“Are we there yet?”
It’s that little voice you hear coming from the backseat on long family trips in the car when hours seemed to take days.
But, here’s a question for you. Have you ever heard yourself reciting those words in relation to your SEO campaign?
“Are we there yet?”
“Have we reached the top of Google?”
Hopefully, you stepped into the world of SEO with a clear set of goals in mind that clearly dictate when you have arrived. That could be to increase traffic to your site, rank higher in the search results or convert more clicks into customers.
You could be paying out for SEO services that guarantee results only to find, months down the line, you are no better off than when you started. You then start to question the legitimacy of these so-called ‘SEO experts’.
Do they really have my best interests at heart? Or are they here to take my money and do naff all? Some SEO companies will do this and you will leave out of pocket. The trick is to separate the specialists from scammers.
Today we’re going to tell you exactly how long it takes to rank in the search results. And if you’re feeling impatient, we’ve even got a few tricks to help speed up the process.
How long does SEO take?
Most people consider SEO as a journey from point A to point B. However, SEO is a far more complicated process. It isn’t a do it once and it’s done kind of thing. You need to be continually working on the optimisation of your website to maintain your position in the rankings.
The general consensus among SEO’s is that it takes anywhere between 4-6 months of consistent work. In some cases, it may take longer than expected. Let’s take a look at the factors that determine how long it takes to rank a website:
Like anything in business, you need to beat your competitors to the top spot. If you operate in a highly competitive market, then it’s going to be harder to earn position one rankings. You may, however, notice a significant improvement in your rankings as you bypass some of the lower-ranking pages.
The difficulty comes when trying to outrank competitors on the first page. They will have more authority and trust as they have already secured first place. The trick here is to focus on long-tail keywords that are less competitive but more targeted (used by searchers who know exactly what they want!) An example would be ranking for “SEO Services London” instead of simply “SEO.” In this case, you can be found for multiple variations of the same keyword.
Local or global:
It’s easier to come in first place when racing against 50 runners than against 500.
The same is true with SEO. When you extend your keywords to include locations in your area, it’s much easier than trying to rank for worldwide searches.
Keywords make up the base of any successful SEO campaign. It only follows that your content should be optimised using those keywords.
Long-form content, in particular, has incredible results. It gives you the opportunity to naturally introduce more keywords into your page. We’re not saying every piece of content you publish needs to be a 5,000-word masterpiece (though well done if it is!)
You should always look to explain a topic in detail and cover exactly what the reader expects. Otherwise, people may leave your site without exploring any further.
Is your site optimised correctly? Find out:
That brings us onto another critical concept in SEO; keyword density. You don’t want to stuff keywords into your content in an attempt to increase your rankings. Google is smart and will spot this from a mile away. Keyword density is the number of times a keyword is mentioned on a page divided by the total number of words on the page.
The general rule is to keep your keyword density at around 2% though it does differ from industry to industry. Our advice would be to calculate the keyword density of your top-ranking competitors and +0.5%.
It’s no surprise that backlinks have made it onto the list. They are Google’s number one ranking factor.
Google considers a link from a high-powered, relevant domain as a vote of confidence. There was a time when you could build links from any site and still experience an uplift in the rankings. As you can imagine, the SERPs were a feeding frenzy with sites battling it out to rank at the top. Google soon put a stop to that.
These days you can only benefit from backlinks if they are from authoritative domains that mention your site naturally in the context of an article. Any spammy, irrelevant links with over-optimised anchor text will be flagged by Google.
So, to make sure that your backlinks are only coming from domains that live up to this standard, you need to analyse them regularly. Use industry-standard tools like Moz, Ahrefs and Majestic to check the metrics of the sites that are linking to you.
Run a manual audit of your backlink profile to identify any spammy links. Note that while you may be building high-quality links to your domain, your competitors may not. There’s a good chance they are damaging your SEO efforts by pointing toxic links at your site. If you notice these links, take steps to remove them from your backlink profile.
One of the safest ways to remove a link is to contact the webmasters directly and ask them politely to take it down. If they don’t reply, take steps to submit a disavow file using Google’s disavow tool.
It’s essential to consider every link before submitting a disavow file. The last thing you want to do is disavow a link that is sending traffic to your site and boosting your rankings. Always speak to a professional before taking action.
Age of a website:
One ranking factor that Google takes into consideration is domain age. It makes sense that a site that has been live for a while has already built up authority and trust with search engines.
However, if you start your SEO campaign on a domain that is new, it may take several months before you start to see any movement. It also depends on the quality of that website. This includes important factors like mobile optimisation, website security and backlinks. Always check these factors before making a purchase.
You have heard you can rank position one in weeks. Companies have promised you instant results. You jump at the chance to rise to the top and sign on the dotted line. Remember though, SEO is not a one-time strategy.
