Alright. I came across a post from Ahrefs last week – a post about how long it takes for SEO to show results.
They polled people on LinkedIn and Twitter and it didn’t surprise me to see that the largest percentage of people (45.6%) said the typical 3-6 months rhetoric.
Folks, this is just a rhetoric.
Now, in certain circumstances, you can see fantastic results within 3-6 months but this isn’t the norm.
It’s only the norm as the time period given. But this isn’t realistic, and let me explain why.
Let’s say you’ve recently decided to invest in your SEO.
You’ve had your website live for a couple of years and are getting traffic from organic but you hadn’t actively worked on your SEO. You’re doing so for the first time.
By the time you analyse, strategise, get the business to buy into your strategy, a quarter will have gone by.
And this is just the theory and planning aspect of SEO. The implementation is another thing.
By the time you decide on your tactical approach and gather resource time to begin the implementation, another couple of weeks (easily) will have gone by.
But, let’s say you have all of this carried out within a quarter. This is super quick but let’s say this is all achieved within a quarter.
Implementing changes, depending on what they are, of course, takes the best part of a quarter.
This is from the day the implementation begins till the day the work is completed – it’ll be a good 3 months.
By the way, this is assuming there is only one department working on implementing your SEO strategy.
The reality is several departments will be required to implement the changes asked for by SEO.
I say this to say, the coordination of different departments to work on an SEO project, or projects, is required.
So, for example, if you have technical requirements that involves Devs and Website Editors/Managers, you’ll need to ensure both departments have the resources to work on the SEO requirements, and in a timely manner.
It takes more than SEOs to make SEO work.
Don’t underestimate how much influence it’ll take to have non-SEO departments working on SEO-related projects when they barely know, or quite frankly, care, about SEO.
But let’s assume there are no pushbacks from any of the departments needed to realise an improvement in your SEO, and that it takes only 3 months to have implementations completed.
You’re then looking at another couple of weeks (at least) before Google readjusts its rankings for the keywords you’re targeting, and stabilises you in the new, higher, positions.
Realistically, this stabilisation requires another quarter.
Notice, the timeframe I’m talking about is in quarters.
If you’re looking at your SEO performance in terms of months, your timeframe is too short.
It’s way too short. Here’s why…
3 months, in business, as you know, is super short. This is just one quarter. One.
This timeline isn’t far enough to have a vision, yet alone, to realise it.
SEO, is somewhat of a lagging channel.
If it take you a quarter to implement changes, you won’t see the rewards at the end of the implementation.
It’ll be many weeks after before you START to see the results, emphasis on the word ‘start’.
This would just be the marker of changes – the start point.
And this start point, is somewhat out of your control.
You can only do so much before it’s down to the algorithm to pick-up what you’ve done and to recalibrate and have you ranked higher in the SERPs – consistently.
How long does it take for SEO to show results? Realistically, you’ll be looking at 12+ months before your SEO efforts move the needle for your business.
Now, of course, there are exceptions, and the length of time really depends on several factors – the state of your SEO, the awareness of SEO across your business, your competitors, the industry you’re in, the current search landscape of your industry… many factors.
But on average, you wanna have 12+ months in mind – and let me emphasis the plus, here.
SEO is a journey. It’s never ending.
As I like to say, as long as you have a website, you need SEO.
The start point in your SEO journey is really just the point where you commit to taking charge of your SEO but there is no endpoint to this journey.
Considering SEO in a timeframe as short as 3-6 months does you a disservice, does your business a disservice.
Why? It leaves you with a mindset that has you believing the endpoint of SEO is shortly after this stated time period.
SEO doesn’t work like that. Thinking SEO is a channel you can switch off is like thinking you can turn your website off after it’s started to generate revenue.
Your website and SEO are so integrated that as long as your website is running, you need your SEO active to acquire traffic.
And mind you, SEO doesn’t just serve SEO. It serves all channels. This is just one of the many ways that SEO is the core of Digital Marketing. I can delve more into this on another episode.
My point is, the 3-6 months rhetoric, is not realistic.
Now, you may be wondering, if SEO takes longer than 6 months to show results, why do some SEOs still say it takes 3-6 months…?
Well, I would suggest to you that this rhetoric stems from the selling of SEO.
It stems from the need to get buy-in into the channel.
You see, the timeline of SEO can always be adjusted as required. The important thing is the channel is bought into, the important thing is to sign-off on a budget.
When it comes to results, there’ll always be a reason why KPIs, why targets, are not met.
There is always a delay in implementation, which is a trusted ‘get out of jail card’ as far as having a reason why results are not met is concerned.
If you’ve been promised the world (with SEO) in 6 months and have been met with excuses towards the end of this timeframe; you were never going to see results in this timeframe!
This 3-6 months rhetoric shouldn’t be one you follow – yet alone, depend on.
If you’re banking on this short timeframe, consider this…
If SEO is a journey of making improvements, is there an end point, is there REALLY an end point to this journey? Is there an end point to improvements?
No. Of course not. This is why SEO is forever – for as long as you have a website up and running. A website that you rely on to acquire traffic for revenue generation.
Just like you wouldn’t turn off your website, you shouldn’t look at SEO as a channel that reaches an end point and can be turned off.
SEO is THE one channel that mustn’t be turned off.
For as long as you have a website, for as long as you require traffic acquisition for your website, you need SEO. It’s the one channel that facilitates all channels to perform for your website.