How Long Does SEO Take to Work?

As SEO specialists who have worked in the industry for many years, we’ve seen all sorts of different SEO tactics come and go. We’ve watched people use tactics to “game” search engines into ranking them—and as a result we’ve seen the search engines react with different qualifications, stricter algorithms and new ways to rank valid websites. If there’s one thing that has remained constant—when it comes to getting search rankings, it’s that there is no quick fix—good SEO takes time. If you think that you can set up a website, throw in a few keywords and you’ll be rolling in the dough in no time, I’ve got bad news for you—it doesn’t work that way. In fact, unless you have no competition for your products or services, without a well-researched marketing plan, it may never happen. Don’t despair, there are still ways to get great results from SEO, especially for smaller businesses, but SEO tactics require a lot of know-how and a little patience.

Why does it take so long?

Search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo want to make their users happy. They do this by giving them the most relevant results to whatever they’re searching for. If a search engine can’t get you what you’re looking for right away, you might switch to another.

In the case of new sites, it’s hard to gain rankings because you have to beat out the other established sites that are already on the first pages of results.  Ever wonder why when you search for things the same major sites usually show up on the first page? Some of these big brand results are due to advertising spending, but a lot of it comes from the fact that the larger retailers and better-known sites are often the most relevant and reliable results for people who are looking for a specific item. More people consistently click on these results and so they continue to rank.

Competing with the Big Guys

Does that mean that only Amazon and Overstock have exactly what people are searching for? Does it mean they have the best deals? No. It just means that according to how the search engine reads a website that these sites are trusted and have the closest results.  This is why optimization matters so much for smaller sites. You’re already having to battle for coveted first page spots against sites that have long reputations with both the search engines and online shoppers. These sites also happen to have lots of money to spend on teams of professionals building and optimizing their pages. If you just start a website without any thought as to how to make your pages easy for search engines to find and rank it’s like opening up a store without putting up a sign; no one’s going to go out of their way to find you past the first page, they’ll just walk past to the mall. When was the last time you clicked beyond the first or second page of search results to find something online?

SEO takes time. How much time? It really depends. In some instances we’ve gotten clients ranked in days, but in many cases it can take months and requires a unique, dynamic strategy. Search engines will improve a site’s ranking once they see that the site successfully returns results for things people are searching for. This doesn’t mean you can just do a lot of keyword research and buy a bunch of backlinks, though; they want quality results. Over time as more and more searches successfully point people to your site it will rise in the rankings, and eventually, with cutting edge SEO, land one of those coveted first page spots.

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