On average, it takes 6-12 months for businesses to see results from SEO (search engine optimization) efforts. However, there are many factors to consider when evaluating your strategy.

John Robert Wooden, a renowned American basketball player and coach, once said, “Good things take time, as they should.” This statement remains true in your organic SEO approach.

In this article, we are going to answer the question, “how long does SEO take?” We’ll also explain why developing a solid SEO strategy is always worth the time. Let’s get started!

Table of Contents

How SEO Works (And Why it Takes Time)

To understand why SEO takes time, you first need to know how it works. SEO is the process of improving elements of your website to improve search engine rankings and traffic. It involves many different strategies, including keyword optimization, link building, and more.

Search engines like Google look at two things when evaluating a website and deciding where to rank it – relevance and trust.

Relevance takes into account the quality of content on a website and the coding behind the scenes. Building relevance means optimizing the code, and making sure the content accurately represents the business and the brand. 

Trust refers to how many other websites on the internet refer back to a single site. If a large number of high-quality sites point back to it, the more trustworthy the site becomes. If the content satisfies the searcher’s intent, then the Google algorithm will start to trust it more and move it up in the rankings.

seo quote

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 SEO strategy, it’s essential to follow best practices so your website doesn’t get flagged.

How Long Does SEO Take? 3 Factors that Affect SEO Success

1. Web Page History

Did you know the history of your website plays a role in how long it takes your SEO strategy to perform? Search engines look at the historical data of your website to determine its E-E-A-T (experience, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness). These guidelines play a key part in search engines’ decisions of whether or not to display it in its search results.

If your website has a long and successful track record, then you will likely be rewarded with higher rankings on search results. Conversely, if your website has a poor history, you may find yourself penalized due to having outdated content or strategies that are no longer effective. Consider these elements when evaluating your website’s history:

  • Content: The written copy (text) on your website and its helpfulness to both readers and search engines.
  • Domain Authority: Not only the age of the domain name, but the value that it holds within online communities.
  • Backlink Portfolio: Falling under domain authority, the number of backlinks on other websites that link back to your domain.

2. Online Competition

The amount of competition is another important factor to consider when it comes to how long SEO takes. From an SEO perspective, “Competition” refers to how many businesses (or websites) want to rank at the top of search engines. When there is high competition in a particular market, it can take more time or resources to rank high on the search results.

For example, a plumber in a small town will face less competition than an ecommerce clothing store. In this scenario, the plumbing company might be the only plumbing company in the town trying to grab the top spot of the search results. Meanwhile, there are thousands of different ecommerce clothing stores fighting for the top results, creating more competition.

This means it may only take the plumbing company a few months to see results from SEO. In contrast, it could take upwards of 12 months (or more) for the ecommerce company to start seeing results.

3. Resources

SEO is a process that takes time and effort to be effective. The amount of time it takes to see results can vary depending on the resources available. Having the right resources at your company’s disposal can make a big difference in how quickly SEO efforts take shape.

With enough funding and personnel, more comprehensive techniques can be implemented. These techniques include keyword research, content creation, and link building initiatives.

Without the necessary resources or budget, time frames become longer for an SEO campaign. In addition, If there is no strategy or plan in place for how to use those resources most effectively, any progress made will likely not last long-term. Ultimately, having the right resources and budget available is essential for successful SEO implementation.

SEO Campaign Timeline

Most digital marketing agencies forecast businesses can expect to see results from SEO starting at the 6-12 month mark. Here is a simple breakdown to showcase what happens within the first 12 months of an SEO campaign strategy.

seo timeline graphic to answer "how long does seo take"

Month 1: Pre-Audit, Keyword Research, and Planning

After a business begins SEO, the initial objectives typically include a pre-audit, performing keyword research and making a plan. The pre-audit includes analyzing the business website to determine their current SEO performance. Keyword research takes place to ensure the best keywords are selected. Once this is completed, a plan is formulated to provide the structure of the campaign.

Month 2: Onsite Optimization and Technical SEO Improvements

Based on the information found in the pre-audit and keyword research, it’s time to kick things in gear. Within the first couple of months, there should be significant improvements made to the technical and user aspects of the website. This creates a solid foundation for the campaign to build from. Implementing keywords in specific areas of the website is vital for the target keywords to improve in rankings.

Months 3-6: Link Building, Content Optimization, Local Profile Development

Once the onsite and technical aspects of the website are in place, it’s time to expand the strategy to new areas. Objectives such as link building, content creation, and local profile development will help keywords make the jump to the top results. A well-rounded SEO strategy is critical, as search engines (like Google) look at each of these factors.

Months 6-12: Stabilize Rankings and Re-Evaluate

Within the 6-12 month timeline, you should start expecting to see rankings significantly higher and results happening. Results could mean anything from more website traffic, to increased in-person visits, to overall better online visibility. Once rankings stabilize on the first page for a couple of months, re-evaluate.

Re-evaluating means making the decision of what new keywords (or locations) should be targeted next. The pre-audit, keyword research, and planning process should start again to bring in the best results for your strategy.

With continued work on your SEO approach, you should continue to see upward growth. Although it takes time, the investment creates a high ROI. This is due to how long your site will stay at the top of organic search results – visible to your potential customers. Reach out to our partner team today to learn how you can implement this approach in your business model.

4 Strategies to Help Your SEO Campaign Succeed

Here are four key strategies of SEO that all site owners should keep in mind when developing their online marketing strategy:

  • Content
  • On-site SEO
  • Technical SEO
  • Off-site SEO

Without all of these pieces, your optimization efforts may not perform as well. Here’s what you should know about each.

1. 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 your business, 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. Perform a content audit to find areas of improvement!

2. On-Site SEO

Your content isn’t the only thing on your website that needs optimization. You also need to consider your metadata, which includes page titles, URLs, images, and meta descriptions. Include the target keyword within those areas of the website for the best results. When you make those optimizations, don’t forget to make sure your site provides a natural user experience.

Along with the metadata of an optimized website, a strong local SEO strategy is also important. If you’re a local business trying to appeal to nearby customers, this will include creating and optimizing your Google Business Profile. This goes hand in hand with prioritizing online review generation. Positive business reviews means better search engine rankings and an improved online reputation!

3. 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. In addition, you can learn more about technical SEO issues and how to fix them. 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.

4. 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 site rankings. The most important strategy within off-site SEO is link building.

Link building is a technique that involves gathering links that point back to your website domain from other relevant websites. Make sure you only use websites that are trusted and relevant to what your website promotes. Identify pages that are highly relevant to your business to solidify your link building strategy.

Why is SEO Worth the Wait?

Now that you know what goes into building a solid SEO strategy, you can probably understand why it takes months to start seeing results. We hope this article helped you answer the question, “how long does SEO take?” The next question is whether it’s worth it to invest in SEO. The answer 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 organic traffic. In the long run, SEO is more cost-effective than other marketing strategies and provides a high ROI.

Develop Your SEO Strategy Today

Here at Boostability, we understand that SEO takes time and effort. As the #1 white label SEO reseller worldwide, our efforts help a small business reach the top 10 results of Google every 5 minutes. 

If you’re an agency or media company looking to expand your product offering, our SEO partner program will fit in seamlessly with your strategy. To increase your revenue, reach out to our partner team today!



Kristine is the Director of Marketing at 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.