While the question is justifiable, the answer is a bit complicated. If you think about it, SEO does have some immediate results, such as fresh content and a better organized website. If any of the following statements are true for your website, then you need a new one:
- You’re using a non-maintained, open source website engine, like WordPress, Joomla, etc.
- Your website doesn’t comply with Google’s website rules.
(Test it here: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/)
- Your website’s admin system doesn’t support adding at least 8-12 words to the pages’ source code.
So, if you find that any of these statements are true for your website, then you need search engine optimization not only because Google doesn’t like you, but also because your current site is so outdated it costs you a lot of customers (and money).
Of course, most companies pay a lot more if they require SEO, and the main objective is to achieve high ranking in SERPs (search engine result pages).
The consequences of SEO are hard to predict because there are several factors in play when it comes to the “speed” of the results. Such factors include the base traffic of the website, the age of the domain and so on.
But how much does it generally take for the results to become apparent?
The simple answer is: 4 to 6 months. SEO starts slowly and then gradually speeds up and about a year after the changes you will be able to see much more significant results than after the first 6 months (of course the results only keep on improving if the SEO was done correctly in the first place).
This timespan depends mostly on the objectives set by the company. Small, medium-sized and international organizations require different SEO strategies, and that means different result “speeds” in all cases.
How can we speed up this process?
One thing you have to understand is that SEO is not a one-time task. It requires much more than just a simple reconfiguration of a website. If you purchase a “SEOable” CMS (content management system) and configure it with the help of professional optimizers, then you are already on the right track, taking huge steps in the direction of success. Still, this is only the beginning of the journey.
Many SEOs offer search engine optimization of a piece by piece basis, but that only means a basic website configuration, and while these can give some good results for a few keywords, they are far from a complete SEO solution.
According to our tests, this basic level of SEO only grants 34% of what could be considered complete optimization. As you can see on the illustration above, there are many levels of SEO, which all have their unique set of tasks. Naturally, a complete optimization requires more work and money, but the process can be sped up if we increase the rate at which we work. Of course, there’s a limit to that as well, since Google has a ton of rules which can’t be broken. The search engine giant is constantly trying to filter out and prevent manipulative methods, which is why a stable, safe SEO service is not a one-time investment, but a monthly one.
Of you take another look at our illustration, you can see that 100% optimization is based on a strategy, is planned and requires constant activity. Thanks to this, one can achieve the highest ranking not only to 1 or 2 keywords, but also for many more phrases that potential customers may use while searching.
We can’t stress this enough: SEO is a long-term investment, and not a one-time solution. SEO efforts will bring better and better results over time.
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Admittedly, we haven’t talked much about the actual speed of SEO. But there’s a good reason for that – search engine optimization is a complex scientific field, and if you dig a little deeper, then it immediately becomes apparent why the results take so long to become noticeable.
Let’s take a more detailed look at SEO – this will help answer some questions and alleviate the confusion.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search engine optimization (or SEO) is basically a process which aims to attract free, organic traffic to a website. This organic traffic comes from the search result pages of search engines (Google, Bing, etc.) – these pages are abbreviated as SERPs (search engine result pages).
When doing SEO, we try to make changes to a website which help the site rank higher (get to the highest position) in SERPs. Which position a site gets ranked at depends on the actual search engine’s ranking algorithm, and is determined by several factors.
It’s important to note that a search engine’s result pages can contain both free and paid results, but search engine optimization is only for the free result types, and has nothing to do with the paid ones.
Main result types
Organic: Organic results are the basic results (links) which are shown to the users after they search for something.
Paid: Paid results are also called PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns. Essentially, companies pay for the search engines to show their links on a higher position than organic results.
Local: By creating a (free) Google My Business account for your business (shop, restaurant, office, etc.), you can place it on Google’s popular Maps service. By doing so, you allow your business to show up on the small map section of Google’s SERPs which appears when there are local results for a search. This map section shows both paid and organic results.
The most important SEO factors
As we’ve mentioned it before, search engines use different factors to determine the ranking (SERP position) of each individual website. While there are dozens of such factors in play, here are the most important ones (that have the strongest effect on your ranking):
Keywords and phrases
By correctly using the targeted keywords and phrases, you can attract relevant traffic to your website. Keywords on their own, however are not effective – you have use them as a part of great content, which holds valuable and/or interesting information for your website’s visitors, and, of course, for the search engines as well.
When it comes to search engine optimization, almost every single element of a website is important. One such element is the domain name – if your website’s domain name contains a relevant keyword, then it can help with your SEO. This is obviously only one factor, and doesn’t guarantee high ranking on its own.
SEO is partly based on trust. This means that to get a favorable ranking, the search engine first has to make sure that your website is trustworthy. For this it checks the site’s content and tries to find out how authentic is the information there. The algorithm also takes into consideration the domain’s age.
If you purchased your website from a former owner, but it received some sort of warning or penalty from a search engine (for using black hat SEO techniques, for example), then it’s going to be tough to earn back that engine’s trust. This is why it is important to check for these former penalties before buying a domain!
Local search and results
As mentioned before, it is advised to all companies to create a Google My Business account. Such an account enables your business to appear on the map section on Google’s SERPs (if your business is relevant to the current search).
It’s easier to rank high faster if the competition is low in your area – this is usually the case when you have a certain niche market to cater to. If, however, you are working in a more competitive scene, then be prepared to spend more if you’d like to keep your current position or to aim for a higher rank.
Again, this has been discussed above, but let’s take a closer look at your website’s content. First of all, using certain keywords will take you nowhere. This is the reason why most online marketers feel threatened by SEO – the bar is only getting higher and not everyone has the time or the resources to constantly produce content that is considered valuable by visitors and search engines alike.