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How Long Does SEO Take to Work? (And How to Grow)

How long does SEO take to work?

Search traffic can be massively profitable and scalable. However, it does take time to build. And today, you’ll learn how long your SEO will take to work – and the best steps to speed it up. 

Want to learn more?

Read on. 

We’ll cover…

How long does it take for SEO to work?

SEO takes around 4-12 months to work for most businesses.

However, exact estimates are difficult because SEO depends on a lot of factors. 

If you use low-competition keywords (AKA keywords that are relatively easy to rank for) and create high-quality content, you could see results faster.

For example, the SEO agency I co-own, Zalstrom, works with small businesses new to SEO and we typically see results within 3-6 months.

But, it depends on things like how new your business is, your budget, and your industry. That said, there are ways to improve how fast you see results. 

How? Let’s talk about the factors that can slow down or speed up your SEO progress.

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Why does SEO take so long?

Your SEO results come down to one thing: 

Does Google think that your website is the best one?

It takes time to show Google your website should rank high because it helps Google users find better and faster answers. 

However, there are steps you can take to get your website to rank faster. 

More specifically, here are the factors the Google algorithm takes into account when ranking your content: 

1. Your website authority 

First, your website authority affects your rankings. 

The authority of your website basically means how authoritative you are in your industry. 

Because Google only wants to rank trustworthy sources that have a proven track record of generating valuable content.  

Why?

Well, search results from high-authority websites mean better quality information and a better search experience for the reader. And that’s what helps Google retain its users.  

For example, Forbes, Healthline, and the New York Times are all high-authority websites. 

But you don’t have to be a major publication or brand to rank – you just need to focus on the right things.

Factors that build your authority are: 

  • Domain age: An older domain tends to rank better because you have already built a bit of authority in your space. So newer domains may take longer to see SEO results. 
  • Backlinks: Google looks at your backlink profile to see which websites refer to you. If other authoritative and relevant websites link back to your pages, it shows your website offers reliable and helpful information.
  • Content: High-quality content on your website builds your authority. That means detailed, factual, and clear content (we’ll talk more about that in a later section).

Authority also changes depending on your industry. 

Take the medical industry. Medical websites have an even bigger focus on authority. After all, whenever you search for medical advice, you most probably want to find information from a doctor or researcher rather than someone who is reiterating information from other websites. 

In the same way, my readers can trust that my content is based on 10+ years of business experience. 

So, if you’re in a niche that requires more credibility, your content should be written by accredited experts (doctors, registered nutritionists, and so on) and have backlinks from reputable medical sources. 

Other similar industries (which Google calls “Your Money or Your Life”) are finance, health, and current events.

Another factor that affects your rankings? 

Competition. 

2. Your competition

Some industries are more competitive than others.

For example, business, health, and marketing are fairly competitive industries. In other words, you have a lot of high-authority websites ranking for keywords in these industries.

Whereas industries like interior design or photography are much less competitive.

And it’s far easier to rank in a less competitive industry because you don’t need as many links or as good content to rank. 

Let’s take a concrete example: 

I help people start online businesses that afford them more freedom and flexibility. The “easiest” businesses to start for beginners are businesses based on your skills, such as coaching or consulting businesses. 

So, I create content around starting coaching businesses. And that industry has relatively low competition. 

But my overall industry, online business, is highly competitive. So those articles are slightly harder to rank. 

That’s to say, how competitive your industry is affects how fast your website will rank. 

But your strategy matters, too. And that’s what we’ll talk about next.  

3. Your SEO strategy 

A good SEO strategy will help you rank much faster. 

A few things you need to take into consideration are: 

  • The types of keywords you target
  • Your backlink-building strategies
  • The number of blog posts you publish per month
  • How you optimize your posts
  • How you write and format your content

…And more. 

Ultimately, the strategy you use determines how fast you build authority. For example, if you only target high-competition keywords, your website won’t rank for months or years because you have to first create a highly competitive website. 

But if you target lower competition keywords, you’re much more likely to rank faster. 

4. Your resources 

The more resources you have, the faster you’ll get results. 

Imagine: If you can scale your website right from the start by posting a lot of content and building a lot of links, you’ll grow your organic traffic faster than businesses that don’t.

But here’s the thing. You don’t need to create a huge amount of content to see a good ROI. 

For example, I started by posting just 1 to 2 blog posts per month and made and made a return on my investment within six months. 

Within two years, SEO became a multi-six-figure marketing channel. 

So even if you can only invest a little in your SEO, you can see great results. And as you build out your SEO, you can reinvest your profits into faster growth. 

But what results are you measuring? Let’s talk about that next.

5. Your metrics

Answer this: What are your goals for SEO?

In theory, you can make improvements on a blog post and see results the next day. 

But what are YOU measuring?

If you just want organic traffic, you’ll probably start seeing some within at least 3 months as long as you’re consistently executing a solid strategy. However, if you want sales, it might take 3 months for a website that has some web presence, or around 6 or more months for a new website. 

Again, it all depends on your strategy and how well your website converts.

Your product has to sell, too – traffic isn’t enough. 

However, if you’re curious to learn more, take a look at this short video where I share the exact steps that go into a successful SEO strategy:

Now you know the factors that impact your SEO. What can you do about your growth? 

Read on. 

The 4-Step Automatic Attraction System

for attracting more clients daily... without paid ads, social media, or "hustle"!

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How do you get SEO results faster?

The Google algorithm can feel random, but it’s not. 

These four actionable tips will help you grow your blog faster. 

