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You’ve done your research and found search engine optimization (SEO) experts to help bring your website to the top of Google’s search rankings. You did everything correctly, so it should work fast now, right? The tough answer is no. In this blog, we’ll explain exactly why SEO takes so long. We will discuss the process, factors that play into how long it takes to see success, and more. Let’s get started.

How Long Does SEO Take?

If you’re a beginner at SEO and feeling a bit worried about where you spent your marketing dollars, you’re not alone. However, the amount of time it takes to see SEO results depends on what you expect. Do you want:

  • Sustainable, long-term results?
  • More targeted website traffic?
  • Increased revenues from that traffic?
  • Lower ad costs and higher performing ads?

SEO can deliver measurable and significant improvements in these areas. It can support the key performance indicators (KPIs) that matter to the health of your business. But SEO takes time to achieve these things, and businesses experiencing these benefits will tell you, “It’s worth the wait.”

Reasonably speaking, it takes six months for SEO to start working. From there, it takes about 12 months to achieve a positive return on investment (ROI) through these measurable improvements. Depending on where your site stands today, you may also see “movement” by four months if your SEO expert was able to target some of the low-hanging fruit you weren’t previously leveraging.

Anyone who is promising much faster, beware. Google Policy forbids using tactics to “manipulate” the search results. And Google’s advanced algorithm can detect websites that are trying to do so. Google then penalizes the website until it fixes the problems, which can be costly. So how do you rise in the rankings without manipulating the search results? You build your SEO on trust, authority, and customer experience.

Is It Okay to Have Faster Expectations?

Sure — they may just not come in the form you expect. An SEO website is fast, easy-to-navigate, and encourages visitors to explore or buy now, depending on the page goal. This can improve your paid advertising, referral, and social media traffic, and email marketing performance. It also immediately enhances how people experience your website. But other benefits like increased, higher quality traffic take longer from organic search for important reasons. 

Why Does It Take So Long?

Sustainable SEO takes time. It’s more like brand-building than advertising. When you use SEO for your website, you’re branding it as a trusted source of information for your target customer. It takes time for both customers and Google to recognize the value of your website.

There is no getting around that, but understanding what’s happening during those six to 12 months can help you manage SEO expectations and see the small wins along the way. SEO timing depends on many factors and a list of SEO tasks like these:

  1. Run a website audit.
  2. Analyze social signals and put a plan in place to improve them.
  3. Evaluate the link profile and look for areas of improvement, which may involve disavowing harmful links you acquired before you knew better.
  4. Technically optimize the website. Make sure it’s as fast as possible, simplify the navigation, and flatten the site structure so it’s easy for both search engine bots and people to follow.
  5. Evaluate current content quality and performance. 
  6. Improve how your site appears in search results, and make the website more appealing and clickable where it does appear. Add schema markup to add information cards, reviews, etc.
  7. Research the search terms (keywords) your customers use to find a site like yours.
  8. Analyze the competition. What are they doing right? How will you compete?
  9. Create core website content if it doesn’t exist or improve existing content.
  10. Develop a content strategy and create a content calendar. Begin creating people- and SEO-friendly content that users are looking for in search engines. Evaluate that content’s performance to optimize.
  11. Develop a strategy to earn high-quality links without hurting Google policies (outreach, link magnet content, quality guest posting, etc.)
  12. Do local SEO for local, regional businesses. It’s easier to rank a local business locally but requires a local SEO mindset to accomplish.
  13. Focus on building trust with Google by following the rules and showing that you’re adding value to the online community. 

Ultimately, you’re spending this time aligning your goals with Google’s. The search engine’s goal is to show the best search result to a query. Deliver the best results for those queries and a great user experience (UX) at the same time to get SEO results. 

Looking for experts to boost your search rankings and increase conversions, no matter how long it takes? Reach out to Maydragonfly Marketing today to learn about our SEO services!