In this week’s episode of Local Search Tuesdays, we’re going to answer one of the most common questions in SEO: “How long does SEO take?”

Last week we were in Orlando for our annual leadership retreat, and while we had an awesome time at our Disney team building day, we did spend a bit of time waiting in lines. We tried to ride as many rides as we could in one day, and that time sensitivity sparked the idea for this week’s video.

Everyone always wants to know how long it takes to get results from SEO.
It’s an easy answer. It depends.

There are a ton of variables involved, so there’s no way to provide a definitive answer.

It also depends on your definition of results – do you mean better visibility in search results? More traffic to your site? More leads? More sales?

Most seasoned SEO professionals will answer with a range, based on past experience or an average of their current clients, and typically that range is somewhere between 6 to 12 months.

We want to keep this short, so we’re going to skip the super detailed explanation and just give you a list of some of the variables that can affect the length of time you’ll have to wait to see results.

Google is always updating the algorithm – which means it takes time to figure out what’s changed and over time, as Google makes things more complex, it ends up taking longer to get results.

You also have to remember that you’re not doing SEO in a vacuum. Your competition is either actively doing SEO or simply doing things that naturally result in positive SEO signals.

If you’re new, and your competition has been around for a while, you’ve got to establish that you’re an authority on the topic, and that takes time.

It also depends which terms you’re targeting. If you’re wanting visibility on terms with lots of competition, it’s going to take much longer. If you’re trying to show up for “t-shirts”, it’s going to take quite a while. If you’re an underwater basket weaving studio, you could probably get results pretty much immediately.

Inbound links are a huge signal, so if you need more links to compete, that success timeline will be longer. We don’t know if you’ve ever done any link building, but we’ll fill you in on a secret: It sucks, it takes a lot of time, and pretty much everyone hates doing it.

At a basic level, if you want to show as a search result when someone types a particular search phrase into Google, you need a page of content on your site about that concept, and it needs to be the best answer to the question the searcher is asking.

Establishing authority on a topic or group of topics takes time as well.

You’ve also got technical SEO concerns to worry about. And user experience issues. And Conversion rate optimization. And a hundred other small things.

In a nutshell, the range of 6 to 12 months is really the best answer anyone can give. Typically, on average, for most clients, you should start to see traction at around 6 to 8 months. Not huge results, but you should start to see that upward trend you want to see. By 12-14 months, you should start to see the bigger results.

It’s also important to remember that SEO never stops – just because you start to see results doesn’t mean you can stop doing the work. If you want to continue to get results, you’ve got to continue to do SEO.