean, however, is that this process is going to naturally take a lot of time and effort.  


Factor 3 – Your goals 

Of course, your goal might not always be to rank at position 1 for the highest searched keyword within your industry. With this in mind, your SEO goals naturally have a fundamental role in establishing a realistic timescale – if you simply wish to rank on page 1 as opposed to at position 1, this is obviously going to take less time to achieve.

Another consideration is the types of keywords you wish to rank for. Perhaps you’re a local independent retailer, for example, who would benefit more from ranking highly for a range of local keywords than you would ranking adequately for more general keywords against nationwide competitors. Of course, this goal is a lot more attainable due to local keywords typically having smaller search volumes and, in turn, less competition surrounding them – meaning it’ll take less time to achieve your objective. 

As frustrating as it may be, SEO is a long game. No two sites start from the same place, meaning a plausible timescale for proven results isn’t objective. Whatever your point A and point B may be, be sure to give your SEO strategy the time it deserves. If you’re doing it right, you’ll eventually reap the rewards – and it’ll be that much sweeter when you do.

To learn more about how we can help with your business’s SEO strategy, get in touch with Land Digital today!