Is your search engine optimization strategy working for you? If you’re using tried-and-proven SEO techniques but still aren’t seeing the results you want, are you asking yourself how long does SEO take to work? The solution may be simpler than you think. You may just need to sit back and wait a while. Keep in mind that there are more than 1.8 billion websites on the internet. It will take time for your SEO strategy to help you stand out from the competition.

If you’re the impatient type and you want to see your SEO efforts start working right away, you’ll need to change your thinking. It’s important to remember that optimization rarely, if ever, delivers immediate results. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth your time. John Robert Wooden, a renowned American basketball player and coach, once said, “Good things take time, as they should.” In no situation is this more true than in your organic optimization approach. We are going to answer the question, “how long does SEO take to start working?” and explain why building a solid SEO strategy is always worth the time.

How SEO Works

To understand why the SEO timeline takes so long, you first need to know how the popular online marketing technique works. Search engine optimization is the process of getting organic, or free, traffic to your site. It involves many different strategies, including keyword use, HTML code optimization and more.

A good SEO approach takes time to develop and implement. If you rush the process, you’re more likely to make mistakes or inadvertently violate rules. When creating your online marketing strategy, it’s essential to follow best practices so your website doesn’t get flagged. Using “black hat” methods might get you faster results initially, but you’ll eventually get caught and penalized. You’ll also hurt your reputation and lose the trust of your target audience. Shortcuts are never worth it when it comes to creating an effective optimization approach.

What Makes a Good SEO Strategy

On the surface, SEO sounds a little simplistic. You just need to get people to come to your site when they search for specific keywords or terms. How hard could that be? It turns out that SEO is a bit more complicated than many people think. In addition to navigating algorithm updates and changes, there is a lot that goes into a successful SEO approach. Here are the four main “pillars” of SEO that all site owners should keep in mind when developing a marketing strategy:

  1. Content
  2. Technical SEO
  3. Off-site SEO
  4. On-site SEO

Without all of these pieces, your optimization efforts will inevitably fall flat. Here’s what you should know about each.

Content

Most people think of content first when they hear the term “SEO,” and it’s easy to see why. While much of the optimization process goes on behind the scenes, content is front and center. It’s the hook that draws in your audience and gets them to stay. Your content tells your visitors all about you, and — more importantly — what you can do for them. Content is one of the most important aspects of your SEO strategy. All content you create should include keywords that are relevant to your products and services. It should also engage your audience and establish your credibility.

Technical SEO

If you’re not especially tech-savvy, technical SEO may seem overwhelming to you. But don’t worry too much. With a little education and lots of practice, it can become second nature. Here are a few of the tech-related questions you should ask when developing your SEO strategy:

  • Does my site adapt for mobile users?
  • Can a search engine crawl, or explore, my site?
  • Do I have fast page load times?
  • Can my pages be easily indexed?
  • Is my content structured optimally, in a natural hierarchy?
  • Are there pages on my website that are causing index bloat?

Fortunately, if you have any experience with WordPress, you’re already familiar with basic technical SEO factors. For you, the learning curve for technical SEO is much smaller than it is for someone who has never dealt with WordPress. On the other hand, if all of this is way over your head, it may be worth hiring a professional to take care of it for you.

Off-Site SEO

Not all SEO work should happen on your site. You also need to work on off-site SEO if you want to build your authority and improve your web rank. Link building is a technique that involves getting traffic from other, relevant sources. You can do this by getting other websites to link to your website. Make sure you only use websites that are trusted and relevant to what your website promotes. Domain authority is a relative concept because it largely depends on the algorithms tools use to calculate that score, and a low domain authority website doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a spammy or unworthy website to obtain a backlink from. Use your judgment and identify pages that are highly relevant to your website, products, or services, and diversify your backlinking strategy.

On-Site SEO

Your content isn’t the only thing on your website that needs optimization. You also need to consider your page titles, URLs, images, and meta descriptions. Don’t forget to make sure your site provides a good user experience (UX). All these things are essential components of an optimized website. A strong local SEO strategy is also important if you’re a local business trying to appeal to nearby customers, and this will include creating and optimizing your Google My Business profile and prioritizing online review generation.

How Long Does SEO Take To Work and See Results?

Most SEO firms forecast that it will take at least six to nine months to begin seeing the results of your SEO strategy. These are the months you should be very busy developing your approach. Here’s what to expect, month-by-month, for the first six months:

  • Month 1: Research and planning stage
  • Month 2: Technical SEO stage
  • Month 3: Content creation stage
  • Month 4: Continued technical optimization, content creation and link building
  • Month 5: Social media engagement and continued SEO efforts
  • Month 6: Conversion rate optimization (if you receive at least 5,000 visitors per month by now), continued SEO efforts

Generally, after six to nine months you should start seeing the results of your labor. With continued work on your SEO approach, you should continue to see upward growth over the following months and years.

Why It’s Worth the Wait

Now that you know what goes into building a solid SEO strategy, you can probably understand why it takes so long to see results. The next question is whether or not it’s worth it to invest your time and money into something that doesn’t pay off right away. The answer, for most, is a resounding “Yes!” Here’s why.

Once you’ve optimized your content and website, you’ll provide visitors with a better user experience. You’ll also leverage free organic search, which is how most businesses get the majority of their traffic. In the long run, SEO is more cost-effective than other marketing strategies and provides a high SEO ROI.

Develop Your SEO Strategy Today

At Boostability, we provide different SEO solutions for small businesses by getting them to the first page of Google every five minutes. You could be next. You can start by claiming a free website analysis and receive a personalized SEO strategy that will deliver results. Learn more today about growing your small business SEO services to their fullest potential.

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Kristine is the Director of Content with Boostability. She brings a decade's worth of communications strategy work to the company. Kristine has a Masters Degree in Leadership and Communications from Gonzaga University and graduated from BYU with her undergrad in Broadcast Journalism. She's worked in television news, public relations, communications strategy, and marketing for over 10 years. In addition to being a part of the marketing team, Kristine enjoys traveling, sports, and all things nerdy.