How long does SEO take to work?

SEO, Simple SEO Podcast, SEO for Beginners


If you’re looking to do SEO on your website or you’ve started, you may wonder how long does SEO take to work? It’s a very common question to ask if you will start investing in a new digital marketing channel. Understanding how long things work, how long it takes to see results, and how to interpret the results to know if your work has worked is critical to growing your business.


Let’s start with how SEO works.


When you start doing SEO on your website, you help Google better understand your site, making it more likely to show it to people searching online. Google doesn’t understand your site completely without your help optimizing the pages on your website for search.


Google looks for insights into a website's content in specific places on every page. When you do SEO on your website, you add a keyword to each area that Google will check. Having the same keyword in each spot where Google looks for clues helps them understand that the page is about that keyword.



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What should you do for SEO?


You want to choose one keyword for your blog post or page that you will optimize (do SEO on). You need to ensure it’s a unique keyword you haven’t used on another page or blog post before because Google will only show your website or blog two times for any single keyword. Using lots of different keywords helps you have more chances to rank in the search results and get traffic.


You will use your keyword in all places where Google will look for clues on your page; these are called optimization elements.


You’ll want to use your keyword in the following places:

  • Title Tag
  • Meta Description
  • URL
  • Header Tags
  • Copy
  • Image file name
  • Image ALT text


Listen to the podcast episode here to learn more.





Once your website is optimized the right way, how long does SEO take to work?


Your SEO program will take time to work. It won’t have immediate results, but if you’ve done your SEO right, you will get results. SEO is a long game. Some factors will impact how long it takes for you to see results.


These factors include:

  • The age of your website
  • Your competition
  • The keywords you are using in your SEO
  • The number of links and type of links to your website
  • How users interact with your website
  • The quality of your content
  • The frequency of your content updates



What does all of this mean to your SEO?


The age of your website plays a role in how long SEO can take to work because websites that have been around longer are often seen as more authoritative by Google. They’ve been around longer, and built more backlinks from other websites, and all of this plays into their domain authority, which estimates how authoritative Google thinks the website is.


Your competition will greatly impact how long it takes for SEO to work. If you have competitors who are doing SEO and are strong, it may take you a bit longer to see results when you first start than if you’re in a niche where your competition isn’t doing SEO yet.


The keywords you’re using will also impact how long SEO takes. The more competitive the keywords you’re targeting, the harder SEO will be. If you’re targeting lower competition keywords, you will likely see results faster than someone trying to target hyper-competitive keywords.


I had a client years ago who wanted to rank #1 for the term engagement rings. It’s hyper-competitive (823,000 searches every month) and was a nearly impossible challenge. I also wanted to rank them in position #1 for engagement rings because their owner offered to “drape me in diamonds” if I got them to that spot. What girl doesn’t want that? 🤣


But they were a small, independent diamond company with one store. Helzberg’s Diamonds ranked #1 for the term engagement rings. Helzberg has hundreds of stores, and its website has been around for years.


This client wasn’t seen as equal to Helzberg’s in Google’s eyes, and because of that, they weren’t going to beat them and rank in position #1. We did get them to the first page, and we ranked in position #1 for other keywords, but never engagement rings because it wasn’t a keyword their brand could rank in position #1 for.


Choosing the right keyword (one that you can rank in position #1 for will help your SEO work a lot better). Today, Blue Nile ranks in position #1. That old client is no longer even on the first page for the term even though it looks like they could potentially rank for the term today – they’re not optimizing for it in the right way anymore, which is unfortunate because 10 years later, it might actually be a good option for them. This also illustrates that the keywords you can rank for will change over time. As you get better at SEO, your website is around longer, and your link portfolio grows, you may be able to rank for more competitive keywords.


The number of links to your website and the type of links you’ve earned will impact your SEO timeline, too. Links are a major ranking factor for Google. In fact, your content and the links to your site have been the top 2 ranking factors for SEO for over a decade. You need to work to earn good links. Don’t ever buy links from someone; Google does not want you to do that. Link building is all about link earning these days and has been for more than 10 years now.


