How long does it take for me to see SEO results? This all-too-familiar question among website owners, unfortunately, has no definitive answer. The safest reply would probably be, well, they won’t happen overnight. But why does SEO take so long?
Search engine optimisation results take months to a year before they come. Some say you get to see progress within two weeks. But notable developments are more likely within 6 to 12 months, up to 2 years.
And that’s because several elements like your keyword choices and fiercest rivals affect your SEO strategy. There are also SEO factors, like search engine crawl time, that are beyond your control.
Progress is also dependent on how much time, effort and money you put into your SEO campaign. Add to these is the fact that SEO is not a one-off deal.
SEO is a continuous process that needs to adapt to ever-changing things like market needs and technology.
Don’t be discouraged, though. SEO may need a long time to generate results. But it also brings unique and long-term results no expensive marketing efforts can provide.
So, let us not dwell on the question, why does SEO take so long. Instead, we focus on the crucial aspects that affect your SEO timeline. Understanding these should help you realign your SEO efforts to things that matter most.
1. Number of SEO Issues to Fix
If you have an old website for optimisation, chances are the audit report will identify several errors for fixing. Problems may include 404 errors, 301 redirects, unreliable website hosting and inconsistent optimisation.
Issues on website architecture, target keywords, content and backlink profile may also arise. The types of SEO problems to handle differ among websites. Naturally, the more issues to fix, the longer it takes for positive results to appear.
For example, updating a few links on your sitemap may show developments within a week. However, results from a lot of updates can take a few weeks.
Search engine crawl time is also a key factor. Google bots, in particular, recrawl pages in their own time. They take a while to come, too, considering the number of websites they need to index.
Older websites seem to get results faster, especially those with lots of inbound links. Also, depending on the changes made, it may take a few crawls before bots get to index an entire page.
Still, SEO success does not happen after fixing all these issues. As we’ve mentioned, updating should be continuous. That’s because Google implements algorithm updates every so often. At times, Google will give a heads-up, like the core web vitals update.
But, in most cases, you’ll only pick up details from publications or industry leaders. This factor further stresses the need to improve your website continuously, SEO wise, to succeed.
2. Website Structure
A website consists of several posts and pages. And how you group, categorise and link them make up your website structure.
But how is it relevant to the question, why does SEO take so long? If you have a well-arranged structure, your website is easy to navigate.
Visitors are more likely to stay longer on your site, convert, subscribe, return or share it with others. A well-made site structure also boosts user experience – a crucial ranking factor.
Mobile-friendliness is also another factor that affects user experience. Now that Google is keener to crawl mobile-ready pages, sites with poor mobile experience will likely have slower SEO development.
It is then a must for owners to run their sites through a mobile-friendly test to ensure a steady increase in ranking.
A good site structure also makes it easy for Google bots to index your content. Over time, your website accumulates loads of content and soon becomes cluttered.
Establishing a site structure is your way of telling Google which files are essential. That way, you maximise crawl time and speed up SEO ranking.
And you can do this by reassessing and improving your outdated content. Also, reconsider how you categorise your pages. See to it that no category is twice the size of the rest.
Balancing your site categories ensures that all have equal chances to rank. Lastly, check your internal linking structure. Make sure you are showcasing your best content to Google and your readers.
3. Keyword Difficulty
Keyword difficulty is another factor that answers the question, why does SEO take so long. It’s a measure of how easy or hard it is to rank for a keyword.
You can determine this metric by using a keyword research tool. And there are several elements affecting the ranking difficulty of a search term. Here are some of them:
- Competitors. If your sector or industry has several major players, likely, they are already ranking for the best SEO keywords. Small or new business owners will have to look for less competitive search terms to help them progress faster.
- Domain authority. Websites with higher domain authority naturally have better chances of ranking fast with more difficult keywords. A new site that uses the same search terms will likely take months to top the SERPs.
- Content quality. Finding the right keywords is not enough for SEO, of course. You have to incorporate them into a well-written article or blog content. One that includes headers and has relevant keywords and images.
- Search intent. Your keyword-rich content should also clearly answer user queries. The article should inform, help make a purchasing decision, sell or direct to a specific page.
The key takeaway here is that your choice of keywords and how you use them for your site affects your SEO progress. To rank faster, make sure your keyword selection matches the authority level of your site.
Ideally, look for less competitive search terms with high search volume. And if you are new to the business, go for low-search volume keywords.
After some time, compare your status with your competitors to determine your readiness to take on a different keyword strategy.
Why does SEO take so long? It’s probably because you have strong competitors with SEO experts supporting them.
This fact is significantly applicable to more competitive industries or businesses. For example, competition among law firms or medical websites is greater than, say, their nutrition and fitness counterparts.
That’s because more people are in constant need of the former services than the latter. Stricter competition naturally pushes competing website owners to outperform each other in the SERPs.
And one way to do that is to hire advanced SEO assistance that will speed up their search ranking progress.
If you’re new in a competitive business sector, it will likely take several months to see tangible SEO results.
The SEO race is like a marathon, after all. Runners who have more experience and training support naturally have more chances of winning first place.
Aside from market demand, the number of competitors within your niche also affects your SEO development speed.
