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How Long Does SEO Take?

In the world of digital marketing, SEO is like the backbone of your online presence. It’s crucial, but it’s also wrapped in a bit of mystery, isn’t it? For instance, how long does SEO take to work?

We all know SEO is essential to get our websites noticed by the right people. It’s the key to popping up in those Google search results. But once they start paying attention to SEO, a common question many of my clients have is “How long does SEO take to work?” 

Let’s unravel this today, shall we?


What Exactly is SEO? How long does SEO take?

SEO is one of those things we all know we need…but it’s not something we always understand. So let’s go back to the basics and do a quick definition of SEO. 

SEO is like a big signpost that helps your website get found online. It’s all about figuring out what your ideal clients (ICs) are searching for and then strategically using those terms. 

And, since most people only click on the first 10 or so search results, the higher you can rank, the better. But, SEO is about more than just keywords; it’s also about nurturing your website and maintaining it. 

The bottom line? Whether or not you put effort toward SEO strategy, search algorithms are constantly combing your site for information and ranking it for users based on what they find. Deciding to work with search algorithms and leaning into the process is what building an SEO strategy is all about.

It drives traffic, boosts your Google ranking, and is incredibly cost-effective compared to traditional ads. 

The best part? It builds a foundation of know, like, and trust with your ideal audience – and that’s something you can’t get with ads!

But once you’ve bought into SEO strategy…how long does SEO take? And how long does it take for Google to update SEO?

Want to learn more about SEO? Read about it the basic terms here, the best SEO plugins here, and grab your SEO checklist for WordPress here.


How You’ll Know SEO is Working

How long does SEO take? And how will you know if your SEO efforts are paying off? Look for these signs:


Increased organic traffic 

Whenever you see more visitors coming to your website from search engines, it means more people are finding your website through searches. It’s a clear indicator that your SEO is on the right track.


Improved keyword rankings

Keep track of the keywords you’re targeting, and check in every so often. If you’re climbing up the search ranks for relevant terms, your strategy is working!


Pro Tip: Remember, it’s not just about any traffic spike. If it’s not for keywords that resonate with your business, then it’s not really benefiting you.


More website conversions

The whole point of investing in SEO is to get more ideal clients to your website, right? When you combine a great SEO plan with a strategically designed website, you’ll see more discovery calls, direct bookings, and (if you have products) sales.


Already know you need help with this? Let’s chat!


The Big Question: How Long Does SEO Take?


And how long does it take for Google to Update SEO?

The short answer: it depends!

The longer answer? It depends on a few factors, and you have at least some control over most of them by optimizing your site speeds and content.

How long does it take for SEO to update? To get a concrete idea of how long SEO takes, let’s delve into some data. 

According to Semrush, it typically takes 4-12 months to see significant SEO results.

And another recent study showed that out of 28,000 domains, only 7.65% maintained a top 100 ranking over 13 months. By the 6th month, 19% of these domains started ranking in the top 10 and stayed there. 

So, what does this tell us? Exactly how long does SEO take?

SEO is a continual process. The timeframe for seeing results depends on various factors, like market competitiveness and keyword difficulty. Consistently adding valuable content peppered with targeted keywords keeps building your SEO strength.


Why does SEO take so long to work? 

Why does SEO take time? Google is constantly evaluating countless factors across the entire internet. It’s an organic, non-paid process vs. a paid listing (which you get immediate results on). 


Here are some of the aspects Google factors into SEO rankings:

  • Relevance: How well does your content match the search queries? And how does it stack up against other websites that have similar content?
  • Content Quality: Is your content genuinely helpful and trustworthy? No one likes clicking on a search result just to find off-topic content or spammy promos!
  • User Experience: Factors like site speed, loading times, and bounce rates matter.
  • Complex algorithms: Just like Gretchen Weiner’s hair, Google’s algorithms are full of secrets! 


How long does it take for Google to update SEO?

Like I mentioned above, Semrush says 4-12 months. Ahrefs says it could take a little less time – just 3-6 months. 

