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There is a lot of speculation out there as to how long SEO takes. Google says that it takes 4-12 months to start seeing results in SEO. Seeing as 92.26% of all global searches take place on Google, we’re going to take their word for it.

The modern world is fast-moving and so we are impatient. Hearing that it could take a minimum of 4 months to start seeing results from SEO might not always go down well. However, this is the nature of the beast and we promise you, if you want your website to be successful, it is worth having a little patience. If you want quick wins too, you should incorporate paid campaigns into your digital marketing strategy. But why does SEO take ‘so long’?

SEO Competition

Unfortunately, you’re not the only one trying to do SEO. Competition is one of the biggest factors to take into consideration when trying to achieve that top spot in SERPs.

Naturally, the more web pages you have to compete against, the longer it is going to take to beat them. Then, as you climb higher and higher in results, goals will take longer and longer to achieve. This is because of the volume of competitors, alongside the fact that the top dogs will have experienced SEO specialists working for them behind the scenes (plus big budgets). The competition will be fierce the closer to the top you get.

To beat the competition in SEO, you need to research and assess what your competitors are doing and then do it better.

Inbound Links

The number and quality of links you have affects the perceived quality and performance of your website. Establishing a strong backlink profile is something that takes time. Researching, targeting and acquiring worthwhile links can’t be done overnight and is something that needs to be done with care.

Google will be able to determine the authority of your website by looking at the number of links you have and furthermore the number of links over time. With this, it will look at various sources linking to your website and the individual quality of them. Establishing this profile for your website is something that needs to be grown over time to start seeing results.

Time is also important with your backlink profile because if search engines see a sudden spike in the number of inbound links you have, it could look unnatural and you may be penalised by Google. It’s worth putting the time and effort into this area because chances are, your competitors won’t.


As you might have guessed, quality SEO content also takes time to research, produce and publish. Despite the rumours, there is actually no set length that a piece of content needs to be, so long as it is informative and useful for the reader. Google has got pretty savvy in determining valid content, so don’t be fooled into thinking you can churn any old thing, stick a couple of keywords in and your website will rank number one.

Unlike links, producing content doesn’t necessarily have to be something that is done over a long period of time. Many people believe that publishing lots of new content at once could look unnatural (like links), but Google has in fact confirmed that this isn’t something websites would be penalised for.

If you have great content ready to go, get it out there. The sooner you get content on your website, the sooner it will have a positive impact on your keyword rankings. We encourage you to publish content on a regular, consistent basis rather than having random surges of uploads. Google likes to see that a website’s content is regularly updated with new and valuable information.

Equally, your website might need a bit of a spring clean sometimes, so sifting through old content that no longer has value can also help your rankings. Check that pages aren’t ranking for anything valuable before you delete them, though.

SEO Budget

The B word is not one that many website owners like to refer to. However, naturally, the bigger the budget you have for your website and SEO, the more you will be able to improve it and the more efficiently you will reach your goals. Having a more generous budget will allow more people to work on your campaign, do the industry research and produce the volume of content required for success.

It is worth noting though that having a smaller budget doesn’t mean you won’t achieve results, it will just take longer. No amount of money can get you to the number one position in Google overnight, it just means your tasks will be completed faster.

To confirm, having a big budget doesn’t mean speedy results in climbing the rankings, it means speedy results in completing a larger volume of SEO tasks. We recommend focusing on your goals in the form of increasing traffic and conversions, rather than having tunnel vision on ranking number one for a specific keyword.

Technology in SEO

As we know, technology is updating, changing and developing all the time. It is vital to keep an eye on changes being made such as Google updates because some updates made can change your SEO performance overnight. Preparation is key here.

Search engines take time to crawl and index website changes. Google usually attempts to index your website within 4 days to 4 weeks. But even some of the most successful SEO companies have found that it can take 3-6 months for updates to your website to take full effect. For example, say your website gains an influential inbound link, it could take 3 months or longer before the linked page actually moves up in SERPs.

There Is No ‘End’

Many people start an SEO campaign thinking that there is a starting and finishing point. There is a starting point, but there is no finishing point. SEO is not something that you can do once and reap results from forevermore. It has to be developed, nurtured and continued so long as your website is live.

Always think of the long term with SEO. It might take 3 or 4 months to start seeing results, but just imagine how many results you could get as you continue to grow and develop your SEO campaign. It might seem tough, but patience is your best friend in SEO when reaching for great results. And if things really are taking abnormally long, there might be something wrong with your website so keep an eye out.

Don’t be tempted to stop once you start seeing results. As soon as you stop, your competitors will run ahead of you in the race. As our friend Dory said, “just keep swimming”. How long does SEO take? It takes as long as you want to continue showcasing and improving your business through your website. As we mentioned earlier, if you want quicker results in search engines too, try a bit of PPC.