One of the first questions we get asked by almost every client is, “How long will it take before we start seeing the results from our SEO strategy?”

Understandably, business owners want to know when they can expect to reap the rewards of their investment but unlike paid ad campaigns where results can be almost instant, search engine optimisation is a long-term strategy.

When embarking on SEO, you should do so with an understanding and acceptance that it will take some time before you start to see results and that there’s no defined time period. This is because there are so many underlying factors and strategies — if one thing is certain though, it will be that it’s well worth your persistence and patience.

All things considered, what is a reasonable time before you will see results?

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What success looks like

Before you can even contemplate how long you must wait before seeing the fruits of your labour, you first need to define what success looks like for you — what are your goals and what are the KPIs you’ll use to track your progress?

When it comes to SEO there are literally dozens of metrics that you can use to track success — but when you’re starting out it’s best just to pick a few that you can focus on. Start with the metrics that are most important to your business and track them regularly.

To be clear, goals are the end outcome that you want to achieve, while KPIs are the metrics that track your progress towards the goals.

Take this for example. You may have a goal to increase revenue, be it a specific amount or percentage over, say, a one-year period. To measure your success in achieving this, you might track metrics such as organic traffic, impressions and conversion rate.

Some of the other metrics you might consider measuring dependent on your goals include:

  • Keyword ranking
  • SERP visibility
  • Click through rate (CTR)
  • Bounce rate
  • Authority score
  • Backlinks
  • Page speed
  • Time spent on page
  • Impressions

Whatever goals you aspire to achieve, make sure they’re both realistic and measurable.

Environmental factors that influence how long it takes to see results

Generally speaking, it will take longer to drive SEO results for a new domain than it would for an existing one. Search engine optimisation efforts on a new domain may require 9–12 months to see results while we can comfortably suggest that SEO results on an existing domain may be seen quicker at between 6–12 months.

However, this isn’t always the case. There are a few factors that should always be considered when embarking on an SEO strategy that will significantly influence the length of time it will take before your SEO efforts start to shine through.

When developing an SEO strategy, it’s crucial to get a snapshot of your website’s historical performance. Just because you have an established domain doesn’t mean results will be made easy, but the history of your website will provide some key insights into how quickly your SEO efforts will lead you to your goals. If your website has had SEO work carried out that is in contravention to Google’s webmaster guidelines, has been penalised by Google in the past or has some severe issues that need to be resolved, you will need to adjust your expectations accordingly and understand that it may take longer to resolve the issues and start generating results.

A competitor analysis is a sensible first step when mapping out an SEO strategy. Who are your competitors? How are they performing? What are their SEO strategies? How do you measure up? Not only will the current performance of your competitors have an impact on yours, but so too will their ongoing efforts. Get started with an Online Path competitor analysis.

You can’t change your website’s history and you certainly can’t control the competition but, in most cases, you can control the resources you plug in to your SEO strategy and efforts. As a long-term online marketing strategy, SEO isn’t something you can switch on and walk away from — it requires attention and consistency to reach your goals. More resources will mean more focus and consistent attention to SEO actions and tasks in a holistic approach to improving your visibility in search results so you can kick those goals.

On and off page SEO issues will impact your path to success

Understanding the key on and off page SEO issues that stand between your current online marketing results and your goals will be key to implementing a successful SEO strategy that can be achieved within a reasonable timeframe.

A site audit will uncover any issues with your website and identify the technical issues that need to be resolved as a priority in order for your future SEO strategy and efforts to be successful within a suitable timeframe. Contact us for a free SEO health check.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, content is king. While there is a range of other factors that influence your ranking, Google’s ultimate goal is to serve relevant and engaging content to users so content is and will continue to be an uncompromisable element of SEO. Creating high-quality content should always remain at the forefront of your online marketing strategy and will be key to boosting (or delaying!) the success of your SEO efforts.

Search engines can get bogged down trying to understand and make sense of all the URLs on a website. This means they might miss the ones that are important. Spend some time to cleaning up the URLs that you no longer need to improve the chance that the ones you want to be noticed are.

With relevant and high-quality content, backlinks will be a driving force behind your SEO success. Google views backlinks as indicators of trust and confidence in your website and content, and so they have the capacity to boost your performance. But not just any backlinks will do — they must come from reputable and high authority websites, and higher quality links will naturally have more influence to drive quicker SEO results.

When will you start to see results?

While we have provided an indication above, there is ultimately no one answer to how long it will take to see the results of SEO as there is a range of underlying factors that must be considered and addressed.

Every website is different. Existing websites all come with their own unique history, site structure, content, performance, results and combination of technical SEO issues — all of which need to be considered when putting together an effective SEO strategy.

When it comes to SEO for a new domain, the best advice we can offer is to build a new website for SEO, not just with SEO in mind. It will make all the difference.

Consistency is key

Ever been tempted to pull the pin or scale back SEO efforts because you are tracking well and sitting above your competition? If you take anything away from this blog, make it to not become complacent or too big for your boots — SEO is a moving beast and it’ll move on without you if you don’t keep the reins in your hands.

Your SEO efforts can come undone in a heartbeat, particularly if your competition continues to invest or there are algorithm changes that impact your website’s performance.

SEO is a long-term strategy and one well-worth the investment. It requires consistency, resources and know-how but can pay dividends if you focus your efforts on the right SEO tasks and in the right order.

Online Path SEO experts are a wealth of experience and fountain of knowledge when it comes to SEO. They stay on top of algorithm changes and industry trends so you don’t have to — but you can reap the rewards. We can help set your SEO efforts in the right direction with a free SEO health check or competitor analysis — contact us for an obligation free chat today.

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