They are the same strategies we use at my growth agency Zalstrom – where we help our clients get faster results.  

Here’s what you need to know:

Target low-competition keywords 

Start by targeting low-competition keywords. 

These keywords are easier to rank for because bigger, more authoritative websites typically don’t try to rank for these keywords or don’t create content specifically for them.

Low-competition keywords are often niche keywords, like “running shoes for back pain” (versus “running shoes”).

So your content has a better chance of ranking because you create content that focuses on solving a specific problem. 

For example, I started by targeting keywords like “coaching business” and “marketing for coaches.” These are niche keywords that my audience searches for but that aren’t too competitive.

You can use a tool like Google Keyword Planner.

Google Keyword Planner was made for Google ads but it works for organic search too. 

Type in your keyword and see the average cost per click and the average monthly searches.

These two metrics will tell you how competitive the keyword is.

Or you can make this even simpler.

You can just google your keyword and look at what types of websites are ranking for that keyword. 

If big websites like the New York Times, Forbes, or Healthline are the only ones ranking for that keyword, it’ll be difficult to rank your content. 

Create high-quality content

High-quality content is incredibly important for SEO.

And “high-quality” doesn’t necessarily refer to blog posts with a lot of information. Instead, it’s about delivering as helpful content as possible. 

Basically, Google wants the reader to be satisfied they have the right answer from a reputable source when they read your content. 

But helpful content isn’t the only requirement for valuable content. Google also uses the EEAT framework to identify high-quality content.

EEAT stands for:

  • Experience: Do you have first-hand experience with the content you’re topic you’re writing about? Including personal stories, customer case studies, and first-hand accounts helps add credibility to your article.
  • Expertise: Do you have credentials or skills related to the topic? Show your expertise in your bio under your blog posts. You can also share your professional experiences to add your expert opinion.
  • Authority: Are you or your website a go-to source for the topic? Authority takes time to build but by creating more and more high-quality content in your niche, your website can slowly become a trusted source in the space.
  • Trust: Is your content trustworthy and factual? Use high-authority sources like scientific journals and studies to back up your claims in your articles. (Trust is the most important part.)

So, yoga content needs to be created by a yoga instructor or similar, while finance content needs to be created by someone with experience.  

Meaning that your content needs to fulfill both the helpful content system and EEAT to be seen as quality content.

Next, let’s talk about building backlinks to get SEO results faster. 

Build backlinks 

As we’ve talked about, backlinks are links from external websites to your web pages.

But backlinks are not as important as they once were.

As Gary Illyes, who works at Google, puts it: 

“I think they are important, but I think people overestimate the importance of links. I don’t agree it’s in the top three. It hasn’t been for some time.” That means any website has the potential to rank even without backlinks. 

And that’s a good thing. Building backlinks as a new website can take time.

BUT if you want faster and better results, it’s still worth getting high-quality links. 

Here are two great ways of building backlinks:

  • Connectively / Featured: These websites connect journalists with industry experts. Just sign up as an expert on your niche and answer the questions that reach your inbox. If your answer gets featured, you will get a backlink in the final article.
  • Podcast interviews: Reach out to podcasts within your niche and pitch yourself as an expert guest. When the podcast goes live, the host will link your website in the show notes.

These two strategies will get you started. 

Once you have more resources to invest in SEO, you can move on to more scalable strategies, like creating content that attracts links organically.

You can also pitch publications. For example, thanks to pitching, I guest wrote for Business Insider: 

Business-insider-article

Use SEO tools 

Do you need SEO tools to grow your SEO?

No, but they really help!

SEO tools like Ahrefs and Semrush help you identify things you can improve with your website. 

For example: 

  • Find low-competition keywords in your industry
  • See your backlinks and identify backlink opportunities
  • Get ideas for keywords from your competitors
  • See content gaps in your niche
  • Track your SEO progress in one place
  • Identify technical SEO issues and learn how to fix them

If you don’t have the resources for a pro SEO tool yet, don’t worry. 

You can also use free tools like GTmetrix, Google Search Console, Google Analytic, and Google Keyword Planner to get you started.

You can also get free content ideas from Answer The Public. This is a platform that shows the top searches within your niche.

Using these tools will make creating and measuring your SEO strategy so much easier.

How do you know if your SEO strategy is working?

The first sign that your SEO strategy is working is obvious: Traffic. 

You’ll start to see a trickle of traffic to your website within the first 1-2 months. Then, from months 3-4, things start to take off. Your traffic will grow and grow. 

By the time you get to month 6, you’ll see your analytics steadily increasing. 

That is, if you build SEO consistently and keep optimizing your content. 

That means figuring out the content that brings you the most traffic and improving your strategy as you go. 

Next steps

So how long does SEO take? The short answer is 4-12 months. 

The 4-Step Automatic Attraction System

for attracting more clients daily... without paid ads, social media, or "hustle"!

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But with the right strategy, you can see results within 3-6 months. 

Want to learn an effective SEO strategy that helps you scale your business? 

I used a 4-step method that made SEO a multi-six-figure traffic source in under two years. And that’s with just one profitable blog post per month.

Sign up for my free masterclass to learn how to do it too.

Read more:

Top Reasons Why You Should Invest in SEO

What is SEO Consulting?

How to Hire an SEO Expert

About Luisa Zhou

Luisa Zhou has helped thousands of students build and scale their own profitable online Freedom Business. Fun Fact: She used to work as an engineer for the Space Station and holds a B.S.E. from Princeton. Click here to learn more about Luisa.

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