Sure, using questionable tactics may see you rank position one, but your success will be short-lived. Google will catch on, and you will be down-ranked. Once you have lost that trust with Google, it’s hard to redeem yourself. In short, it’s not worth it!
Using natural marketing tactics that follow Google’s guidelines may take longer, but the results are long-lasting.
So, how long does SEO take?
It all depends on the following factors:
- Content Quality.
- Domain Age.
- Market Saturation.
- Local or National Campaign
If you are looking for ways to speed up the process, we recommend the following:
Tips for faster SEO results:
Find the best keywords.
Every SEO campaign starts with keywords.
So, how do you know if you’ve selected the right ones?
We spoke above about keyword difficulty. To see not only what the difficulty of a keyword is but also which competitors are ranking for that keyword, use a keyword research tool. Our favourite is Ahrefs, which gives you a full list of keyword suggestions.
Do you give up if the keyword is too competitive? No, but perhaps focus on long-tail alternatives. Our above example mentions ‘SEO’ but you can use this tactic for almost any industry.
Let’s say you sell women’s dresses. Instead of the keyword ‘dresses,’ which covers many possible search queries, why not go for ‘party dresses,’ ‘summer dresses,’ ‘dresses for curvy women’ or ‘denim dresses.’ The list goes on. The point we’re making is to extend your keywords to target specific audience/s.
Using keywords with the right search intent will do two things:
- Makes them easier to rank for.
- Makes them convert like crazy.
Another tip is to use your website to find keyword suggestions. The search bar in the top right-hand corner of your site is a godsend! Analyse what people are searching for on your site and use these terms to position yourself higher in the SERPs.
Start influencer marketing.
You know how we spoke about backlinks? Well, influencer marketing (otherwise known as outreach!) is a great way to secure high-quality links and increase your brand awareness.
This is the process of collaboration whereby you send an article, including a backlink to your site, to an influencer in your industry. This could be anyone from a blogger, Youtuber or news outlet. The choice is yours. You simply provide them with valuable content that brings new traffic to their site and engages with current readers, and they will credit you with a backlink.
Contacting influencers, building relationships and writing sponsored posts is a great way to get natural, relevant and authoritative backlinks.
These days influencers are savvy. They will spot a promotional post from a mile away. You often find that people will ask for money in exchange for a backlink. There’s no harm in this, so long as the content is natural – not spammy. Be prepared to haggle your way to secure a powerful link.
Don’t forget internal links.
While it’s important to secure backlinks, it’s also a good idea to link up pages on your site. This is called internal linking and will give your pages a boost. The idea is to link up content from one page to another relevant page on your site using keywords as your anchor text.
One backlink is equivalent to two internal links in ranking power. Keep this in mind when building out content for your site.
Create a seamless user experience.
SEO is essential. But it means nothing if you don’t take steps to engage with your audience once they land on your site. You want to see a strong ROI, and that only comes from conversion rate optimisation. Make sure your pages offer a seamless user experience and guide them towards a purchase.
a) Reduce clicks.
A little like ourselves when it comes to SEO, your customers are impatient. They don’t want to have to sift through reams of content to find what they came for. Nothing should be too difficult to find. As a general rule, it should not take more than three clicks to get to a page.
Your homepage should be only one click away. If people have to dig deep into your site to find what they’re looking for you can wave goodbye to your customers.
b) Include media.
We mentioned that long-form content converts and ranks well. While that may be the case, it can also put people off if they are faced with a page of text. Having images and videos that break up a page can do wonders for your conversion rate.
Articles with images get 94% more videos that those with text alone.
It’s also possible to rank your images and videos in the search results if you get your optimisation nailed on. Use alt text with keywords to explain what’s happening in your images and rename your files. It’s also important to resize and compress your files, so they don’t slow down your site, which brings us on to…
c) Speed up load times.
Did you know that 40% of people leave a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load? People don’t want to wait around for content to load. They will bounce right off in search of a competitor.
Having a fast website will indirectly help your SEO efforts. Google likes popular sites. If people are bouncing off your site, that’s a big red flag!
d) Optimise for mobile.
Over 60% of all website traffic now comes from a mobile device. Plus, Google has now rolled out mobile-first indexing, which priorities the mobile version of your site.
In short, mobile optimisation is a pretty big deal!
To check if your site is optimised for mobile searches, use Google’s mobile-friendly tool.
Be patient and the results will come!
It goes without saying that we all want results quickly. Much of SEO is building up the trust of your website, which takes time.
If you’re feeling disappointed about your SEO results, perhaps speak to a professional who can point you in the right direction. We’d be happy to answer any questions you have without any obligations, call 01226 720 755.
Keep working on your SEO as a ROI may be closer than you think.