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How Long Does SEO Take to Work?

Posted on Jan 4, 2017 11:30:00 AM by Michael Kiel

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One of the most important questions that you should answer before you spend a cent on SEO is: How long does SEO take to work? This is because if you’re not in it for the long-haul, then much like getting healthy, it’s not going to give you the ROI you expect or need. We’ll get to that in a moment.

First, let’s explore the question “How long does SEO take to work?”, because as mentioned, it’s the starting point for your journey into SEO Country, and will largely determine whether your experience is profitable or painful.

How Long Does SEO Take to Work?

The short answer to this question is about a year. But we need to explain what’s meant by “work” – because misunderstandings and misinformation around this is the #1 reason why many businesses have fled the SEO landscape with little to show (or sometimes nothing to show) for their money and time.

Here’s what you need to know: at Leap Clixx, we don’t define the “work” part of “how long does SEO take to work?” as just a matter of seeing improvements in rankings. Indeed, we’ve had numerous cases where we’ve been able to significantly improve our customers’ SEO results in as little as 1-2 months; usually by optimizing on-page elements such as: improving loading speeds, fixing broken links, adding Rich Snippets to search results, establishing 301 (permanent redirect) pages and 404 (not found) pages, and the list goes on.

However, our view isn’t based on the technology or tactics of SEO; it’s based on what our customers care about, which is results and ROI. As such, we define the “work” part of “how long does SEO take to work?” as being about quality traffic and conversions. After all, like any other kind of marketing – online or offline – SEO is a means to an end. The end is more revenues. And it takes about a year or so to achieve a baseline of successful, sustainable results – i.e. quality incoming traffic that ultimately converts to profitable customers. Of course, results occur well before the 1-year mark (in fact we have customers right now that are seeing major gains in 90-120 days). But 1-year is the inflection point. To use health as a metaphor, if everything is done the right way, 1 year is when “getting healthy” becomes “being healthy”.

Why SEO isn’t a Short-Term Project, but a Long Term Program

The biggest and most important reason why SEO isn’t a short-term project – but instead is a long-term program – is because the search engines themselves (e.g. Google) – want it that way. That is, they want businesses to build their SEO profile over time by:

  • Adding quality keyword-optimized content (the highest-ranking sites tend to hand 500+ indexed pages).
  • Constantly publishing an ongoing stream of new content-rich pages (search engines want to see content increase over time vs. a bunch of content published at once and then nothing for weeks or months).
  • Having a domain (or domains) with history. Older domains are valued more by search engines than never ones.
  • Intelligently using internal links to helps visitors connect to relevant content.
  • Having a balanced mix of external links from a variety of sources, including authoritative sites, social media, and so on.
  • Creating an engaging site experience that increases time-on-site and reduces bounce rates.
  • Ensuring that a site is mobile-friendly (i.e. responsive design).

These are just some of the factors that we cover on when we develop our customers’ SEO profile and presence, because as mentioned, this is what search engines focus on. It’s part of their elaborate list of (constantly-changing) criterion.

The 2 Biggest SEO Mistakes Businesses Make

Before wrapping up this exploration of the question “how long does SEO take to work?”, we want to highlight two enormous SEO mistakes that businesses make, so that you can avoid them as you move ahead.

The first mistake is getting misled by smooth-talking “SEO wizards” who promise to take a business to page #1 of Google in a week, a month, or even several months. The mere fact that they’re making this insane promise without knowing what keywords a business wants to rank for, is all the evidence necessary to prove that this story isn’t going to end well.

At best, the SEO wizards will fail to do what they promised, and businesses will be out thousands (or probably tens of thousands) of dollars, plus they’ll be even further behind their competitors who are doing SEO the right away.

At worst, businesses that get roped into these get-ranked-quick schemes find out, to their utter horror, that the SEO wizards used deceitful and unethical (a.k.a. “black hat”) SEO techniques to temporarily inflate results. As soon as Google and the others catch on – and trust us, they WILL catch on – not only will the business immediately lose their ranking, but they’ll be heavily penalized. It can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and take years to get back into Google’s good books after something like this. And if you think “well, we trusted our SEO consultant, can’t you give us a break?” is going to work: think again. Google is merciless.

The second biggest mistake is pulling the plug too early, and un-doing months of solid SEO ground work. Unfortunately, businesses that lose patience find themselves even worse than where they started, because their competitors have surged ahead. And the irony is that all they needed to do, basically, was stay the course.

Learn More

To learn more about how to answer the question “How long does SEO take to work?”, give the Leap Clixx team a call today, or email us to book a free consultation. We will NEVER steer you in the wrong direction, and the advice we share is based on our proven experience serving customers across the country. And if you’re currently working with an SEO consultant and you’d like a second opinion, we do that as well.

For more information on how to use SEO to boost your inbound marketing results, download our FREE eBook:

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Topics: SEO