Any honest SEO Agency will bristle at the question, “how long does SEO take”?

It’s not a very easy question to answer, and if they give you one – you should direct them to the door.

Brashness aside, anyone promising results in a finite timeline are either lying to you or are clueless. There’s no shortage of snake oil salesmen in the SEO industry. It may not be as bad as it was in the past, but there are still very many agencies who are overpromising and underdelivering.

Or they flat out are trying to bilk money from you to rest on their laurels.

How long does SEO take?

It depends on your site’s content, architecture, competition, and the links pointing to your website. There are some other things to consider, but these are the basics.

I’m going to break down these factors down for you now.

Your Content Plays a Role

Marketing will always be about content. SEO is undoubtedly no different. Content is a significant factor in driving people to your website if it’s the right content.

The goal here is to solve a visitor’s problem.

Way back when people would stuff keywords in on a website and see themselves shoot up to the top 3 of Google/Bing. After a myriad of algorithm changes, this is no longer the case.

Now it’s essential to get the customer’s intent right and prove yourself as an authority on the topic at hand. For some, this means casting a wide net and targeting as many keywords for something in the targeted niche. For others, it means shrinking down the list and writing massive long-form articles.

I don’t think that there’s a right or wrong way here, just as long as the content is relevant and it possesses a finite solution to the problem of your reader.

If you provide solutions to common problems, you’ll see results at a better clip than someone who doesn’t follow that method.

Years ago, this mostly meant just providing well-written content. While that’s still mostly true, this also means utilizing social media, coming up with great infographics, videos, and sometimes even getting lucky on viral content to get results.

It pays to think outside of the box here; your site will rank much faster.

Links, Links, and Links

Inbound links, or backlinks, are coveted in SEO.

Some people think links have lost their luster and aren’t as important as in years past, but they’re still critical and their procurement can answer “how long does SEO take?”

However, it’s not really about how many links you have.

It’s more about quality.

Lower-quality links, such as those that have no relevance to your industry, generally don’t do much. They can hurt you. So will links that appear on your link profile too quickly. You want each link to look and feel natural in the eyes of Google.

As a small business, you may find that it’s a little tougher to earn a lot of natural, relevant links. After all, a lot of the best link prospects may not want to give them to you right away. That doesn’t mean it’s difficult; you just must be more creative.

Link outreach and content marketing campaigns can bolster your site’s link profile. It takes time, planning, and a lot of effort to get done. Luck doesn’t hurt either.

But as long as you follow the rules and don’t try to do anything that could jeopardize your site, your site will rank faster with backlinks.

Your Industry Matters Too

How long does SEO take?

Look no further than your competition.

It’s probably the most significant factor in determining how quickly you rank on page one of Google. The more companies there are offering the same service or products you sell on page one, the longer it will be for you to get up there.

Of course, this is also subject to who you are and what you’re selling. If there aren’t as many people in your area or industry, you won’t find any real issue ranking for the first page. Then again, if there’s no real competition and people don’t want it, it may not matter, so having competitors on page one is good.

One of the problems that small business owners face is that they may find themselves in a battle with more established companies selling the same thing. While this isn’t a death-knell, they will probably have a bigger marketing budget. If they do, they can hire companies with better contacts who will make it much tougher to dethrone them.

It also plays a significant role in how fast SEO will work for your business.

Domain, Location, and Keywords

Domain names are hugely important in SEO and the time it takes to see results. If possible, you should want your domain name to have your keyword in it. It may not always be possible, but it should have variation if you can. Domains are also crucial in terms of age. An older registered domain is more straightforward to rank than one that you’ve just registered. The reason for this is because search engines focus on trust, and an older website domain seems more trustworthy – even if it’s not.

If you’re a small front-facing business, your location will most definitely play a part in where it ranks. Google My Business is a godsend for local companies, and since it’s a free tool, I advise you to take advantage of it as best as you can. There you’re allowed to tell Google about your business, including what your company does. Doing this will eventually increase your rankings.

Keywords are everything in SEO and can time to hammer out what those should be for your website. After all, if you sell something, you want them to type in the item of choice and see you first, right? Keywords accomplish precisely this. The more relevant keywords you have to your site, the higher the targeted traffic you’re going to receive. If you’re kicking out great content with the right keywords, you’re bound to gain more traffic.

Keyword research isn’t super easy or quick, but it is the first step of a successful SEO campaign.

Conclusion

If you take all of those things to heart, you can see why you won’t get a hard and fast answer to how long does SEO take? There are just so many variables that factor into the equation. Even if you had a great idea, algorithms, competition, and the rules change for SEO change quickly.

The truth is that you’re going to see results on less competitive keywords first, then medium ones, and then hopefully the prominent money keywords.

It highly depends on your niche, your area, and the competition. If you’re somewhere where there’s not a lot of other players in the game, or you have a large budget, you can increase the odds a bit more. What is true is that it’s not a plug and play marketing arm; it’s something that takes a lot of diligence, experience, and the will to succeed.

As long as you’re realistic about your expectations, pay attention to any movement on your site by providing great content, you’ll better get an idea as to what to expect in your SEO campaigns.