How users interact with your website is another factor in how long SEO takes to work. You won't rank as high if your website has a poor user experience. If people struggle to find what they’re looking for on your website, the navigation is wonky, or they come, look at one page, and leave quickly because they can’t find what they need or want, then you’re going to have less success with SEO because you don’t have a good user experience. Websites with a poor user experience are not ones that Google wants to send lots of traffic to. If you’re unsure how people interact with your website, check your Google Analytics account and see how much time they’re spending on your site, your bounce rate, and how many pages of content they’re reading. Engagement metrics will help you understand whether your site is good or bad from a user’s perspective. You want a bounce rate below 60%, an average time on site above 1:00, and pages per visit over 1.0 – the higher, the better.


The quality of your content is critical to your website’s overall SEO success. Your visitors want good content that helps them make decisions or learn about their interests. Google wants your content to help visitors and provide value. Short blog posts or pages that tell visitors almost nothing about your business are not seen as a good user experience and won’t rank as high as ones that provide value. It’s important to consider what the reader wants to know when searching for information on a specific subject. You should anticipate their questions and provide the information they’ll find helpful. Google’s latest big algorithm update in 2022 was the Helpful Content update, which focuses on ensuring the content ranking at the top of the search results is truly helpful to a searcher. They were trying to remove listicles and articles that don’t tell you much from the results.


Google also wants content to be updated regularly and wants to have new content to share with searchers. Google created Query Deserves Freshness years ago to essentially help provide new or updated answers to queries. Google doesn’t want to show searchers outdated information or old websites. This doesn’t mean you can’t keep content on your website for years; it simply means you need to ensure your content is still current and update it on an ongoing basis for the best results. I personally update my older blog posts once a year or so, and I update them based on priority order.


So, how long will SEO take to work?


With all this said, SEO will take, on average, 6-12 months to start to work and 12-24 months to see strong results. SEO takes time. You need time for Google to find your new content, index it, and show it to people. Your website won’t likely hit positions 1, 2, or 3 quickly unless you’ve found a keyword with no competition yet.


SEO generally works because your content gets indexed, your website starts to rank for the keyword you’ve optimized for, and, in time, your website moves higher in the search engine rankings for that keyword. As you move higher, you get more organic traffic to your website.


You can learn more about how to know if your SEO program is working in this blog post.


SEO takes time to work, but it’s a powerful marketing channel that can change everything for your business if you do it correctly. Start by choosing a keyword your website can rank for and follow the steps to optimize your page for that keyword. Do what you’re supposed to do the right way, and you will start to get results.


If you’re ready to get started with SEO today, sign up for my free class and learn how to ensure that your work gets results for your business.

 how long does seo take to work

Full Podcast Epiosode Trasncript


Hi, and welcome back to the Simple SEO Content podcast, where today, I'm going to answer the question how long does SEO take to work? So, if you've been trying to do SEO for a while, you may be starting to wonder how this all works in the world and how long it takes. Maybe you've heard that it can take a little while because it can. So today, I want to break down for you how it works, what components go into it, and approximately how long it takes. I'm also going to help you with what to do to make sure that you're getting results. So you're not just sitting there waiting for results that will never come because you've made a mistake; that would be the worst thing you could do. So join me in today's episode, and we're going to go through this, and you're going to learn. How long it takes for SEO to work.

How does SEO work? 

Let's start with step number one, which is how SEO works. So SEO is search engine optimization. It is a process that we go through to help Google better understand what our websites are about when we optimize our websites for Google so that they can better understand them. Then, we will likely start to see an increase in our keyword rankings if we've chosen the appropriate keywords. And we're going to talk about that in step number two. But for step number one, I want you to understand how it works. So when you optimize for a keyword, you should begin to see your website move up in the rankings, meaning your website should show higher in Google search results, closer to the top of the page for that keyword over time. Now, if you're checking this yourself, you want to make sure that you're checking in an incognito browser window because if you're checking in your regular Google search window, you're going to get personalized results, which are going to skew the results for you. And you're going to think that your website ranks higher than it does. I had this happen with a student recently, and the website was showing up in position number two for them but position 19 for me when using a browser that had not been to their website multiple times. So make sure you're using an incognito window or even better, you're using a keyword ranking tool that keeps track of it for you and let you know how you're ranking.

What happens when your SEO is working?

