How Long Does SEO Take

I was going to write a blog post on this topic however, this article (Joshua Steimle from Forbes.com) came out and I honestly do not feel I could have said it better.

One of the highlights of the article does a great job of breaking down a basic timeline that I wholeheartedly agree with. Here is a snippet:

  • Month 1 – Research and discovery, website audit, keyword strategy, and planning. If research and discovery can be done quickly, then technical changes may start being made to the website within the first month. In other cases a thorough research and discovery phase can last more than one month.
  • Month 2 – Begin technical SEO work, that is, making modification to the website based on site audit results. In some cases the website needs to be overhauled, and this of itself can take months. Other SEO activities such as working on the link profile and building content can be done at the same time the overhaul is happening. If you find yourself in this overhaul situation, you’ll be doing “SEO” but you still won’t be seeing any results at all, since the changes being made will only start to have an impact once they’re finished.
  • Month 3 – Start focusing on content creation. Blogging, FAQs, whitepapers, articles, expanded product and company information, etc. Ideally you would have started on this right after the strategy and planning, but often budgets restrict what can be done at once, and so a technical overhaul needs to come first. This being the case, you might start seeing some improvements in rankings by the end of this month. If those rankings are translating into leads or sales then even better, but you wouldn’t necessarily expect them yet.
  • Month 4 – Continued content creation, technical optimization of the website, and development of a healthy link profile (which may include cleaning up low quality links). By this month you could expect to see a marked increase in rankings, traffic, and lead generation. It won’t be anywhere close to the improvements you should 12 months into your SEO efforts, but it should be significant enough that you know SEO is working.
  • Month 5 – By this month or perhaps earlier in the process you may have started incorporating social media management into your plan to amplify your content and increase direct traffic to your website. This can lead to a healthy, natural link profile, and of course generate leads in and of itself. You would continue with content creation and perhaps engage in some PR or media outreach. You should be seeing more and more traffic coming in from SEO at this point, and your leads should be growing as a result.
  • Month 6 – If your traffic has reached 5,000 visitors per month or more by this point, you could benefit from adding conversion rate optimization to your efforts to improve how the traffic you’re receiving converts into leads and/or sales. From this point on, your activities may be consistently focused on content creation and promoting that content, or you may be doing things that are more creative. The specific activities can vary greatly depending on what type of company you are and what kind of website you have.

So, do what I did, grab a cup of coffee or tea and please take some time to read this one.  It is a great primer on what to expect from an SEO campaign and how long it actually takes for the work to “mature”.

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