How Long Does SEO Take?

how long does SEO take
Ravi Davda Rockstar Marketing CEO

Written by Ravi

Oct 20, 2021

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Almost every business that we speak to, wants to know the answer to this question. How long does SEO take? What is the average time span within which my website will begin ranking on Google? How soon do I see traffic?

We know that you want a definitive response. How we wish that we could give you one. SEO has a long list of variables that can affect the outcome of the optimisation process. Thanks to Google, the list has constantly expanded. It continues to expand each time they announce a new feature or an algorithm update.

Here’s the takeaway. Nobody can accurately predict how long it will take to rank a website. If someone promises you Page 1 SEO rankings within a stipulated time frame, it’s a red flag. A skilled SEO professional can make an educated guess at best. But even that requires an in-depth audit of your business and your website.

In this blog post, we are going to run you through some of the important variables that will determine, how long does SEO take. Stay with us.

The Competition

Choose your competition.

Who are you competing against? Wait. Let us rephrase that. Who do you choose to compete against? Competition is probably the most important variable. Some industries are incredibly competitive both for SEO and PPC. A case in point is ‘websites for lawyers’. This is hands down, one of the most competitive industries out there. The average CPC for a keyword on Google ads is £34.72. That’s the cost for a single click mind you.

Some other equally competitive industries are health and fitness, e-commerce, hospitality, casinos, insurance, loans, software & rehab. What do you do if your business is in one of these industries? Is it a lost cause? Not exactly. But you must choose your battles wisely. The point is, you can choose to go up against massive corporations with million-dollar SEO budgets.

Alternatively, your SEO team can work on the low hanging fruit. Pick keywords that the big guys wouldn’t go for. Compete against the neighbourhood business by targeting local SEO. If your SEO team plays it smart, you can start to rank even in competitive industries.

How long does SEO take – Depends on your budget

Your budget is one of the factors that will determine how long does SEO take

$389 billion! That’s the estimated spend for worldwide digital advertising in 2021. Despite the massive spending statistics, the average business still spends less than $500 a month on SEO. Sadly, that’s what they consider a reasonable sum to get their business in front of millions of eyeballs.

How much are you allocating to your SEO efforts? Goes without saying that $500 is not even close to what you should be spending ideally. Regardless of whether you are a professional or a local business or a large company, your SEO budget should be realistic.

If you’re a ‘personal injury lawyer’, you are looking at an average cost of £14,500/month. That’s if you are vying for the top spot on Google. Smaller firms can start with up to £1500/month though. Speak to an SEO professional. They will conduct competitor analysis and keyword analysis. Then, they will give you an estimated quote customised for your business and industry.

Certain industries have established thresholds for budget. If your budget is lower than this, it may be pointless to even try and rank.

By the way, don’t get swayed by the £100/month SEO emails. Those will probably invite a penalty that you may find it tough to recover from.

Backlinks are one of the top 3 ranking factors. When it comes to SEO, it can make or break your efforts. There’s a conundrum that you must navigate through. Google wants you to naturally acquire backlinks. Buy every SEO marketer knows that’s close to impossible. Nobody gives you a quality link for free unless you are Neil Patel. So we build links as mere mortals do.

A few years ago, backlink building was relatively simple. Quantity was more important than quality. You could blast a few thousand links to a site and rank for moderately competitive keywords. But Google wizened up.

They introduced RankBrain, an AI algorithm that can track unnatural backlinks. Almost overnight, websites lost rankings. The mighty fell and how. A penalty hit anybody who was even remotely close to using black hat link building.

The question is, should you build backlinks if it is so risky? Absolutely. But there’s a method to the madness. Quality over quantity. Aim for a few high quality, authoritative links from relevant websites. Along with the link quality, link velocity is critical.

Brand new websites can only acquire so many links within a stipulated time frame. Google’s Machine Learning knows this. So it spots unnatural link building velocity. That’s why the Rockstar Marketing SEO team takes it slow. We build links at a pace that appears natural to Google. Also, we have a link building checklist. We run every backlink through that checklist.

How long does SEO take – It depends on your content marketing

Coming to the fourth cog in the wheel, content. Everyone who’s ever set up a website has heard the phrase that ‘content is king’. But what does this mean in 2021 and beyond? Does it mean that you hire an advertising copywriter? Do you flood your website with 10000-word articles? It means neither.

Content marketing in 2021 is closely connected to user experience. Let’s look at how Google search works. A user types a search query on Google. Google’s algorithms kick in and find the most relevant websites for that query. The user browses through the results and clicks on a site based on the ‘title & description’.

The user experience begins at this step. How many clicks does the website receive from search? What is the average time span that a user spends on a page? If they bounce back immediately, it indicates a poor user experience. If they stay on it for long, it’s an indicator of a positive user experience. This is just the basics. There are a lot more nuances to it.

What determines how long a user stays on a website? The UX, the navigation and of course, the content. If the content delivers what the title & description promise, chances are that the user experience is positive.

That’s why there’s no ideal word count anymore. Even if an article is 100 words and fulfils the search intent, it will rank. That does not mean that you churn out 100-word articles. Not at all. Google loves long-form content. Your content marketing team should create articles that touch on all aspects of a search query. Here’s a summary.

  1. Keep publishing, original and purposeful copy
  2. Aim for long form content. It attracts 77.2% more backlinks as compared to shorter copy.
  3. Repurpose your old content. Monitor the underperforming articles and see if you can phase them out.


Finally, we come to keywords. Keywords and content are interlinked. Also, your industry will determine the keyword competitiveness. That said, keyword research is the mainstay of any SEO campaign. We’ve seen countless SEO marketers flounder during keyword research. That’s why we always recommend working with a local SEO team with experience across industries such as our Birmingham SEO consultants.

Here’s how keyword research works in a nutshell. You plug in a keyword to your favourite keyword research tool. Then, you analyse the search volume. Your SEO team does a competition analysis. Then they come to the conclusion. Is that keyword worth pursuing?

Here’s the tricky bit. Keywords with sky-high search volumes are generally not worth chasing. These are irresistible from the ROI perspective. If you rank for them, you are going to attract droves of traffic. Your leads and conversions will skyrocket too. But, these are also the keywords that the million-dollar brands are probably chasing. We are talking about large corporations with massive teams working on SEO.

You are trying to rank fast, aren’t you? Why chase the elusive ranking that might never come? Instead, your SEO team should shift focus towards long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords have much lower search volumes. Sometimes as low as 500 a month. But they are generally low competition too. Google’s AI algorithms are question-centric. They scan for question-type queries. Also, voice search is on the rise. People prefer asking questions when they speak to voice assistants.

This means that your SEO team should focus on long tails and questions. Low competition = Faster ranking.

How long does SEO take – Final thoughts

SEO can take anywhere from 6-months to 3-years. That’s considering that all these variables fall into place synergistically. That’s why you need a reliable SEO team. Rockstar Marketing can be that team. Speak to us now to know how soon your website can rank on Google.


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