So, generally, as you start to see your ranking increase, you will see additional organic traffic coming to your website. In your Google Analytics account, you'll be able to see which channel is sending your traffic. Organic will start sending more traffic to the page associated with the keyword ranking higher in Google. So, if your homepage is the page that's ranking higher, you should start to see additional traffic to your homepage from the organic traffic channel. If it's a blog post that's ranking higher, thanks to your search engine optimization, then you should begin to see additional traffic to that blog post. If you have optimized your website well for conversion, you should, at this point, begin to get more leads and sales from the additional traffic that's coming to your website from organic search or from the keywords that are ranking higher in Google.

The 3 Steps SEO Success Process

So it's a three-step process. Step number one is to optimize for a keyword, and the keyword starts to move further up the sales funnel. Step number two is that as that keyword is higher in the search results, more people see it, click through, and come to your website, so you see an increase in organic traffic. Step number three is to begin to convert more sales or leads through your website. Thanks to that, additional traffic is now coming in, Which is how SEO works. 

Why do we need to do SEO?

So why do we need to do SEO if we want organic traffic? If we don't do search engine optimization, we're not going to get the amount of organic traffic that we could potentially get from Google because Google doesn't fully understand what our website is about. They really need our help. There were certain elements that Google looks for on every blog, post, or every website page to understand what that particular page is about.

When Google sees a keyword in each of those elements, it's like another check box to tell them this page is about this item. Check, check, check, check, check. I've seen this same word here xix times. This is a great page about this keyword. So, you have to optimize your page for Google to understand what it is about.

Choosing the right SEO keyword for your page

The most important thing to do here is to make sure you're choosing a keyword that your website or blog can rank high for on Google. That keyword will depend upon your website's domain authority, your niche, and its competitiveness, meaning the perfect ideal keyword will be different for everyone. Every site within the same niche will not necessarily have the exact same perfect ideal keyword because different ranking factors will impact your website's ability to rank for that keyword. 

You really want to get a handle on how you choose the right keywords because they are at the core of everything you do from an SEO standpoint, and choosing the right keyword is critical. You want to choose the keyword that has the highest search demand or search volume, meaning the most people are searching for it of the keywords you've considered.

You also want to make sure your website or blog has a really strong chance of ranking on pages one and four because websites and blogs that are on page two don't get traffic. 99.7% of all search traffic only goes to page one; you have to be on page one if you want to get organic traffic. Now, if you're buying traffic, you've got a gigantic ad budget. You don't have to worry about this, but if you're trying to build your business with organic strategies and free traffic, you need to get really good at choosing keywords. I want you to listen to the podcast episode; everything you know about SEO keywords is wrong; here's what's right because that's a deep dive into SEO keywords and is going to teach you what you need to do differently. I'll link that in the show notes so you have it there for reference. Make sure you listen to that one.

How to do SEO on your website

So now, what do we do on your page? So you've got a keyword. You're going to choose one keyword for your blog post or your website page. One keyword. You're going to verify that you can rank for that keyword. That means you're going to use your keyword research tool to look for a term that's likely going to be longtail, that's something that's got three to five words, maybe even six or seven, that all kind of connect together to make one longer keyword phrase. It is generally going to have less search volume. Don't worry about that because you can still drive traffic and make money, even on lower search volume terms, which are going to be less competitive and a little easier to rank. And they're going to be a better opportunity for small business owners.

So you're going to use that keyword. You're gonna use it in all of the elements that Google is going to look for. So that means your title tag, meta description, copy, header tags, image, file names, image alt text, and all the places that Google is going to look. If you don't yet have my SEO Content Quick Start Guide, do yourself a favor and grab it from the link in the show notes ( or visit the freebies page on the website ( Get that today because it goes through all of this, and it includes a checklist that you can mark off to make sure you've done the right SEO for your page so that you get results. So get that. You have it as a reference because it has all of the rules associated with each of these items that Google is going to look for in each of these places. Google's going to look for a keyword. There are very specific rules for some of them, and I want you to make sure that you get them right.

How long does SEO take?

