How long does it take for SEO to kick in?

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We often get asked ‘how long does it take for SEO to kick in?’ It’s impossible to give an exact timeline as it depends on many factors such as: the current state of your website, what keywords you’re targeting, how competitive your industry is, how much budget and resource you have, and much more. In this article we take a look at these various factors to help you understand how long it might take for your SEO to work.

What does SEO success look like?

Firstly though, it’s important to consider what SEO success looks like for your particular company. Examples might be:

  • Being on page one of Google
  • Hitting certain traffic levels
  • Generating a certain number of sales or leads each month
  • Ranking well on other sites like Bing and Yahoo

That’s just scratching the surface, but by measuring your progress against those indicators, you can begin to understand what will constitute an ideal result for your business.

Which factors influence how long it takes for SEO to work?

There are a few factors that influence how long it takes for your business to show up in search engines. Because results differ based on each individual search engine, you’ll have different timings from site to site. Also, some results are more difficult than others, and small businesses typically won’t rank as quickly as big brands. So what factors determine how quickly SEO will start to work for you?

1. How competitive your industry is

This can be a little tricky to determine on your own, but there are some general rules of thumb you can use. For example, if you’re in a really competitive industry like computers or television manufacturing, it’s going to take longer than if you’re in something less competitive like pet grooming. Keep in mind that even though bigger companies might seem like they have a broader reach and more money, that doesn’t always mean they will do better with search engine optimisation. It all depends on what keyword phrases people are searching for when they type something into Google.

The more competitive your industry is, the longer it will take for a new site to gain visibility. While there are exceptions, in general search engines find a new site faster when there are fewer sites competing with you. It’s more important than ever that you develop high-quality content on your website, making yourself an authority and becoming known as such. The higher quality your content is and more often you update your website, the faster search engines will find you. This includes improving your presence on social media platforms. And even if that doesn’t affect how quickly a search engine finds you, social media is still an important aspect of growing any business today.

2. The technical health of your website

Sometimes, your site’s code isn’t set up properly, making search engines have a hard time crawling and indexing your content. Google has a PageSpeed Insights tool, which checks how fast web pages load and how well they perform from a mobile-friendliness standpoint. After entering your URL, you’ll get a breakdown of what elements are slowing down your site performance (including recommendations on how to improve), a mobile analysis of your site design, and suggestions for improving speed. Making sure that Google sees what you want it to see is vital—and not just because slow-loading pages result in frustrated users and lower click-through rates. An optimised page leads to higher rankings since more people will find their way back after visiting once.

3. Your budget and resources

How much are you willing to invest into your SEO efforts? While it’s tempting to dip a toe in with a few pounds here and there, realistically, you’ll need at least £800 or more per month if you want your SEO strategy to bear fruit. Keep in mind that if you aren’t seeing progress within several months (say three or four), then you’re probably not doing something right or investing enough. Make sure your budget will cover at least six months of full-time work from an expert who knows how (and has experience) with setting up content-rich websites that are optimised for search engines.

4. How much content you produce

Successful SEO requires an ongoing commitment to creating quality content that answers specific questions your audience is searching for. If you’re going to maintain a healthy online presence, you ideally need two or three new articles per week. That’s five or ten pieces of content a month, 100+ posts annually and hundreds of thousands of words produced over time. There are no shortcuts! Writing about once a month probably isn’t enough – you need to keep writing new content over time in order for search engines and your target market audiences to find your site when they’re looking for more information about topics related to your business.

Related post: Understanding Google’s EAT content guidelines

5. Your backlink profile

As a general rule, you should try to get backlinks from around 100 different sites. Your link profile – which other sites are linking to your site – should be diverse in nature; that is, it should have links from small and large sites, new and old domains, niche-specific and general (broad) domains. It’s impossible to say exactly how many links you need but 100 is a good place to start. A link building tool like Open Site Explorer can give you some ideas about what types of pages are linking back to your site.


So, how long does it take for SEO to kick in? It’s hard to give a specific time given all the reasons above but as a general rule you should start to see some positive signals in three to four months. However, that’s not a whole lot of time when you consider how much more powerful search can be as an asset – especially in terms of branding and customer acquisition. If you want to gain maximum exposure from your brand in a short period of time, then don’t delay in moving forward with your company’s next strategic move.

Need help with your SEO?

Talk to our specialists today on 02392 830281 or submit your details below and we’ll be in touch. You can also discover all our SEO services here.

Gemma Scarth profile picture
Gemma Scarth

Gemma joined Vertical Leap in March 2020 as an SEO Specialist after having worked in marketing for 7 years for both in-house and agency side, where she was involved with everything from social media management, through to content development and email marketing campaigns. As a member of the ESEO team, Gemma helps to deliver strategic SEO campaigns across a range of brands on a local, national and international level. Gemma is well travelled after exploring the world for almost two years and living down under for 12 months. She’s passionate about snowboarding, fitness and supports her local football team, Southampton FC! When she’s not at work doing SEO, you can often find her on her paddle board floating somewhere on the River Hamble or indulging in a snack or two.

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