How Long Does SEO Take: Setting Expectations

5 min read

Avatar Luke Tobin

11th January, 2019

SEO,Technical SEO

As a recommended Digital Marketing Agency, we often get asked the same questions time and time again. How long does SEO take? How can I get my website on Google? How do I rank for certain words?

We aim to educate our clients as well as executing tailored Digital Marketing Campaigns that deliver results.

How Long Does SEO Take? Well, this depends on a range of factors. Most generic marketing sites will claim it takes between four and six months. This is incorrect! We can offer great methods to boost your site and its content but we can’t offer you a catch-all timeframe as it would just be ingenious.

This is a generalised answer and isn’t applicable to all businesses. You need to take into consideration the competitiveness of the industry, objectives and current situation.

Our Digital Marketing Consultants have compiled this blog, to give you an overview of how to best determine how long SEO would take for your business. We will consider three key variables: current situation, business objectives/goals and most importantly budget.

If you’re wondering whether SEO is for you, check out our detailed explanation of the importance of SEO in 2019 or our E-commerce SEO checklist, for those with an online shop.

Measuring Business Objectives and Results

Generic SEO Agencies often measure the usual SEO KPI’s, such as traffic and rankings. However, these KPI’s aren’t directly measuring SEO efforts. If your website has moved from page 5 on Google’s results to page 1, that’s great. But what effect has this had on organic traffic? Are you targeting the right keywords, are you converting new customers from this organic traffic?

It is important to understand that SEO is a process. It drives increased exposure and visibility of your website. However, your website still has an important job to do – converting those visitors to take desired actions.  As you can see, SEO is more of a jigsaw puzzle, with different pieces working together to drive results.

Here at Digital Ethos, we understand perfectly how to put this jigsaw puzzle together. We treat each business as a unique case and analyse what best jigsaw pieces work for them and them alone. Get a free SEO audit for your site to see how we can help you.

How Long Should SEO Take for My Business?

As the world of Digital Marketing takes over traditional forms of marketing, this is the big question on everyone’s mind. There are three main variables to consider if you are asking this question:

  • Current Situation

Where is your business currently? (we don’t mean physically). A thorough analysis of your current situation will determine your starting point and what SEO tactics and strategies are needed. A few things to consider are…

What search terms do you currently rank for and where do they rank?

How much search volume do these keywords drive?

How much authority does your website currently have in relation to your competitors?

What content assets do you have?

Do you have any technical SEO issues?

Is your website appropriate for 2019?

Do you have a content management system like WordPress?

  • Business Objectives and Goals

Where do you want to be at the end of 2019 and what is your long-term goal. Your business objectives will determine if SEO is a good fit for you at this point in time. For some businesses, paid search (PPC) marketing can be a good starting point and then when that is driving profits these can be reinvested into an SEO campaign.  A few questions to consider are:

How quickly do you need to take action?

How active are your competitors?

  • Budget, resource and value

Once you understand your current situation and business objectives, you are able to determine what needs to be done as a priority in order to drive more money into your business.

At this point, you may need technical SEO, local SEO, website development changes, content development, link authority building, or much more? If you are unsure at this point if SEO is still right for you, a consultative approach to building your business is a good place to start, our friendly team are happy to pick up the phone and chat about your business needs for 2019.

Without taking into consideration all these factors, it is hard to give a definitive answer as to how long SEO will take. There are many different tactics and strategies to SEO that need to be considered, it is not the case of ‘one size fits all’.

SEO can never a good, fast and cheap. In fact, it can only ever be two of these. If your campaign is fast and cheap, it won’t be good. If it is good and fast, it probably won’t be cheap. Cheap and good? It won’t be fast. Get the idea?

SEO is a fine balance between art and science, it needs both emotion and fact. To add more the mix, search engine algorithms, business goals and competitor actions are constantly changing. That is why it is essential to invest for 6-12 months and not just hit your goals and pull the plug. In fact, this can be really damaging to your website and is highly discouraged in the world of Digital Marketing.

Your SEO campaign will need monthly reporting, not only to understand the SEO metrics but to get an idea of how these are impacting your real-world business objectives.

In the majority of cases, getting an accurate idea of how long SEO will take will require the consultancy from an SEO expert.

Why Isn’t My Website Getting Traffic?

This question often goes hand in hand with “how long does SEO take to start working?”.

In short, SEO can start instantly. SEO strategies and tasks can begin as soon as you say go. Seeing the effect of these strategies can take time and will differ from business to business depending on the competitive nature of the industry.

If you are a brand or big business and have tons of authority but technical or strategic SEO issues, fixes here can deliver big results in short timescales. For the majority of SME businesses, it may take months or even years to reach your SEO objectives. To determine how long SEO will take for you we must analyse the current situation against your objectives and factor in your budget and resources.

Unfortunately, this means there are no easy answers. But it is possible to understand each business as its own.

If you are struggling to understand any of these timescales or technical terms, please drop us a message on our contact page and we will get back to you as soon as possible. Our Digital Marketing consultants have a vast amount of experience in a whole range of industries, so don’t be afraid to ask.

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