And so, what is a realistic timeframe? So you're doing your on-page optimization, meaning you're creating content that helps your ideal customer, that targets a keyword they use, that your website can rank for. You're optimizing your content for Google. You're never writing for Google. You're writing for your ideal customer, and you're optimizing for Google. You're also working to build your website's domain authority, meaning you're working to build links to your website. Don't ever buy them. I know you get emails. I know people offer you this DA website and that, and you may or may not understand what all of it means. And that's okay. What I want you to know is do not buy links. You need to earn them. You want to earn links from other sites that are similar to yours and one of the best ways to earn links is by blogging and creating great content that people find helpful because they naturally want to click through and link to that content, which helps you boost your domain authority. This, in time, makes it easier for you to rank for more competitive keywords because Google sees you as a more authoritative website within your niche. It's a great thing.

So, make sure you're working to create content that people are going to want to link to, and that you're creating content that is helpful and provides value. You're sharing it on social media so that more people find it because the more people find you, the more likely they are to link to you and share your content for you, which is going to help you in the long run. So, if you're doing everything right, how long is it going to take? 

So, search engine optimization is not an overnight marketing channel. It is a longer-term strategy. We will generally see some quick wins. You may see keywords start to rise in the search rankings in as little as three months. I've had it happen in four weeks when it was a keyword that really did not have much in the way of competition. However, in general, it's going to take at least six months for it to really start to increase in the search results. Around that one-year mark is when we generally see it really start to take off.

Growing with SEO

As we have more optimized content on our website, we're able to start to be more authoritative in Google's eyes. They trust us more because we have better content. We're consistent. People are engaging with it, and they like our content. They're not just coming and visiting the site once and bouncing away and never coming back. They're not just spending 10 seconds on the site and leaving; they're coming. They're engaging. Those engagement metrics are something that Google looks at. They want to see your bounce rate between 50 and 60%. They want to see your average time on site over a minute. They want to see people consuming multiple pieces of content. They want to see people clicking through to your website, even just in the search results; all of that is going to impact how high they rank your website and how quickly you can move up the search engine results.

It's really important that you keep focused on your ideal customer at all times, providing value to them and really helping to make sure that they have a good user experience on your website because that is going to significantly impact how your search engine optimization works. Once we see everything working, it's usually in that 12 to 24-month period when we really see big results from SEO. So it is a longer-term investment. You'll see some quick wins. You'll start to see a few keywords move, but it's going to take a while.

Getting to Page 1 on Google with SEO

Realistically, it's going to take a while to get to page one. It's a long-term process, but once you get there, you start to get the traffic, and you convert that traffic on your website; everything can change for your business, and everything will change. As you build your authority and you do your SEO the right way for longer and longer, the process actually speeds up a bit because you become a more authoritative website and Google eyes. They trust you, they know you, they're more likely to want to show your content to new people. The algorithm gets to know you. That's really what you're doing the first 12 to 24 months. You're warming up the algorithm, and you're getting to know Google. It's the dating period. You're getting to know Google. They're finding out that you're not a flake. You're going to be here. You're going to be around long-term, and you're a really good user experience. Google wants to show websites with great user experiences to their searchers because you have to remember the searcher is Google's customer, not your customer, until they make the decision to click through and come to your website and then interact with your content.

So, you really have to build trust with Google, and that does take time. What's amazing is once you get to that point, you're in maintenance, and it lasts and lasts and lasts; your search rankings and search results can last for years; you can be in position one, two, or three for years to come and drive traffic from the blog post that you wrote five years ago, along with the blog posts that you're going to write next week. And you can have hundreds of blog posts that drive traffic to your website every single day and make a difference for your business.

Now, I'm going to do a podcast episode in a couple of weeks, all about refreshing your content and how frequently you should be updating your search engine optimization. So, be sure to stay tuned and watch for that one because that's going to be your next step. This is how we get you there. How long is it going to take? The next step is to understand how frequently we update or refresh because we don't want to do it too often, nor do we want to do it not frequently enough. It's very much a Goldilocks scenario when it comes to SEO, and I want to make it easy for you to understand so that you get results.

So, for now, my friend, stay consistent. Create one piece of content each week. But use SEO. So do keyword research before you write; find a keyword that your ideal customer is using that ties to your products or services that you have a good chance of ranking for, and create content for your customer that is super helpful, very valuable, really great content for them and then optimize for Google.

That will help you get your SEO working and make it a little bit easier for you to grow your business with organic traffic. If you have any questions, you can message me. Make sure you get the SEO content quick start guide and take the free SEO 101 class.  Both of those are available at They're there to help you learn. All right, I'll see you next week.