If your product or service is exceptionally specific and unique, chances are competition will be low and the SEO pace will be faster.
Moreover, less popular niches will have less competitive keywords, which you can take advantage of through quality content creation.
Competition can surely affect your SEO performance in a huge way. And it only emphasises the significance of including competitor analysis in your strategy.
To help you speed up your progress, make sure you know who you’re up against. That way, your SEO efforts will be well-targeted.
Backlinks are links from another site to your own. These are vital ranking signals for search engines like Google. That’s why they also affect your SEO performance.
Does that mean website owners have to get as many backlinks as possible to rank faster? Technically, yes, but that’s easier said than done.
You see, acquiring backlinks is an arduous process. Authority sites do not just link to anyone, too. And it takes time to build a relationship with them. All these answer our query, why does SEO take so long?
More importantly, it’s not all about quantity. Your effort should focus on obtaining quality links from relevant and credible sources.
How you acquire these quality backlinks are also equally significant. Before, websites owners would resort to black-hat link-building tricks to boost rankings in a flash.
They do this by buying links in bulk from low-authority domains. Now that search engine algorithms are far more sophisticated, unethical linking will only lead to penalties.
So, instead of taking a shortcut, spend time building your network of trusted sources. Then, earn fewer, high-quality links in the process.
A small number of credible links will help you stay in the race than links from irrelevant websites.
After getting precious backlinks, keep in mind that you need to give them time to age and sink into your site. After all, search engines also need time to pick up the signals your newfound backlinks are sending.
6. Domain Age
Domain age pertains to how old your website domain or root URL is. And generally, all things being equal, old domains rank faster than recent ones.
This conclusion somehow answers the question, why does SEO take so long for new websites.
It’s like comparing your office manager and a newly hired employee. Naturally, new employees will have to work hard to get to the top.
Ranking and domain age work the same way. A new domain will have to earn more backlinks and build its content library. That way, it can gain the trust of search engines and, eventually, get “promoted”.
But how can search engines detect domain age? Search engines can determine it through your WHOIS registration data and the date when bots crawled your site first.
Search engines also consider domain expiry dates. Specifically, search engines see domains paid in advance and have years before expiry as legitimate and trustworthy.
Given these conditions, does that mean new websites have a slim chance of getting quick SEO results? Well, there are ways to speed things up.
One is to acquire an expired domain registered a few years back. That way, you can lessen the time it takes for your SEO efforts to kick in.
But if you already have a new domain, the only solution is to keep yourself productive while waiting. That means concentrating on producing high-quality content and gaining backlinks.
Make sure to apply SEO best practices, and, in time, all that hard work will pay off.
7. Google Crawl Time
Why does SEO take so long even after having upgraded content, website structure and backlinks? Well, one likely reason is the indefinite crawl time.
Crawling is where search engines would use their team of spiders or crawlers to assess new and updated content.
The content found during crawling time will then go to the next phase: indexing. Here, webpages, images or videos enter a database, so search engines can quickly retrieve them.
Bots arrange content into piles based on relevance to search queries, which we also call ranking. Now, website owners have no control over this entire process.
Also, the timeframe when crawlers will reach and assess your updated page is indefinite. You and millions of other pages are waiting for these bots, too.
While it is uncontrollable, there are ways to increase your chances of crawlers visiting your site. These include submitting a sitemap and using your robots.txt file properly.
Also, make sure to optimise your pages according to algorithm standards and the latest updates.
Then, wait patiently and check your indexed pages from time to time. You can do this by typing “site:yourdomain.com” on Google.
8. Budget Constraint
Crawl time may be beyond your control. But the resources you put into your SEO campaign are all up to you. And not investing enough time, energy and money in it is relevant to our query why does SEO take so long.
But one thing to keep in mind is that quicker SEO progress is not only about the number of resources you provide. It is also about:
- Quality solutions. There are several SEO tools available out there. Some are free, while others are at premium prices. They are not equal either in terms of results and ease of use. You need to assess each type and identify which suits your business and goals.
- Expertise. Some would resort to doing SEO themselves to save money. Others will have the best SEO company working for them. Having experts will not give you overnight results still. But they can help ensure gradual and steady progress.
How fast SEO results come may vary. But that does not mean they won’t happen for those with a tight budget.
What you can do, however, is to allocate your resources wisely. Start with a balanced mix of SEO services or techniques to achieve a few goals.
Focus on improving user experience and boosting your organic traffic and conversion rate. After which, celebrate small wins by moving into a more complex SEO strategy.
Why does SEO take so long? We now know that a variety of factors affect your performance.
There is no shortcut, quick fix or even a set formula to fast-track SEO progress. After all, each website is unique, we operate in different industries, and our competitors vary.
But while it may take months or years to see results, one thing is sure: best practices will eventually get you there.
A good piece of advice is to keep your eyes on the prize! Make the most of your time by producing high-quality content, engaging in link building and optimising your site. Avoid committing costly mistakes, too.
And when you start seeing improvements, always remember that SEO is an ongoing process and a long-term investment. Technology constantly changes, and new rivals continuously crop up.
So, don’t let your guard down and keep at it!