How long does SEO take to work?

It’s a question we get asked as an SEO agency regularly. When are we going to see results? When will we start to rank? When will traffic increase? And the answer is – as with many things in SEO – “it depends”. SEO isn’t a fixed, one-size-fits-all tactic. If you’re talking from when the first SEO actions are taken, then the first results would usually be within two weeks.

But there are a few factors we look at and approaches to SEO that can give you a good idea of how long it takes for SEO to kick in.

Define ‘work’?

When we talk about SEO working, what most people mean is that your site starts to rank in search engines – usually Google.

But within this simple metric, there is a lot to consider. And to be honest, ranking is just the first step.

  • What are you ranking for?This could be the most important ranking factor – it’s not just about getting any old keywords ranking. It’s about getting the most valuable – for you – ranking. Yes, it’s great to get high volume keywords ranking but these often have a lower conversion rate. Consider the intent behind someone searching for ‘loft conversions’, which has good search volume, to ‘cost of dormer loft conversions’. The intent of first keyword is much broader than the second.
  • Ranking position: Once you’ve got those money driving terms ranking, you need to consider where they are ranking – as this makes a big difference to click through rate (CTR). Are you ranking on page 1, in position 1, for a featured snippet or with an image? Each of these has a different CTR.
  • Size of movement: Are you classing an SEO result as moving a single place in the rankings? Or is the result a more specific target, such getting a set number of primary keywords on to page one of Google?
  • Secondary impacts: With an SEO action the impact is often felt in three ways – on the page you’ve worked on, across the wider site, and on linked to pages. So, for informational content, you might see the initial blog page ranking first, then any product or service pages that are directly linked to, then the wider site as you increase the relevancy for the topic cluster you’re focusing on.

These are the main considerations – but there are dozens of ways to measure and report on these such as:

  • Keyword rankings: Where individual keywords are ranking in Google.
  • Visibility: How visible is your brand for a set of tracked keywords
  • Share of voice: Similar to visibility but based on actual search volume allowing us to better benchmark yourself against competitors
  • Impressions: A Google Search Console (GSC) metric that shows if you’re ranking somewhere for searched terms.
  • Clicks: Another GSC metric, this time it measures every time someone clicks on your site. You can track this for specific search terms.
  • Users: People who visit your site whether they be new or returning users.
  • Conversions: Anyone who visits your sites and carries out a preferred action (contact, buy, download a form etc)
  • Revenue and Sales: What really matters – how many sales you’ve made and how much revenue you earn.
  • Just Organic: Traffic can come from a variety of sources. SEO tends to deal with organic traffic, as opposed to paid, direct or referral.

At Edge45, we are clear as to our SEO targets. We will sit down with each client, give them a picture of where they are now, where the opportunity is, and our tactics and timeline on how to get them to an agreed target.

Steps to an SEO strategy

As we’ve discussed, SEO isn’t one thing. It’s a series of tools, techniques and actions that combine to help your website rank better. And while every SEO agency has its own approach to SEO, there’s a rough structure when it comes to an SEO strategy. Here’s how we’ve been doing it at Edge45 for the past decade or so:

  1. Tracking set up: It’s hard to know how successful your SEO strategy is if you’re not tracking it. Tracking can be done through several tools from Google Analytics for traffic and conversion traffic to keyword tools like SEMRush and Ahrefs, that can help you track your preferred keywords.
  2. Deep dive and audits: While we’re setting up your traffic we’ll do our deep dive. This involves a series of highly detailed technical seo audits looking at your technical SEO, website content and competitors. This helps us to create an SEO strategy that will get you ranking fast.
  3. Technical Solutions: Once we’re up and running, we’ll look at technical fixes. These can be everything from improving site speed to fixing duplicate H1s or improving your back link profile.
  4. Website structure: If it’s needed, we will look at your website structure, URL structure, website hierarchy, and navigation set up. This helps both users to better navigate your website and improves crawl efficiencies, allowing search engines to find and index all your important pages.
  5. Content optimisations: We like to work with what you have so we’ll optimise your content to make sure it’s the best it can be for your users and so that Google can crawl it and discover the most relevant content.
  6. Content creation: We can then start to plug the content gaps with new content. This could be creating new service pages, adding content on to category pages or developing your blog to target people earlier in their search journey.
  7. PR and outreach: Once your website is technically sound and your content providing high levels of relevancy, we can start to put you in front of new audiences with digital outreach.


What else impacts the speed of SEO results?

While it’d be great if we did all of the above and then the money started pouring in, there’s a lot of outside factors that can impact how SEO starts to take effect.

  • Current state of website: If we’re working with a site that just needs a few tweaks, these actions can have an impact right away. If we’re starting with a blank slate, it can take longer. You also need to consider the current sites quality, structure, relevance, and history. A brand-new website takes longer to rank than an established one. Likewise, if you’re working with a recognised brand with lots of external signals (reviews, news stories, social posts) showing how good they are, it’ll be faster to rank than one with none of that.
  • Resources: SEO is work. And like any work, the more you do, the faster you get results. If you’ve got the resources to fast track hundreds of pages of content and technical SEO fixes, you’re going to see results faster.
  • Strategy: It’s fine having resources, but if you’re not putting them into the right places then it’ll take longer for your SEO strategy to work. At Edge45, we make sure our strategy is focused on getting the key money pages ranking and converting fast.
  • Competitors: SEO doesn’t work in a vacuum. You’re always up against competitors – many of who will be carrying out their own SEO work. If they’re good at it or have more resources, then it can take longer to rank.
  • Size of site: A larger size – one with millions of pages, for example – can take a long time to crawl. Especially if it has pages that aren’t currently indexed. If you’re posting a blog to such as site and expecting it to be indexed first, you might need to wait.


How long does it take for SEO to take effect?

Now we’ve laid out what needs to be done and how to do it, you can see that there are lots of reasons why it’s hard to give an exact timing of how long it takes SEO to work. For example, we tend to spend the first few weeks carrying out audits and developing a strong, long-term strategy. This might mean the actual work doesn’t start until the end of month one of an SEO contract.

On average, we can say you’ll start to see your site ranking for new keywords or see improved keyword ranking within four weeks of our work going live. But, as we’ve said, that depends on a lot of factors.

Here we look at how long specific SEO strategies can take to work:

  1. Technical fixes: Once the first technical fixes go live, you could start to see results within days. But these won’t be huge results – you might see pages jump a handful of ranking places up as we add in better Titles or improve internal linking.
  2. Website restructure: Restructuring your site is vital for SEO performance, providing a clearer site hierarchy so Google can see which pages are most important. However, if you’ve got a large site with many pages and sections, it could take weeks or even months for the full impact to be noticed.
  3. Content optimisations: As with technical changes, you might see SEO results from content optimisations within a week. But the full impact can take months.
  4. Content creation: While content optimisation can have quick results, which is why we tend to prioritise this as an SEO action, it can take longer for content creation to kick in. Firstly, it needs to be indexed, which usually takes a day or two when submitted through Google Search Console. After that it can take weeks – even months – for the results to fully bed in. This is why it’s important to have a content calendar and get seasonal content live early.
  5. PR and outreach: Here is where it often gets harder to measure the impact. With digital PR and outreach, you’re looking to measure back links, brand mentions and referring domains. However, that actual impact on your results is harder to measure. PR and outreach can have huge, long-lasting impact on your brand and website – but it can take time and is harder to show direct correlation between the work done and the end results.

If you want to get your SEO strategy going now and see users start to increase, contact Edge45 today. The sooner you do, the faster you’ll start to see results.