How Long Does SEO Take?

How Long Does SEO Take?

When people talk about search optimization, they often wonder if it is closer to science, art, or magic. Such inquiries arise because the process is influenced by many factors. It is nonlinear, and therefore, not easily predictable. This leads to the question asked by owners of a site, “How long does SEO take?”

At first, this seems to be quite an easy question. However, there is no actual clear reply to it. The reason for this is the absence of understanding how search optimization works and how difficult it is to forecast expected results. If the question implies, “How long does SEO take to see results?” then the response will depend on a variety of factors. If the question asks the time needed to become number one in a search result, the response is completely different. It is crucial to understand that forecasts can be based only on dynamically changing elements. No one can say for sure, “In a year, I guarantee that you are going to number one in the search result.”

Lots of people do not understand that search optimization is a dynamic process. One can say that the SEO trend of 2020 is, if you are not permanently changing, you will lose. Therefore, magic wands to reach the top in search results do not exist anymore. The same refers to the response to more complicated questions. The truth is, this is painstaking and long-term work.

Trying to roughly answer the question, after changes are introduced by an optimizator, the change in positions can be expected in 4-6 months. Once again, these figures are subject to alter contingent on many factors.

So, let’s consider in detail why it works in this way, which milestones can be set for the expected results, and what influences the change of positions in search results.

Why Does SEO Take So Long?

Let’s begin with the most important question – why is there no more easy recipe to reach top results like there used to be 10-15 years ago? The thing is that the field of WEB is developing very fast. Competition in it develops at the same fast pace. At the stage of SEO establishment, there were lots of gray and black guidelines to become the leader in search results quickly. Now, these easy step-by-step guides are made impossible by advanced search algorithms.

At the end of the 90s and beginning of the two-thousands, it was possible to spam a homepage with keywords and buy hundreds of links that would increase your ranking. Your site could appear at the top of people’s search results the next day.

Now, Google intends to place only sites that are the most organic, relevant, and useful for users on the top. Their search algorithms are developed to ensure this purpose.

For this reason, the process of a website’s SEO optimization is long. Under the perfect conditions, it should never end. After a resource reaches top positions, they can be lost if no site optimization will be carried out later. Ranking factors are permanently changing, so, to catch up on the trends, the site has to change all the time. You should never quit if you want to be the best.

In review, SEO takes time for the following reasons:

  1. Ranking factors are permanently changing.
  2. Search algorithms “disable” the possibility of reaching the top of the search results quickly and easily (PENGUIN, PANDA, BERT).
  3. The creation of high-quality relevant content requires a lot of time.

What Influences the Dynamics of Site Positions? 

It is clear that there are no precise time periods for changing positions after a site update, as described above. Some changes can be noticed in several weeks or months. Sometimes, it will take almost half a year to see any visible change. In the case of correctly executed optimization though, a specialist can usually forecast these terms within a certain range. Why not precisely? There is a range of basic factors that have an impact on the positions’ dynamics. Let’s consider them in detail.

Business Peculiarities that Influence Promotion

The speed of getting to the first page of a search result depends on the individual peculiarities of a business. For instance, the promotion of a large-scale Internet shop and of a culinary blog will have completely different strategies. What are the business peculiarities that will influence SEO?

  1. Theme: The thing is that in different niches, the level of competition is different, which directly impacts the speed of promotion. In popular categories, like real estate or finance, the promotion will be slow. In narrowly specialized ones, let’s say, the sale of fire alarms, the promotion will be way faster. In some niches, all of the other sites are beginners, and it is easy to compete with them. In other niches, there are a lot of authoritative sites with solid reputations who have been working for many years in the market. In the latter case, it is going to be harder and take more time.
  2. Peculiarities of the site business-architecture: This is about the content blog or an e-commerce retailer. Their promotion has a different strategy and approach.
  3. Geolocation: The audience at which a site is targeted is important. Is this a local small retailer (service) or is this a business entity working all over the country or world? For instance, the site promotion for a small local pizzeria in Fort Myers, Florida, will be different from the promotion of Boston Pizza that operates in dozens of countries.

Technical Characteristics of a Site

Now let’s consider how technical characteristics of a site influence its promotion.

  1. Technical SEO: This is an important component of project promotion. The validity of code, adaptive design of pages, and speed of loading are all required to reach high ranks in a search result. Only after the elimination of all technical issues, it is worth to proceed to promotion by means of content, links, etc.
  2. Domain Zone: Approaches of SEO optimization are different depending on the domain zone – regional or global, in which the business works.
  3. Quality and History of the Domain: The availability of penalties applied to a domain name can influence the speed of ranking change in the search result.

Keywords and Phrases

The speed of a site’s page promotion largely depends on keywords and phrases that a site should use to get to the top of its search results. Competitiveness and frequency of the words directly influence the speed of reaching the top ranks. General and high-frequency key phrases, like “buy a smartphone,” are highly competitive. All the top search results are occupied by giant sites that are too strong to be moved from their positions. If you are going to promote your resource with such keywords, it is better to plan your budget accordingly.

For instance, upon the request salad recipe, on the first SERP page, there are old and authoritative resources. That is why such a keyword should be promoted together with medium and low-frequency ones.

Low-frequency, or narrowly specialized requests, for example, “short leather dog-lead,” have much less competition. With such key phrases, a properly selected strategy, and realistic optimization goals, the obstacles to reaching top ranks in search results are considerably lower.


Among SEO-optimization specialists, there is a popular saying – “content is your friend.” Many of them place it at the top of all of the aspects that influence a site’s success. This is because the most complicated google algorithms year-by-year learn how to recognize quality and relevant content. It has to be organic and have one intention – to be useful and interesting to a user.

That is why the quality of content influences the terms of search result rank growth for a certain resource, be it an informational resource or e-commerce. If you optimize a fly page or write a beneficial blog article, every legitimate action will influence your ranking.

Popular Mistakes While Trying to Speed Up SEO

Webmasters, websites’ owners, and SEO contractors alike often make mistakes in optimization. This most commonly happens if an owner wants to reach top positions at an unrealistic speed. Let’s consider the most popular mistakes.

  1. Using blackhat means of promotion. Links from spam or low-quality resources, mass buying of links, manipulation, and over-spamming with keywords may lead to penalties from the search system. 
  2. Insufficient attention to SEO tools such as social networks, collaboration with opinion leaders, etc.
  3. Simplified audit of the site. Analysis and research are key promotion tools.
  4. After improving the positions of the site, discontinuation of the optimization process. It is necessary to remember that even if you are at the top, your competitors won’t stop improving their pages. Search results tend to change.

It is important to understand that the question “How long does it take for SEO to update?” is quite ambiguous. That being said, it can still lead to plenty of useful conclusions and practical recommendations. It shows that the process of optimization is multilateral, virtuous, and if done correctly, endless. This process can be compared to sports – one who is permanently training will win the Olympic Games. The one who has stopped training after victory in a championship will never reach these heights. With a proper approach to SEO, improvement of a site ranking is achievable.

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SeoQuake content manager