As a search engine optimization specialist, one of the most common questions I’m asked by clients is “How long will it be before I start seeing my website appear on the search engines.” Unfortunately, this question does not have a simple answer.
In general, I tell my clients it should take somewhere between 3-6 months before they see any type of quality traffic from search engines. Sometimes it can be a faster process, sometimes it can be dreadfully slower.
Gone are the days where you could hire an SEO or online marketing agency, have them post your website link on 50 directories in one day and see results within two weeks. Gone too are the days when a simple keyword optimized backlink in the footer of your agency’s site or blog shot you up the rankings within just a few days. The key to achieving quality returns in SEO these days is; content, backlinks and most of all patience.
There are several factors which contribute to how quickly your site may get highly ranked on Google or Bing. Some of them you can somewhat control and some you can’t. Let’s go through a few of the factors which determine whether it will take 3 months or 12-18 months before you end up with the quality search engine traffic your business deserves.
1. Did you just purchase your domain and create a brand new website or has your website been established for a few years?
Google and Bing are all about trust. If you’re doing SEO on a website which has already been established for 3+ years, chances are you already have some backlinks pointing to it and some content running through it. This shows the search engines that you’re not a fly-by-night organization and thus they give you more trust and better results. On the other hand, if your website/business is brand new, it will take some time for you to find favour. With a new site, chances are you’ll be looking at waiting at least 6 months before you see any results.
2. Who is your target audience? Does your website have a global reach or a local reach?
Achieving fast results can be helped or hindered by the reach of your target audience. If you have a targeted local audience, you may find traffic from search engines in your reports far more quickly than if you have a broad target audience. Targeting a specific keyword and audience such as “wedding planner Detroit” will be a far better option than targeting just “wedding planner”. When targeting a specific audience you are only dealing with competition for that audience, not the broad audience of everyone searching general terms like “wedding planner”.
3. Are you developing unique and intriguing content on a regular basis or is your website static and stale?
The search engines want people to have a reason to come back to your site on a regular basis. Why would anyone bother visiting your site repeatedly if there’s nothing new to read? Having a blog/news/events section on your website is crucial to SEO and always has been. If users have a reason to come back to your site, so do the search engines. Add a blog directly to your site (don’t start a separate WordPress or Blogger site) and update it at least once a week with content relevant to your target audience.
4. Does your website have any links pointing to it from other websites? Are they quality links or are they links from websites that have no relevance to your targeted keywords?
As I mentioned in my intro, gone are the days when submitting your website to 50 directories helps you with SEO. Nowadays, the backlinks you receive from other website have to be quality. What does that mean? It means guest posting, it means earned links from other sites, it means sponsoring charities, it means don’t spam. Contact a local blog/news site and have them write an article about your business with a link pointing back to your site. Try contacting a blog specific to your industry and write a guest post which offers their readers quality content and gives you a writing credit which points back to your website.
Now I know what you’re thinking… “But Sebastian, this seems like a lot of work and more importantly a lot of time.” Absolutely! Google, Bing and the other search engines are constantly adapting their algorithm for ranking sites which makes it difficult for people like me to “game” the system and truth be told, I couldn’t be happier.
If it were easy for people like me to get websites ranked, everyone would be doing it and 85%-90% of all search results would be filled with useless spam. SEO is an art and with any type of art, you need patience to create a beautiful masterpiece. Take the time to nurse your SEO into success and earn returns that not only last weeks but years to come.