As the CEO of an internet marketing agency, perhaps the one question that I get asked more than others is: “How long will it take to get to the first page of Google?”
Well, let’s say, this question has no right answer. As search engines and capabilities continually evolve, catering to the user and online publisher needs, only Google Engineers working behind-the-scenes know what’s really happening. It is like Coca-Cola’s secret recipe that has remained one of the most heavily guarded trade secrets in the world.
How Search Works: A Brief Introduction
Figure: Matt Cutts from Google talking in the video How Search Works.
Google ranking systems are made up of not one, but a whole series of algorithms.
To providers its users with the most useful information, Google considers more than 250 factors, including the words of your query, relevance, and usability of pages, the expertise of sources, and your location and settings.
Besides, the algorithms behind it meet high standards of relevance and quality within the ambit of a new program called “PageRank” – which measures a page’s importance through various metrics.
That means, no two websites, even in the same industry, are considered equal.
With so many factors at play, it’s nearly impossible to predict what will make or push one website to be better than the other.
While this is probably not the answer you are looking for, let me give you a simple comparison:
“Can anyone accurately predict where a stock price will go in 90 days?”.
Similarly, it’s complex to give an accurate answer to whether your site will start ranking immediately. You cannot accurately predict this either.
However, most subject-matter experts agree that it typically takes four to six months to start seeing results.
“You might begin seeing improvements in organic ranking and an increase in traffic for keyword topics with little competition in just a few weeks. On the other hand, moderately competitive topics might takes months, while highly competitive phrases could even take one year or more!” – Search Engine Journal
“… it takes 4 to 6 months to start seeing results… SEO results grow over time.” – Forbes
SEO is Not a Sprint, But a Marathon
SEO is not something that happens overnight or even within a month. I understand it’s not easy to be patient in the world of Amazon Prime and same-day delivery. Many companies and business owners want to see results from their SEO campaigns right away.
They may even question their investment if campaigns are working because they may not see any movement in ranking for weeks altogether. But the truth is, even the best-executed SEO strategies take time to show results. You have to trust the process and your marketing partner to allow efforts to come to fruition. For example, we recently had a lawyer-client where we put in over 50 hours on their initial SEO campaign. Google “sandboxed” them and won’t let them rank on the first page as they have never ranked before for that term.
Then on Day 92 suddenly they shot up to the first page, and then the number one position and stayed there for over six months! Remember, SEO is an investment. Think of SEO as your online traffic 401k. Your efforts begin to compound gradually over time and deliver greater and higher returns for the longer you continue.
Many business owners underestimate how much time, effort, and money it may take to be successful with Search Engine Optimization. Success rarely comes within the first couple of months.
In fact, I’ve seen companies quit before they even start. After the first month, I find them saying or thinking,
- “What are we getting for all this money?”
- “I don’t see this working.”
- Or “The cost does not justify the results we are getting.”
If that’s what you’re also thinking, then probably you’re not ready to do SEO. That’s simply because you have unrealistic expectations of what can be achieved or may even not have the budget to invest in running an effective SEO campaign. Again, SEO is a marathon, not a sprint.
After having worked on hundreds of different internet marketing campaigns, the one thing I have consistently seen is that SEO speaks RESULTS for those who stick with it. SEO is the one most significant investment that I believe a business can make. I have seen it provide a 28x return over Pay-Per-Click advertising alone!
So, How Does the SEO Process Work
Here is a typical example of what your solid SEO effort in the first few months may look like:
Campaign Kickoff. Project Discovery. Competitive Evaluation. Keyword Research. Site Audit. Analytics & Onboarding.
Then we start Technical SEO, which includes Site Speed, Image Compression, Sever Changes, SiteMap, and Indexing, to name a few.
We are also starting some backend Onpage SEO and Offpage Strategies such as Categories and Tags, Meta Descriptions, and NAP Listings.
All these things are hard to see on the surface but are extremely important, and it takes time to realize its full benefit to your website.
Content Strategy and Implementation. On-page Content Creation, Optimization, Blogs, Guest Posts, Press Releases, and well as better defining the buyer’s journey if that hasn’t already been mapped out.
Continued Content Creation and Delivery with a focus on Hyper-Local SEO. Ongoing Improvements to the site with additional pages such as Location Pages, FAQ, Whitepapers, and Downloadables.
Off-page SEO will then kick into high gear, which includes Link Building, Outreach, and GMB optimization.
By this month, you should hopefully see incremental improvements in your rankings, traffic, and leads.
It depends on where you are starting. If you’ve never been on the first few pages, you will not see significant improvements yet. That’s because Google didn’t even associate you with those terms, so that is the first step.
At this point, we will work to build your online brand presence through syndication. You will start benefiting from a focus on Onpage Conversion Optimization on the pages that are getting the most traffic.
The efforts to improve the traffic you’re receiving converts into leads or sales.
The formula you should be thinking :
New Leads = “Targeted Traffic” + “High Converting Page”
Your traffic and leads will start picking up. Your overall activities can vary greatly depending on what type of company you are (B2C vs. B2B) and what kind of hosting and website framework you are on. So trust the process. And trust the company you work with. Ask for deliverables if you are unsure of what is happening.
Here at EWR Digital, we are staying abreast with new strategies through industry best practices and educating our customers through our weekly BestSEOPodcast.
By continually looking at the competitive and changing landscape, we re-evaluate, steer focus, and reengineer our creative SEO strategies to get you the traffic + rankings you want to grow your digital footprint. SEO works holistically over months, not weeks, and not just based on a handful of parameters. When working hand in hand with business owners getting their feedback and completion, the information loop is when clients really start seeing the results they expected.
If you are wanting to start a new SEO campaign or just need a second look of what your company is currently doing – feel free to reach out to one of my consultants at EWR Digital for a free 30-minute consultation or me.