How Long Does it Take for SEO to Start Working?
March 20, 2015 Updated : July 4, 2017
If you run a business or just a website and you’ve just paid for your first month or SEO, you might now be left with a few questions. Questions like: what are they actually doing? Is that the right thing to do? And probably: how long is it all going to take?
The problem is that SEO is pretty… abstract. SEO for small business isn’t one job but rather lots of smaller tasks. It doesn’t necessarily yield immediately clear results and sometimes your SEO company may not even have anything to show for it… so how do you know they’re actually doing what they say they are? And that that’s actually the right thing to be doing in the first place?
And shouldn’t you be number one on Google by now?
SEO: What to Realistically Expect
Before we get started let’s address that point: no you should not ‘be number one on Google by now’. If any SEO company told you that you would be, then that’s as good a sign as any that you shouldn’t trust that service. No one can guarantee you the top spot on Google, or at least not for competitive search terms.
Something to remember here is that you’ll probably be going up against countless other companies all with the same goals as you. If you sell ‘blank CDs’… well then so do about 1,000 other companies, some of which will have been doing SEO for years and some of which will be spending millions on it. Your chances of getting to number one for ‘blank CDs’ in the next year are pretty slim.
There are ways around this of course. Targeting local phrases like ‘blank CDs Dorset’ for instance can greatly narrow your competition, as can going for more obtuse, long-tail phrases like ‘buy cheap blank CDs and DVDs’. Of course fewer people search for these longer terms but it’s better to be on page one for a less popular term than page 20 for a great one. This is how SEO for small business tends to work.
An SEO Timeline
Real SEO companies understand this but they also know you need to start earning money as soon as possible. That’s why they will start out with you by helping you to come up with a strategy that will work for you. Perhaps that means cleaning up your site first, perhaps it means spending some money on a PPC campaign, or perhaps it will mean doing social media. The point is though, that these days SEO doesn’t take place in a vacuum but is closely intertwined with SMO, advertising, content marketing and web design. Your SEO company should discuss this strategy with you early on and it should be something that makes sense to you and works with your brand.
This consultation and strategy can take about a month alongside doing keyword research to help you find what the best terms to target are for your company. Thus you could easily go for a month before seeing any tangible work but you should be in regular communication with your SEO provider.
Month two will likely involve the development of content, networking, optimization for your site and pages (basically changing the content and code to better reflect your goals) and maybe some link building/social media. This will likely continue for a few months at least before you start to see noticeable increases in your traffic coming from organic search. And that’s of course dependent on your budget – if you can’t afford much then you should expect results to be much slower.
Quality Over Quantity
If this all sounds a bit slow going then you might be tempted to instead choose an SEO company that promises to build ’50 links’ in the first month and to write ’10 articles’… all for $200!
That might sound tempting but try to keep in mind that SEO these days is all about quality and all about the long-game. Google has become much more sophisticated in the way its algorithms work and it’s no longer possible to ‘win’ in the search engines through volume alone. Posting lots of links only works if those are good links on high quality websites related to your niche. Likewise those links need to look ‘organic’ (as though they were posted naturally, not by you) and they need to have varied anchors. In other words, you get what you pay for and if you pay for quantity you might actually end up damaging your position in the search engines by looking manipulative.
This goes double for content – so if the content your SEO company is producing isn’t the sort of thing that you would want to read then look elsewhere.
So… how long does SEO take to start working? The answer is that it should start working right away. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be at the top spot on Google right away… or ever. This is not the only metric that a good SEO company should be measured on.
If you’re worried, try talking to your company and looking at the quality of their posts. That’s the real hall mark of good SEO for small business.
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