Why does Search Engine Optimisation take so long?

You finally started taking SEO more seriously.

Your site is fully optimised for your keywords and you are still in the process of building links to your pages. You check the search results but your site has barely moved. In fact, your site is still in the same positions as it was before. One might be inclined to believe that SEO doesn’t work.

But this is simply not true.

Search engines continue to be one of the most profitable marketing channels. Data shows that a staggering 89% of consumers begin the buying process through search. Ranking for your target keywords can practically guarantee a steady stream of targeted traffic to your pages. And more traffic ultimately translates to more sales.

SEO Takes Time

So how long does it take to rank a site?

The answer largely depends on the following factors:

  • Domain age: Is your site newly registered? If so it can take even longer to rank as your site has yet to establish any authority in the search engines. Google tends to favour sites that have been around for longer which makes sense.
  • Keywords: What keywords are you targeting? If you are targeting keywords that get a lot of search volume, it can take months or even years to rank for them. This is generally why we recommend targeting long tail keywords as these are easier to rank for but still drive highly targeted traffic.
  • Competition: How competitive is your industry? You will have a much easier time of ranking your site if you compete in a rather niche industry. Strong competition means that it could take even longer to rank for your keywords.

Because of these factors above, the time it takes to rank really depends. If you have a strong marketing strategy and your site is already established, you could be ranking in weeks instead of months. But if you are starting with a new site and the competition is strong, it could easily take months or even longer to rank for your keywords.

How Long it Takes to Rank

The sooner you get started the better.

But one thing to remember is that there is no such thing as shortcuts. An SEO agency that “guarantees” results is likely resorting to questionable practices that could end up getting your site penalised or even banned from the results. SEO takes time but when everything is in place your site gains a major competitive advantage.

The following is a general outline of what you can expect in terms of an SEO marketing campaign:

  • Month 1: The first month is the research and discovery phase. This typically encompasses a comprehensive website audit, keyword strategy, and market research. Technical errors that could be affecting your site are also generally addressed in the first month.
  • Month 2: The second month involves optimising your content to rank for their target keywords. Other work such as link building and fixing technical issues are also carried out. Your site will likely not see any results yet as your campaign is still in the early phases.
  • Month 3: Research from the earlier steps finally make their way into the third month. This involves creating content for your site such as new blog posts and articles. This is when you can start seeing some traffic and even sales.
  • Month 4: Content creation and technical optimisation as well as link building continue. At this point, you should now start seeing a marked improvement in rankings and traffic. You won’t be ranking number one yet but your positions will be much better than before.

Your SEO campaign will continue with primary focuses on content creation and link building. Once you start seeing a decent amount of traffic, your SEO company may suggest other services such as conversion rate optimisation to improve sales even further.

So this is a general outline of an SEO campaign.

Most SEO agencies will tell you that it can take anywhere from four to six months to see your rankings increase. This is generally accurate but keep in mind that it can take longer depending on various factors from the keywords you target to how competitive the industry is.

The key though is to continue with your campaign and not to quit to early.