That’s because it takes time for you to make changes to your website. Then, it takes time for Google’s algorithms to crawl your website and re-rank pages according to their most recent content and relevance.

So, how long does it take Google to update SEO?

Google is constantly working behind the scenes to evaluate and re-rank web content. The timeline to ranking higher might look slightly different for each website. The key is adding consistent, fresh content on your end and keeping your website optimized for SEO.


How long does it take for SEO to update?

You can work on updating your SEO strategy anytime…and consistently keep it up over time!

How long does SEO take? Yes, it can take up to 12 months for Google to catch up with your new strategy. However, for anyone with a website, how long does it take for SEO to update? You can update it immediately!


If you want to kickstart the SEO update process on your website, you can work with an SEO expert. The process can take a few weeks up to a few months, depending on how much site content you have.


The results of your hard work will start to work hard for your website right away! From there, the more content and keywords you add and the more you optimize, the better your SEO investment will become over time.


Speeding Up the SEO Process

If you’ve been wondering “how long does SEO take?” And then when you find out, realize you’re thinking, “HOW long does it take for Google to update SEO!?” Here are some tips to encourage it to happen a *little* faster.


Use an SEO plugin like Rank Math

Rank Math makes it easy to SEO-optimize by pointing out ways you can improve the on-page content you’ve written. Once it’s installed, you can even use Rank Math to go back and optimize existing page content to align with SEO best practices.


Use Rank Math to instantly index pages

Installing the Instant Indexing Rank Math plugin and using it for your new posts will send the signal to Google that it should crawl your website ASAP… Which means that it will start factoring your pages into search results sooner! 


Optimize High-Performing Pages 

If you have a page that’s already performing well, small tweaks can go a long way. Add in a few more long-tail keywords, optimize image file names and alt text, and restructure H2 and H3s to include keywords and make the page easier to read.


Backlinks Matter

While it’s not an absolute must, backlinks can give your site an SEO authority. Backlinks are links to your website from other, trustworthy websites. You can build backlinks through guest blogging, posting links to your website from podcast episode descriptions, and reaching out to your biz besties for partnerships. But avoid SEO no-nos like paying for backlinks from scammy sites. Quality over quantity is best! 


Keyword strategy

Keyword research is the cornerstone of effective SEO. Aim for low-difficulty keywords that are easier to rank for. Bonus tip: consider targeting terms with fewer than 10,000 searches to face less competition. You’ll end up as the big fish in a small search pond and have a higher chance of being found by your IC. 


Focusing on technical SEO

Even though content and keywords are a large slice of the SEO pie, they’re not the only thing you need to optimize! Off-page and technical SEO play a huge role. Ensure your site is healthy with good loading speeds, mobile responsiveness, and user-friendly design.


Pro tip! A well-designed website like our Scalable Sites and Launch Week websites are designed for an amazing user experience that converts. That also helps your SEO game by promoting higher user engagement and lower bounce rates. It’s a win-win!


Continuously Adding Content

Want to know one of the best things you can do for SEO? Blog! Adding new content keeps your website dynamic and adds more keywords to the list of potential ranking terms. Simply put: more SEO-optimized pages on your website = more opportunities for people to find your site in a search. 


Fill out your Google Business Profile

You’ll build instant authority and start showing up in local search rankings! 


How long does SEO take? It takes time for SEO to work!

SEO is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. It requires patience, consistency, and a focus on quality. If you’re venturing into the SEO world or looking to enhance your existing strategy, remember it’s a journey worth embarking on for the long haul.


SEO strategy need a boost?

We build SEO-ready websites and offer audits and ongoing SEO services to keep your site Google-worthy. Contact us now!


Steph O'Keefe, SEO strategist and WordPress designer sitting at desk wearing a white shirt in Raleigh, NC.

I'm Steph!

I'm the Founder and creative Director behind Southern Creative, a.k.a. your SEO strategist and web designer.

My passion is crafting websites rooted in strategy so you can put your focus where your heart is while we launch your dream website that shows up online.